Excerpts of Testimony of President Ernesto Samper’s Campaign Treasurer
Here are excerpts of testimony given July 28 by Santiago Medina, treasurer of President Ernesto Samper’s 1994 election campaign. The transcript was published Thursday in the Bogota newspaper El Tiempo. The prosecutor general’s office, which took the testimony, confirmed the published account was legitimate.
The testimony implicates Samper and Fernando Botero, the campaign director, in a plot in which they allegedly obtained money from Cali drug cartel leaders Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela, Jose Santacruz and Helmer Herrera to win the June 1994 elections. Botero resigned as defense minister Wednesday. Both Samper and Botero have denied knowing about any contributions from traffickers to the campaign.
Excerpts were translated by The Associated Press.
April 19, 1994: Alberto Giraldo (a cartel associate, now imprisoned) visited me on Tuesday, April 19, 1994, at 5 p.m., for the first time to offer me the economic assistance of Messrs. Rodriguez for the campaign. I told this to Mr. Botero, who explained that by no means could we receive such money.
April 29, 1994: .... Botero summoned me to his office at 3 p.m. There, he told me it was necessary to receive the support that the Cali cartel people were offering. ...
May 2, 1994: I had the chance to talk with Mr. Samper and told him that Mr. Botero had asked me to go with Alberto Giraldo to Cali to get these funds. He told me very nervously that he wanted to be out of the loop on this (el queria estar al margen de eso) and that I should coordinate it with Fernando Botero.
May 4, 1994: On arriving in (Cali), we were met at the airport by a man with a gray Nissan. He asked me to lie down in the rear seat so I would not know where we were going. We arrived at an apartment building of about 14 stories, in downtown Cali. We went by elevator to the penthouse, where we found Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela in the company of Mr. Helmer Herrera and Mr. Santacruz. They were very cordial and perhaps that made me more at ease so I could get to know these people.
Mr. Fernando Botero had given me precise instructions to solicit 2 billion pesos ($2.4 million) which were needed to finance the first round (of the elections, in May 1994). To obtain that goal, Mr. Botero asked me to go over five points that he had dictated to me. ...
One: That candidate Samper appreciates the backing they offer and values their help to gain the presidency.
Two: Ernesto Samper backs the surrender policy and the policy of negotiation to overcome drug trafficking and violence.
Three: He backs Prosecutor General Gustavo de Greiff on how he deals with drug trafficking. (De Greiff, now ambassador to Mexico, supported negotiating settlements with drug traffickers and advocated legalization of narcotics).
Four: He commits himself, as a top priority in the first semester of his government, to encourage the surrender of the Cali cartel.
Five: He will, strictly within the constitution and the law of the new government, do everything within his power to make sure that this reaches its best conclusion.
They gave me a document directed to Mr. Samper ... of two pages signed by Miguel and Gilberto in which they express their unconditional support due to their friendship of many years and in which they express their interest that he become president of the republic.
They asked me to arrange a meeting with Mr. Samper outside of Bogota. Mr. Samper rejected seeing them, explaining that sooner or later (the meeting) would be known and that it would not be convenient for him.
The money they gave for the first round (of elections, in May 1994) was, according to my knowledge, 1 billion pesos ($1.2 million).
For the second round (of elections, in June 1994), we were in total crisis. The campaign didn’t have a cent.
The pressure on them this time was stronger. They said they weren’t helping just Mr. Samper but were also helping to a lesser degree the candidate from the Conservative Party. Regardless, my commitment was to solicit 4 billion pesos ($4.9 million) and I obtained it. They would send the money to Mr. Botero when they received a receipt for it. This proof, which I say Miguel Rodriguez has, is a paper on which appears the distribution of 4 billion pesos ordered by Fernando Botero, on paper printed with his name and with his signature.
I want to mention as well, so the prosecutor knows, that the money Mr. Botero authorized me to receive was brought once by Alberto Giraldo and twice by Eduardo Mestre (an ex-senator now in jail) directly to my house in gift-wrapped cardboard boxes, each one containing more or less 500 million ($610,000). There were six boxes.