The contracts for $27,000 million that have the former mayor of Barrancas and a senior official of the Ministry of Sports in trouble

The signing of two million-dollar contracts in the Barrancas Mayor’s Officein La Guajira, in the year 2022, are apparently the tip of the iceberg of another corruption scandal of immense magnitude again in this region where poverty and lack of water abound.

Despite the multiple announcements of the current Government to stop corruption and help La Guajirathe truth is that the embezzlements continue and the protagonists receive contracts and high positions in State entities.

WEEK knew exclusively the car through which the Attorney General’s Office opened a disciplinary investigation against nine former officials of the Mayor’s Office of Barrancas for the irregular execution of two contracts that are close to 27 billion pesos.

SEMANA reveals the disciplinary investigation against the former mayor of Barrancas in La Guajira. | Photo: Courtesy

Among the names, Iván Mauricio de Jesús Soto, former mayor of Barrancas in the period 2020-2023, and Carlos Aníbal Peralta Carrillo, Secretary of Government of said Mayor’s Office, stand out. Both are part of strong and traditional political clans of La Guajira.

The investigation is based on the complaint presented due to the constant irregularities that were allegedly presented, first of all, in the declaration of “strategic importance” for Barrancas, after the holding of a Government Council in order to address the main problems of the municipality. which does not exceed 40 thousand inhabitants.

Tank trucks from La Guajira remain parked in the midst of a severe drought in the region. | Photo: Carlos Carrillo / Social Networks

From the mayor’s office, the signing of two contracts was ordered that caused indebtedness and, therefore, a possible detriment to the assets of the Town hall without any justification, since the municipality had “80 billion pesos in liquidity,” said one of the complainants who, for security reasons, asked not to publish his name.

For this, two loan contracts were signed: one for 19.2 billion pesos and another for 8.9 billion. According to the disciplinary complaint, at that time the municipality had sufficient cash flow and there was no need to generate debt.

La Guajira, Water
La Guajira, water. | Photo: Francisco Arguello

The first agreement was intended to demolition and adaptation of the main square, while the second for curb works on the roads. “Nothing that can be classified as a priority,” said the plaintiff.

At the opening of the investigation, indicates the need to establish the justification of these contracts when “apparently, the municipality had sufficient and available approval of the general royalty system to finance said projects,” through the Bank of National Investment Programs and Projects (BPIN) promoted by the National Planning Department (DNP).

The tank cars are parked in La Guajira.
The tank cars are parked in La Guajira. | Photo: Supplied

The Soto Clan

Soto Balan and his family have been mentioned in the scandal over the purchase of the 40 tank trucks that the company bought in October 2023. National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD) to bring drinking water to several municipalities of La Guajira, among them, Barrancas.

Several sources who requested anonymity warned that the Soto Clan, of which the former mayor of Barrancas is a part, was one of the beneficiaries of the conclusion of the controversial contract for 67 billion pesos.

The Attorney General's Office opened a contract investigation for the construction of social housing in Barrancas, La Guajira.
The Attorney General’s Office opened a contract investigation for the construction of social housing in Barrancas, La Guajira. | Photo: Courtesy

In February of this year, the then director of the UNGRD, Olmedo López and the former deputy director of the entity, Sneyder Pinilla, were photographed along with former mayor Iván Mauricio Soto, delivering one of the controversial tank trucks that never served. Like a postcard, thirteen indigenous children appeared smiling next to the vehicle that was never able to provide a service.

This clan would be made up of the current representative to the Chamber Juan Loreto Gómez Soto, the former mayor of Barrancas, Iván Mauricio Soto, and the current municipal president, Vicente Beraldinelli. Also the former conservative congresswoman María Cristina Soto de Gómez, whose call to trial was recently ratified by the Supreme Court for the crimes of corruption of the voter, falsification of a private document and procedural fraud for the acts of electoral corruption that would have been presented for the elections of the 2018.

While Peralta Carrillo is currently the director of Promotion and Development of the Ministry of Sports. A source assured WEEK which is a “quota” of the Soto Clan and the Conservative Party that “manage at will” the Ministry of Sports and other entities in La Guajira.

Despite complaints of administrative mismanagement during his administration, Peralta went from the highly questioned Mayor’s Office to the Government that promised to fight against all forms of corruption and to close ranks with all those questioned officials.

The house in the air

This is not the only problem facing the administration past the municipality of Barrancas. The Attorney General’s Office is also targeting irregularities in the execution of the contract for 20 billion pesos for the construction of social housing. Therefore, on June 9, a preliminary investigation was opened.

Although the contract was signed in 2023, and recently received an addition, signed on last December 28, of 10 billion pesos, so far only one house has been built that did not have the technical conditions for its use and that only served for a postcard “for the elections” in October.

The land for construction It was a donation about which there are more doubts than certainties. The investigation links officials and former officials of the Mayor’s Office who would have used this construction to obtain votes for the 2023 elections.

The disciplinary control body wants to establish whether Work Contract 182 of 2023 was handed over “by hand” to the Nuevas Casas 2023 Consortium, as well as the suitability and experience of this company in construction issues.

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