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Colombian president’s son arrested on money laundering charges


(ARCHIVES) Colombian presidential candidate for the Pacto Histórico coalition, Gustavo Petro, makes a heart shape, accompanied by his son Nicolás Petro, as he celebrates at party headquarters in Bogotá on May 29, 2022, the day of the elections. Colombian President Gustavo Petro said on July 29, 2023, that his son Nicolás de he had been arrested on charges of money laundering and illicit enrichment in a scandal related to Petro’s election campaign. (Photo by YURI CORTEZ / AFP)

Bogotá, Colombia — The son of Colombian President Gustavo Petro, Nicolás, was arrested Saturday on charges of money laundering and illicit enrichment in a scandal related to Petro’s election campaign, authorities said.

Colombia’s first leftist president wrote on Twitter, which is being renamed X, that police have arrested his son and the son’s ex-wife, Daysuris Vásquez.

Security agents arrested Nicolás Petro, 37, and Vásquez in the coastal city of Barranquilla and took them to the capital, Bogotá, where prosecutors said they were under heavy guard in a bunker pending a court hearing.

In an interview with Semana magazine in March, Vásquez alleged that Nicolás Petro received large amounts of money from drug traffickers and smugglers in 2022 for his father’s ultimately successful presidential campaign.

But instead, the young Petro used it to live luxuriously in Barranquilla, Vásquez alleged.

Petro wrote: “I wish my son luck and strength. May these events build his character and reflect on his mistakes.”

“As a person and a father, it pains me to see so much self-destruction,” he added, vowing to stay out of legal proceedings involving his son.

Prosecutors confirmed the arrest of Nicolás Petro for the crimes of money laundering and illicit enrichment. Vásquez was also charged with money laundering.

Since the scandal broke, President Petro has denied receiving money from the country’s powerful cocaine lords. He himself asked that his son be investigated.

Nicolás Petro was born in the 1980s while his father was in the Marxist M-19 urban guerrilla insurgency, one of several armed groups fighting the hold on power by traditional political parties.

The father recently said he was absent from his son’s life because of the civil war, unlike his five younger children raised after a peace deal was signed with the M-19 movement in 1990.

Nicolás Petro was a deputy for his father’s party in the North Atlantic department. The media published bank records showing he had far more assets than his congressional salary warranted.

In that department and in other places along Colombia’s Caribbean coast, the young Petro became a key player in his father’s push to become president.

Historically, people in the country’s Caribbean region have been wary of left-wing politicians, but in 2022 they supported Petro when the country elected him its first left-wing president after decades of rule by conservatives.

Vásquez said in the March interview with Semana that her ex-husband received the equivalent of $124,000 from a former drug trafficker named Samuel Santander Lopesierra.

She said President Petro was unaware of the money Nicolás Petro obtained from the convicted trafficker.

Santander Lopesierra served 18 years in prison in the United States for drug trafficking.

In another scandal, related to illegal wiretapping, former Colombian ambassador to Venezuela Armando Benedetti threatened to expose what he said were irregularities in Petro’s campaign in the Caribbean region.

In leaked conversations with the president’s former chief of staff, Benedetti hinted that Nicolás Petro was involved in these irregularities.


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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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