Piedad Corboda, former Colombia Senator, the United States may try to extradite in relation to Alex Saab; Interview with her on Alex Saab

La exsenadora Piedad Córdoba podría ser pedida en extradición por Estados Unidos

The US government has had Piedad Cordoba in its sights for several years, even took away her visa to enter that country.

Senator Piedad Córdoba may be requested for extradition by the United States government in connection with the trials of Alex Saab, in prison in the United States for alleged money laundering. According to Darcy Quinn, from the Foreign Ministry, the US government has been targeting her for several years, and even took away her visa to enter this country. This is due to the investigation by the United States against the Venezuelan regime, as her name has begun to be mentioned as a close collaborator of Alex Saab.

According to the revelations of Andrés Vásquez, who led her communications team, Piedad Córdoba was the one who introduced Saab to Nicolás Maduro and helped him recover $30 million that the Venezuelan government was demanding. In addition, according to Vásquez, she is accused of creating a list of businessmen with whom she mediated so that the Venezuelan regime would pay Colombian businessmen who were against the Uribe government. At this time, her judicial situation is being evaluated by the Prosecutor’s Office, the Supreme Court of Justice in Colombia and by the Department of Justice of the United States.

Piedad Córdoba talks about Petro, the extradition of her brother, Álex Saab and the accusations against her

Piedad Córdoba se despacha: habla de Petro, de la extradición de su hermano, de Álex Saab y de las acusaciones en su contra

In an exclusive interview with SEMANA, she said that her brother was the victim of an entrapment in which, according to her, a woman was involved. Likewise, she attacked her former adviser Andrés Vásquez and asked the Historical Pact to be united around the president.

[the section about Alex Saab and her connections is separated from the rest of this long interview by a space and brackets.]

SEMANA: How do you evaluate the management of President Gustavo Petro?

PIEDAD CÓRDOBA: (PC): I feel very satisfied, happy. There were many years waiting for a moment like this, almost more than 30 years, I came to Congress with Gustavo in 1991.

I came from Antioquia and they had just signed the peace agreement with the M-19. One would expect things (in the Presidency) to happen very easily and it hasn’t been like that. It has not been easy. They are deep, structural changes, they have a lot to do with equality, fraternity, with something that has been central to him and many of us, which is life.

We have the interest of a different, different country and that is why I support him unrestrictedly. All of us who were elected in the Historic Pact must make a great call for unity, to surround the president, to help him succeed. We did not vote for a figure, we voted for a proposal. I said this at the meeting last Thursday in the Palace: citizen assemblies must be held, that is, that the primary constituent – the people – can participate, that Afro-descendants, indigenous people, women, youth, churches, who have impressive power in the country, can also participate, for example, in this discussion of health care reform.

SEMANA: What have you not liked about the Petro Government so far?

PC: there is a big flaw in the communication issue. Most people are often uninformed due to the lack of a communication strategy. It takes a much more powerful communication battle to get people to not only commit to change, but to fall in love with that change. Fall in love with what they said in the French Revolution: equality and fraternity. If people are informed, know where we are going, and know that these reforms are structural, they have the ability to push.

SEMANA: What did you say to President Petro?

PC: I told him “chain yourself”. He said to me: “What do you mean, chain myself?” Of course, chain yourself to the country, that one day of the week the whole world listens to the president. Let them know what the president is doing and what he is proposing for the country. Social networks play an interesting role, but they are not everything. Social networks, at a given moment, serve more to distort than to inform. There is a flaw there.

SEMANA: Now that you have met President Petro, did you have the opportunity to tell him about the situation of your brother Álvaro Córdoba, extradited to the United States for allegedly being involved in drug trafficking and arms trafficking?

PC: No, not at all. Absolutely. That is an issue that has to be resolved in the United States. I fully trust American justice. I would have liked very much for this discussion to take place in this country, because this is a sovereign country. It is necessary to have not only territorial but legal sovereignty. But no. In these matters I am very delicate and I cannot take advantage of a meeting to talk about it. The president can no longer do anything either.

SEMANA: Were you disappointed that Petro signed your brother’s extradition?

PC: It can’t be a decision that one likes. We, as a family, have never been involved in that type of business. I have been a very tough person against drug trafficking. I was threatened by Pablo Escobar, in Medellín, because I campaigned against him. In addition, drug trafficking has an offshoot that is paramilitarism. I held the first debate in Congress against paramilitarism, the Oficina de Envigado, and I was left alone. Everybody left. They are like the avatars of life. In addition, what happened to my brother was a trap, which is the systematic nature that the DEA has taken in the country. Do not forget the cases of Jesús Santrich, of the JEP magistrate, of the wife of Iván Cepeda, whom they tried to trap in the same way.

