According to the newspaper El Espectador, the most important port city in the Colombian Pacific, Buenaventura, is bankrupt.
Receiving more than 35% of the country’s imports in 2022, in addition to being bankrupt, corruption scandals add to this unfortunate situation. Now, according to EE, the city has asked the Ministry of Finance to admit it into bankruptcy law.
According to EE, there is a “seizure cartel” in which judicial officials and the mayor’s office participated, as well as lawyers who have many lawsuits against the district. According to the Mayor’s Office, what it owes due to court rulings amounts to COP 92 billion. For its part, the administration indicates that it is not clear about the figure due to lack of identification of the demands and registration of all its debts.
However, the demands that the mayor’s office does not pay, become embargoes, which come from the same judicial office. Among these embargoes, the EE evidenced irregularities such as private conversations between Judge Victor Marín Hernandez and representatives of the plaintiffs. In these conversations, court decisions on the lawsuits were discussed. The judge accumulated demands that were later paid by seizing the mayor’s accounts for billions of pesos. This money was passed on to the officials who did not receive their salary because the mayor’s office used them to pay the embargoes.
Teachers, firefighters and specialists from the Municipal Hospital were also affected by not receiving their salaries due to the seizure of the mayor’s accounts. a vicious cycle of lawsuits to seizures to lawsuits.
Additional corruption scandals dot Victor Vidal, Mayor of the city of Buenaventura and former education secretary Hamington Valencia, captured for corruption with money that should be earmarked for educational issues.
Additionally, the debt of Buenaventura for the “Carrasquilla bonds” for a loan of COP 43 billion to build aqueduct works. The EE assures that the works were not done or are not currently useful, but if the loan continues to be paid, COP 22 billion remains, a factor that adds to the bankruptcy of the city. Now, the financial cost of the loan is the worst part of the matter, paying more than COP 73 billion. This debt compromises 80% of the resources that the nation sends to Buenaventura for water and basic sanitation.
The third reason for the bankruptcy, according to EE, is that INVIAS stopped paying the property tax since 2019 where the Sociedad Portuaria de Buenaventura SPB operates. A total of COP 300 billion. Unfortunately, this issue cannot be resolved because there is a legal dispute brought by the SPB to the courts to determine who should pay this tax.
Finally, it is unknown if the city would enter the bankruptcy law and unfortunately, without budget support, all the agreements made will be broken.
Source: El Espectator