Buying political support is legal: Colombia’s Inspector General

Posted on Apr 8 2014 - 7:58pm by Rico
Colombia congress

Colombia’s Inspector General’s Office said Tuesday that the buying of political support through the distribution of government jobs and contracts, which was reportedly rife during March’s congressional elections. 

The process of “mermelada” describes corrupt processes, such as politicians receiving large amounts of funding from central government under the guise of legitimate projects, which can then be used for vote buying. Mermelada also refers to immaterial capital such as a promotion, a process defended on Tuesday by Colombia’s Inspector General’s office.

MORE: ‘Corrupt Colombian congressmen received $1.5B in tax money for elections’

Maria Eugenia Carreño, Prosecutor General delegate for electoral matters,  said that the so-called “jam” policies are not illegal nor unusual.

“It’s not abnormal, this practice, I wish all participants could help their regions to benefit, it is not illegal,” said Carreño, adding that irregular distribution is the crime.

The congressional elections held on March 9, have been met with controversy amid claims of vote buying and payments for political support.

However the Prosecutor General’s Office is not the only political force which has stood behind the practice. President Juan Manuel Santos described mermalada as being “performed all over the world” and “no different than government investing in its country’s regions.”

MORE: Colombia President says alleged political support payments are common regional investments

Carreño stated that “we are rigorously investigating these enquiries,” responding questions about how the “social investments” were used, for example whether funding is used for activities that benefit the community.

The Prosecutor General’s Office is also looking to penalize politicians whose use of funding is deemed as “excessive, unnecessary” and subject to “improper procurement.”

Sources

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