SEMANA: But, then, why did President Petro sign the extradition?

PC: There is a very delicate thing here and it has to be reviewed: there is a cooperation agreement. There is no one that has to do with extradition. They can capture you tomorrow, they set up a test on you, the United States asks for it and you leave. That was what the Government signed with the United States and that cannot continue like this. I believe that Petro obeyed that agreement.

SEMANA: Did you think that Petro, for whom you campaigned and has been a friend for years, was going to extradite your brother?

PC: I don’t know if out of delicacy, honesty, but I didn’t ask Petro or anyone else for clemency. It is an unfortunate process that as a family has affected us terribly. I am political. My life does not end with the extradition of my brother. I am absolutely certain that he will be able to prove his innocence there and that justice will work. How about throwing a tantrum? Since they extradited him, then I won’t help them again. No. I have a life project and it has always been to see a different country. I have a preliminary investigation for a criminal complaint filed against me by Roy Barreras for the fact, supposedly, of belonging to the FARC. The strangest thing is that the peace agreement was signed, everyone was calm and I was hit with the story of belonging to the FARC.

SEMANA: Have you been able to speak with your brother Álvaro?

PC: I haven’t been able to talk to him. My family has, yes. What his wife, who is also recuperating from cancer, tells me is that he is fine, he is optimistic, in good spirits. He is in a confinement site in upstate New York, in very good condition. If I told you what this has became. It is a terrifying thing. Everyone falls like a vulture. They told us: “I advised them”; “I represent you”; “you are worth so much.” An absurd, grotesque thing that one did not know what to do. Everyone has passed through here. Some, to ask for money; others, with very good will, to tell us: don’t start selling the house.

SEMANA: Do you have plans to go to the United States to visit your brother? Do you have a visa?

PC: I can’t go. I do not have a visa. When the attorney (Alejandro Ordóñez) disqualified me, in those days I had to renew the visa. Actually, I didn’t do the process. I’m going to try, obviously, not only to go see my brother but to see my grandchildren who live there.

SEMANA: You were always silent when the then candidate Petro removed you from the presidential campaign. Did that hurt?

PC: Yes. But I have to admit the pressure there was. I do not understand what was the prevention I faced. When I joined Gustavo, I summoned a lot of people. I was surprised. I hoped there would be 100 or 200 people, but 1,000 arrived. That kind of scared me because they thought I was going to take the Historical Pact. I am not in that mood, but they mounted a loud campaign against me of which I am fully aware. I know who they were and the desire and interest was to remove me. They invented things, that they had a lot of investigations here and in the United States and that could harm us. The most unpleasant thing is that they did not tell me, but I know that there were interests in removing me from the campaign.

SEMANA: There was talk of your interest in entrapping the campaign of the then candidate Petro and also affecting Roy Barreras and Armando Benedetti. It was real?

PC: I don’t know (laughs). Entrapment like what? With what elements, instruments, tools? I don’t know why they were so interested in removing me from the campaign. In the beginning, I didn’t understand. They told me: “Why don’t you stay to be a minister?” I answered them: “We haven’t even won and minister of what.” I would be minister of trifling matters, perhaps. I told them: I’m not going to give up. It was the first campaign I did that was cool, smooth, that is, savory, as Francia Márquez says.

SEMANA: But who had an interest in removing you from the campaign? Roy Barreras? Armando Benedetti?

PC: It’s not about mentioning names, but I think they were in charge of that, I don’t know why.

SEMANA: But you met with Benedetti in the campaign. What did he tell you?

PC: He approached me on one occasion and said: “Negra, you know that I love you very much, there are many things in which I have to acknowledge your support, but I have nothing to do with that.” That’s a piece of cake, as they say, I’ve already turned the page.

SEMANA: Roy Barreras assured that he had a humanitarian gesture with you when he went to a hospital in Medellín to inaugurate you as a congressperson.

P. C.: Yes, he was going to a meeting in Medellin and then to Cucuta. In the meantime, my daughter called him and told him that it was going to be very difficult for me to go to Bogota to be sworn in. Actually, I was in a very difficult condition to move around. I lost mobility from the waist down. He went to the hospital and took me in, which I have to acknowledge and thank him for.

SEMANA: Senator, many remember that, in an interview with SEMANA, you said at the time that Petro was a “bad person”. Do you still think the same today?

P. C.: No. I believe that one’s positions, especially when they have to do with reflections of principles, of ethics, are not static. At the time I said that, I don’t even remember, it was a hot flash of the moment, I don’t remember why.

I am going to tell you the following: it may seem very strange to you, but my attitude at this moment is to surround Gustavo, to surround him as much as possible. To the extent that each one of us goes out like a madman to shoot, this weakens, it cracks. I am the first one to step forward to say: we must surround him, support him, the situation is very difficult.

