The first consequences of the statements of Aída Merlano

The Commission of Accusations of the House of Representatives will open an investigation into President Iván Duque following the statements of the former congresswoman.

Aída Merlano rendering a statement at the Palace of Justice in Caracas.

Aída Merlano rendering a statement at the Palace of Justice in Caracas. / Photo: Bracci Roa

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: Las primeras consecuencias de las declaraciones de Aída Merlano

The opposition representative David Racero filed a complaint with the Chamber, which was formally received by the Commission of Accusations and will begin to be investigated. For this, the representatives Edward Rodríguez (Centro Democrático), Andrés Calle (Partido Liberal) and Wilmer Leal (Alianza Verde) will be the ones who will carry out the investigation.

Aida Merlano's statements included an alleged purchase of votes to favor Iván Duque in the second presidential round of the 2018 elections, which he won. Therefore, Racero wrote in the complaint filed that he requested the investigation for “INDIGNITY and MISCONDUCT as a result of the alleged participation and knowledge of the commission in the aforementioned crimes.

The complaint cites an interview of Semana Magazine with Vicky Dávila, where Merlano says that Julio Gerlein and the Char family bought votes to choose him. When the journalist asked if President Duque knew what these two families were doing, the former congresswoman said yes, and that he had met Julio Gerlein himself.

The crimes listed by the opposition representative in the complaint are: constriction to the voter, corruption to the voter, traffic of votes and attempted murder.

The last one, related to homicide, included him as the former congresswoman said that after she escaped from prison, with the help of the two families she constantly quotes, there was an attempt by them to kill her. This was added to the fact that the Duque government drastically and quickly changed the reward for information about her. Given the latter, the crimes for which an investigation is requested are for actions during the campaign, but also during the presidency.

Faced with this, Merlano said in that interview that: “I know that once Mr. Duque knew on October 15 (15 days after he escaped from the authorities), that I escaped from the place where they thought to kill me and bury me in a mass grave, the next day in the morning, came the announcement of the increase of my reward to 200 million pesos."

Finally, Racero said that “All the above crimes prevent the right to political participation, guaranteed by article 40 of the Political Constitution, in accordance with it, citizens have the right to choose freely” and requested documentary evidence and testimonial proof of Aída Merlano. Following the submission of the complaint, the president of the Investigation and Accusations Commission stated that during the process, the president could be called to testify.

For his part, the representative Edward Rodríguez, who will be in the investigation and is from the president's party, said that a formal investigation has not yet begun but that a team that includes opposition, independent and party members has been appointed to investigate Racero's complaint. Now, this designated committee must meet to determine whether the formal investigation will be initiated or the petition will be rejected.

Merlano's political storm

The politician Aída Merlano created a storm when she first declared the reasons for her illegal entry into the country in the face of Venezuelan justice. In her statement, Merlano said that those who had helped her escape from prison had tried to kidnap her and kill her. This, in order to silence many truths that she allegedly knows about the purchase of votes for the concession of projects during several presidential periods.

The Char and Gerlein family, two political families of great power on the Atlantic coast of Colombia, would be the main defendants of the former congresswoman, who served for years as a fundamental piece in the purchase of votes for these families.

Read also Maduro vs. Duque: new tensions between Venezuela and Colombia

Once again Merlano returned to the headlines when she granted an interview with Vicky Dávila, which is cited in the complaint filed by Racero. And in them she has talked about the implications that the political machinery has had in the presidential campaigns of the last presidents of Colombia (Álvaro Uribe, Juan Manuel Santos and Iván Duque), as well as other candidates for the presidency (Germán Vargas Lleras).

The former congresswoman said on those occasions that she has the evidence to blame the two families and the politicians who have benefited from the purchase of votes, but she alleges that she needs security because she says that these families want to kill her. She said in the interview that she also has proof of this and that all the knowledge about the actions of the Char and the Gerlein are thanks to Julio (Gerlein), who was her lover, telling her what was going to happen before it happened.

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