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Fernando Botero Zea

Fernando Botero Zea, Colombian politician born in Mexico, son of famous painter Fernando Botero and who has served in several public positions in Colombia.

Botero was the campaign manager for presidential candidate Ernesto Samper in 1994 who later on would win the presidency and would appoint Botero as Minister of Defense.

Background and Training

Botero graduated from the Universidad de Los Andes with a degree in Political Science and later attended Harvard University, where he obtained degrees in Business and Public Administration. He was a member of Bogota's City Council and later a member fo the Colombian Congress. During the Samper administration, Botero held the post of Minister of Defense, during which he ran into trouble thanks to his poor handling of a contract to import a large shipment of Galil assault rifles from Israel.

Campaign Scandal

Shortly after Sampers presidential victory, Andres Pastrana, his opponent and future successor accused him of having received campaign donations from the Cali cartel in the amount of $6 million US dollars.

The Prosecutor General of the time, Mr. Alfonso Valdivieso personally led the investigation. Valdivieso was cousin of the late Luis Carlos Galan, a charismatic presidential candidate assassinated by the Medellin Cartel in 1989 for his political views, particularly for favouring the extradition of drug dealers to the United States. Soon, the investigations led by Valdivieso unveiled a more than evident connection between the Cali drug cartel and top figures of Colombia's society including politicians, journalists, athletes, army and police officers, and artists, among others.

After few months, the investigations resulted in the indictment of a great number of politicians and top members of the government. Botero was arrested in connection to the investigation and charges were brought up against him for conspiracy to illicitly gain wealth.

On October 3, 1996 Botero was condemned to 5 years and 3 months of jail for illicit wealth gain in favour of third parties. He stayed in jail for 30 months and was released on February 12, 1998.

In 2002, additional charges were brought up against him for theft of more than $800 million pesos from the campaign. The monies were invested in a farm property in Tabio, a town 20 km north of Bogota. The national prosecutor condemned to 36 months in jail. He won an appeal made before a Bogotas judge.

In 2003 the High Tribunal of Bogota confirmed the charges and Botero challenged the decision again. But in January 2007 the Supreme Court of Justice confirmed the Tribunal verdict.

Botero is currently living in Mexico taking advantage of his Mexican citizenship as this country does not extradite its nationals.

Further reading

Fernando Botero's 2007 Spanish language tv and radio interview

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Fernando Botero Zea

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