Today’s top news in Latin America:
J.J. Rendón, who has managed some of the most successful political campaigns in Latin America (and the failed campaign for Henrique Capriles in Venezuela, which he did pro-bono), has resigned as campaign manager for Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos on allegations that Rendón had negotiated with drug traffickers an offer to surrender in 2011 and shut down their operations.
Who is J.J. Rendón?
Rendón is THE topmost campaign advisor in Latin America. He plays to win, and plays hardball. Here’s his talk on neo-totalitarianism:
Who is the accuser?
The man making the accusations, Javier Antonio Calle, was one of Colombia’s most hunted drug traffickers. He turned himself in to the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2012 and is now in jail in the U.S.
Since Colombia is holding a presidential election on May 25, this has generated a political firestorm.
Adding to the fire, there’s also the 18-month old FARC negotiations in Havana, Rendón’s opposition to Chavismo (he’s Venezuelan), and speculation as to what role international players may have had in the release of this news. One may also have to consider Calle’s motivations, too.
The Espectador story:
Last Sunday El Espectador newspaper published an article claiming that Rendón was given $12 million for submitting a proposal to end 90% the country’s lucrative drug trade
According to El Espectador, the former drug lord, Javier Antonio Calle, alias “Comba,” has told prosecutors that several of the country’s drug traffickers made a deal in 2011 with Rendon in order to submit the proposal to the government.
The proposal outlined a route to shutting down 90% of Colombia’s drug trade, with the surrender of top capos and their henchmen. Among those who participated in the proposal were some of Colombia’s top drug lords, such as Luis Enrique Calle, alias “Comba,” alias “Cuchillo,” Diego Rastrojo, and Loco Barrera.
The 2011 document called ”Agenda for solving the problem of drug trafficking and the violence it generates,” allegedly shows that Rendon officiated as a general strategist for the proposal, which was facilitated by former ELN guerrillas Francisco Galan and Jorge Castañeda. Other sources consulted by El Espectador confirmed that Rendon was actively involved in creating the plan.
Rendon subsequently told El Espectador that there was no exchange of money, that he “acted as a simple messenger”. He insists that he only recently learned the details of the proposal, adding that he will take legal action in response to the allegations.
In the dossier held by El Espectador, Rendon is described as the “general strategist” charged with “damage control, crisis management and facilitator of the negotiations.”
When asked by the journalist Daniel Coronell of Semana Magazine if money had been involved, Rendon replied that, “if there was money involved it must have been in the hands of those who put him in touch with representatives of the narcos: the then senior presidential advisor for political affairs German Chica.”
Rendón has tweeted seven points in response, which I translate (Rendón’s tweets posted below the fold)
1. I received from F[rancisco] Galán a request to communicate to the Government the illegal groups’ proposal to submit to justice.
2. I communicated to Mr. President @JuanManSantos in the presence of prosecutor @Viviane_Morales and General Naranjo their intention.
3. Mr. President @JuanManSantos requested that I channel to the Prosecutor’s Office the documents of that intention to submit to justice.
4. So I did: transparently and officially. With the document # 2011-100-001832-3 dated 7/5/2011 at the General Prosecutor’s Office (Despacho de la Fiscal General).
5. The document was on the hands of the competent authority, for study and follow-up. That was the extent of my part in that matter.
6. I firmly insist that I have not received any money, stipend or benefit, and I dare anyone who says I have to prove it.
7. I am fully willing to collaborate with the competent authorities to clarify anything they may consider relevant, as always!
Former president Álvaro Uribe, who is staunchly opposed to negotiations with the narcoterrorists, in turn tweeted,
“Pres. Santos has been carrying a long dialogue with ELN in spite of that terrorist organization’s continuous crime, adding it to the FARC’s impunity.”
“Pres. Santos announces reform to Prosecutor’s [Office] on the day they ordered to investigate him.”
Never mind Santos; Who gains the most by taking down Rendón?