Rodolfo Hernández, former anti-corruption candidate for Colombia’s presidency, sentenced to 64 months for corruption

By June 18, 2024

Medellín, Colombia – Rodolfo Hernández, former presidential candidate and founder of the League of Anticorruption Governors party (Liga de Gobernantes Anticorrupción), was found guilty of corruption this past Thursday and sentenced to 64 months in-home detention. 

As determined by a judge in the north-eastern city of Bucaramanga, Hernández, who announced during the proceedings that he has terminal cancer, will be able to serve his five-year sentence through house arrest instead of in prison. He will also have to pay a fine of $85,800,000 pesos (USD $20,900) and is banned from any public office position for 88 months. 

The Colombian Prosecutor’s Office accused Hernández in 2018 of contract irregularities during his term as mayor of Bucaramanga, from 2016 to 2019.

Vitalogic trial 

Hernández was found guilty earlier this year of having granted preferential treatment to Vitalogic, a then-emerging technology company, in a contract worth 336 million pesos (USD $88,145). This contract was intended to go to a company which would have processed the litter in the El Carrasco landfill in Bucaramanga. 

According to the prosecutors, Vitalogic had bribed Hernandez’s son, Luis Carlos Hernández, with about USD $1.5 million, and employed him in order to be granted the contract. And while it was found that Hernández did intercede in his son’s favor, the contract was canceled because of the controversy. 

The former mayor of Bucaramanga met twice with the Vitalogic contractors; four and two months before he was sworn into office in 2016, respectively. The first meeting was scheduled by Luis Carlos Hernández, who asked that the contractors contact his father’s assistant directly for the second meeting. 

The prosecutors uncovered further proof in the hiring of Jorge Hernán Alarcón as an adviser to the Board of Directors organizing the financing of the project. It would be revealed by the investigation that Alarcón directly received 34% of the commission for the project. 

Upon being sentenced, Hernandez’s lawyer announced that he would appeal the sentence.

Presidential campaign 

Hernández was the runner-up to the 2022 Colombian presidential elections, garnering 47.31% of the popular vote. He became the primary political opponent to current-President Gustavo Petro after they came in first and second place in the first round of elections, in May 2022.

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Because neither candidate reached the 50% voting threshold necessary to avoid a second round, Colombia voted again in June. 

Hernández’s campaign was “unusual and controversial,” as reported by journalist Gladys Serrano for El País América

The former mayor managed his presidential campaign through social media, quickly becoming known as “the old man of TikTok.” He also did not participate in traditional presidential debates. However, this was enough to win over a third of the Colombian territory.