Son of Colombian President Gustavo Petro Arrested On Corruption Charges, Nexus With Narcotraffickers
Nicolás Petro Burgos, the son of Colombia’s President, Gustavo Petro, was arrested early this morning by Colombia’s National Police on criminal charges of illicit enrichment and money laundering from alleged illegal funds supplied by narcotics traffickers. His ex-wife, Daysuris Vásquez, was also captured.
President Petro wrote on his Twitter account: “I wish my son luck and strength. May these events build his character, and may he reflect on his mistakes…As a person and father, it hurts to see so much self-destruction.”
When the scandal was brought into the open last March, Petro distanced himself from his son, claiming not to have raised him and disavowed knowledge of his actions in a news interview. Daysuris Vásquez at the time accused Nicolás Petro of receiving narcotrafficking money during his father’s political campaign on Colombia’s Caribbean coast last year.
The arrest results from charges leveled by Nicolas Petro’s ex-wife, who accused him of taking narcotics money in the name of his father’s campaign, then keeping the cash for himself.
According to President Petro, he was an active insurgent, hiding and fighting in the ranks of the guerrilla group M-19 (an acronym for the 19th of April Movement), which kept him away from his son, as he explained in the interview to Cambio.
Along with Nicolás Petro’s detention, the Attorney General’s Office stated through a press release that Daysuris Vásquez was indicted for money laundering and personal data violations in actions that occurred since 2022.
The ex wife of Petro’s oldest son affirmed that he received the illicit campaign funds but did not hand it over to the campaign team, and instead he squandered it on luxury goods. In the most serious allegations against him, she assured that the resources were provided by the well-known drug lord, Samuel Santander Lopesierra, who goes by the nickname “Marlboro Man.”
Vásquez attested that the delinquent allegedly donated $124,000 USD to Petro’s campaign. Santander Lopesierra was incarcerated in a US jail for 18 years after being convicted of drug trafficking. Meanwhle, Gustavo Petro has repeatedly denied any kind of illegitimate connection.
Guido Hurtado, a researcher and political analyst in Cali, in the southwest of Colombia, a region that heavily favored Petro’s presidential election, sought to defend the Petro family, opining to Finance Colombia that “it is undoubtedly a political persecution but adjusted to the law. They disguised behind the law’s actuation that government pursuit. They do not apply the law this way to all the people.”
On the other hand, the same prosecutor’s office has active charges against Uribe protegé and former Vice President Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, and it was Nicolas Petro’s own ex-wife who first denounced him for the alleged corruption with which he is charged. Furthermore, President Petro himself demanded an investigation into any wrongdoing by his son. It was this very investigation that led to today’s charges.
Nicolás Petro and his resumé of controversies
The first wife of Gustavo Petro, Katia Burgos, is the mother of the president ‘s eldest son, Nicolás Petro Burgos. Nicolas studied law at the Pontificia Universidad Bolivariana and later obtained a master’s degree in climate change from an Ibero-American university, and a master’s degree in government and public management for Latin America at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain. He lived several years in Barranquilla (Atlántico Department’s capital), one of the bigger cities in the north of Colombia.
Likewise, he pursued the political career of his father and ran for the governorship of Atlántico in 2018, being defeated by Elsa Noguera, which led —thanks to the opposition statute— to his occupying a seat in the Department’s Assembly —in practice, a collegial body that functions as a regional congress.
The dauphin has been in the eye of the storm several times. On January 5, 2023, Musa Abraham Besaile Flórez, son of a former senator who is being prosecuted for parapolitics —politicians who had secret ties with illegal armed groups that operated as private armies and fought the guerrilla troops—published a photo on his social networks together with Petro Burgos. At the time, he was showered with criticism for his questionable alliances.
Nicolas Petro was also sanctioned in December 2022 by the National Electoral Council (CNE) after two years of investigation for possible irregularities in the campaign to reach the governorship of Atlántico. And a sentence was imposed on him that forced Petro Burgos to pay a fine of approximately $3,800 USD.
Above photo: (l-r) Nicolas Petro, Day Vasquez, Gustavo Petro (photo: Petro presidential campaign)