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Complaints of sexual harassment hit the heart of Colombian politics


Multiple complaints from anonymous women accuse Colombian politicians. President Gustavo Petro demands an investigation after the accusation revealed by El PAÍS against Mauricio Lizcano, Secretary of the Presidency

Mauricio Lizcano, Secretary of the Presidency and former senator, in an image published on his social networks in November 2022. Mauricio Lizcano (RR SS)

Harassment and sexual violence in Colombian politics have become a central issue of public debate.

Since the first week of January, congressmen, a potential ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, and even the secretary of the Colombian Presidency have been accused.

These are multiple complaints, although all anonymous for now, because the women who report fear reprisals from the most powerful men in the country.

A particular case of Me Too, without a face, that has worried the Colombian government.

"President Gustavo Petro has requested an internal investigation into the events that occurred in the Congress of the Republic, both in the current legislature and in previous ones," says a statement from Casa de Nariño on Wednesday night, hours after the EL PAÍS will publish the last of these complaints against Mauricio Lizcano, Secretary of the Presidency and former senator.

According to the anonymous account of one woman, when she was looking for a job at the capitol, Lizcano tried to forcefully kiss her during the job interview.

When she refused, he told her, "If she wants the job, this is the way."

Lizcano has responded that the information is false and invites this woman to make a formal complaint so that there is a pertinent investigation.

The new internal investigation announced by President Gustavo Petro will be led by Senator María José Pizarro, of the Historical Pact, before a "special accidental commission" that can investigate cases of sexual harassment and violence in Congress.

Senator María José Pizarro in the Colombian Congress, in August 2022.RR SS

"Of course, this does not happen because of a single complaint but because of several complaints through the media, and the fact that the president issued this statement today demonstrates his commitment to this issue," Pizarro told EL PAÍS.

"In the case of Mauricio Lizcano, he is no longer a congressman of the republic, but of course we are talking about events that would have occurred in Congress and that is why the investigation must begin there," he added when asked about the former senator.

Regarding whether he will continue in his position as Secretary of the Presidency, the senator clarified that “this is the power of the President of the Republic.

Based on the investigations, if the allegations are filed, he will have to act accordingly ”.

Before the complaint against Lizcano, as Senator Pizarro explains, accusations of sexual harassment and violence in the Congress of the Republic have multiplied in the media, with anonymous testimonies that still do not mention the names of the legislators.

It all began with an interview with former senator Gustavo Bolívar, a telenovela scriptwriter and politician close to President Petro.

He told



in early January that four women went to his office and told him how they were sexually exploited by various senators.

“In order to enslave them sexually, they made them contracts for two or three months,” Bolívar said.

The contract was only renewed if they agreed to the sexual acts.

Congress cannot carry out criminal trials, congressmen can only be tried by the Supreme Court of Justice.

But the new commission that Senator Pizarro will lead can investigate what has happened in the capitol and remit the complaints.

"What is required is a total articulation with justice," says the senator who a week ago presented a new protocol that will generate safe routes for women in Congress to report (anonymously, if they wish), and receive psychological and legal support immediate.

The new special commission, she assures her, will reinforce the path to implement that route.

In recent weeks it has become clear that there are many women in the legislature biting their tongues but fearing going to the authorities.

In Cambio


, columnist Ana Bejarano wrote that, when she worked in 2014 with the Ministry of Justice in Congress, a powerful parliamentarian who is "today a very high-ranking State official" asked a woman who worked for him for sexual favors. .

“Based on their intimacy and skill, victims were awarded with tickets to meetings or substantial commissions.

The better the orgasm, the greater access to legislative work,” she wrote Bejarano.



also found eight more testimonies from women, all anonymous, and one of these confirms that a congressman demanded that she have sex with him so that she could keep her temporary contract.

Another, an official with more than 20 years in Congress, summed up the situation this way: “In all that time I have seen how congressmen date young girls who work in Congress, harass them, use their influence to get what they want and how they offer jobs in exchange for sex.”

Mauricio Lizcano (right) upon taking office as Secretary of the Presidency of Gustavo Petro, on August 8, 2022.RR SS

Beyond Congress

Sexual harassment in the Colombian political power is under a new magnifying glass in the progressive government of Gustavo Petro, who promised to govern "for and with the women" of Colombia.

Other allegations against the man nominated as ambassador to the United Arab Emirates came to light last week: the academic Victor Currea-Lugo.

The professor was accused years ago of sexual harassment when he was a professor at the Javeriana University in Bogotá, from which he resigned after the accusations.

After he announced that he would be an ambassador, multiple anonymous complaints from women against him returned, some his former students, recounting how Currea-Lugo tried to pressure them into having sex.

Although the nominee denied incurring sexual harassment or violence, in the face of the controversy he declined the possibility of being an ambassador.

"I believe that in the Historical Pact there has been a lot of formality in the statements, to condemn sexual harassment, but I believe that this has not been translated into concrete actions," Angela María Robledo, a renowned feminist and activist in the Pact, told El PAÍS. Petrism until, in the last elections for the mayoralty of Bogotá, his party supported a candidate with accusations of domestic violence.

At that time, she withdrew from Colombia Humana, although she supported the presidential candidacy of Petro and Francia Márquez.

Robledo acknowledges that petrism has fulfilled important points on the feminist agenda, such as the search for gender parity in the State.

“I share 90% of the agenda of the Historical Pact”, she adds.

“But it seems to me that more sanctions, ethical or before the courts, are still needed on this issue, because in Colombia there is a war against women.

In the case of Currea-Lugo, I think it deserved an explanation from the Foreign Ministry;

and in this case against Lizcano, the word of Gustavo Petro was needed”.

After learning about the Presidency's statement, on Wednesday night, Robledo only added: “they should have suspended him while he is being investigated, because he has a lot of power.

As they say colloquially: when you don't want to face a problem, you create a committee”.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-01-27

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