Many of us in the Pact, in an irresponsible way, go out to make statements when we have our own scenario, which is an internal discussion. For example, if the health reform were in Uribe’s government, do you think that any minister or any congressman would raise his voice to go against President Uribe? Nobody would do it and that is Gustavo’s magnanimity.

SEMANA: Is there a lack of maturity in the Historical Pact? You talked about “little girls” in that coalition.

P. C.: Yes, I think there is a lack of experience. They are new people. But finally those of us who have this long trajectory have the obligation to help to lead, to guide, to draw the line.

SEMANA: Regarding the health reform, do you like Minister Carolina Corcho?

P. C.: I love her.

SEMANA: Irene Velez?

P. C.: I know her very little. I think she is in a minefield. Being Minister of Mines in this country, where illegality has taken over mining, is not easy. There are so many interests. She was given a very difficult Ministry.

SEMANA: Where did your differences with Armando Benedetti come from?

P. C.: We had a disagreement when Alejandro Ordóñez disqualified me. We were in the middle of the session and he left and I was left hanging on the hook because I had made a commitment that I was not going to intervene, nobody defended me, nobody spoke for me. That was the disagreement I had with him.

SEMANA: How have you seen your management in Venezuela?

P. C.: I judge it by the results. I do not have much information because I have not been to Venezuela for a while. I see the meetings that Petro and Maduro have had, and I know that those meetings could not have happened without Benedetti’s participation.

SEMANA: Do you insist that Benedetti and Roy Barreras are “rats”, as you told SEMANA?

P. C.: Let’s leave it there. It was just a moment of blurting it out. Now it is not about that. It is about unity.

SEMANA: But you think very badly of them. That is the truth.

P. C.: I do not accept that a person who is in the Historical Pact, who was aware that we were going to present a series of reforms, who was elected with the flags of the Pact, now comes out to controvert perhaps the most felt reform of the country (referring to the health reform).

SEMANA: Do you think, then, that Roy Barreras is disloyal when he criticizes Minister Carolina Corcho?

P. C.: No. Let’s not put it in the term disloyal. What I am saying is: why do we have to go out to disqualify the minister and tell her that she is arrogant?

SEMANA: Senator, let’s talk about your visits to La Picota’s extraditables ward in the middle of the presidential campaign. What were the reasons?

P. C.: My brother was arrested in the middle of the presidential campaign. That was the objective, to affect the campaign, to affect me, to affect Gustavo. My brother was in the courtyard of the extraditables. I had nowhere else to go to visit him. I could only go twice. The last time there was so much noise that my brother told me not to go back. He told me: “You better not go back because it is affecting you a lot, it is affecting me too”. Also so as not to generate noise to the current president. My brother is a Petrista to the death. The last time I went to my brother’s place was on February 19 last year. Since then, I never saw him again.

SEMANA: But you did not only visit your brother. There is information that you also met with Venezuelan businessman Antonio Gómez López and Juan Carlos Cuesta Córdoba, alias Gordo Rufla, a drug trafficker of the Clan del Golfo. Was that so?

P. C.: The only person I met with was Cuesta Córdoba. Why? There was a person who was part of all that entrapment against my brother, a black woman from Chocó – I don’t even remember the name of that lady – who supposedly operated in Urabá with the Gulf Clan. She was also involved in the assassination of the president of Haiti, and she said so. So what did I do? I asked the lawyer who was with me to help me talk to him (alias Gordo Rufla) to ask him if he knew who she was, what she was doing, and that was it. That was it, he was neither rude nor polite. He was dry. He told me, “I don’t know anything, not even what her name is, if anything I’ll tell you.” And that was it. That was it. That was the whole meeting. Obviously, that entrapment happened. There was a person very close to us.

SEMANA: Who is that person?

P. C.: She is a woman of the Liberal Party, she was in politics with me for many years and with my brother. I sent her two children to study medicine in Cuba, on scholarship. She is the person who lends herself to contact my brother and even introduced herself to him at home. All that. But then…

SEMANA: Senator, just a moment, are you saying that a person from the Liberal Party, who did politics with you, is behind the entrapment of your brother?

P. C.: Yes. She was the one who took my brother to that other lady and to those Mexicans.

SEMANA: What is the name of the woman who, according to your version of the matter?

P. C.: No, I prefer not to say.

SEMANA: Is she a senator in office?

P. C.: No, not at all. She is a popular leader.

SEMANA: Is she still in the Liberal Party?

P. C.: I guess so. I don’t know because you know that I left the party.

SEMANA: Have you spoken to her?

P. C.: No. I don’t want to know anything about her again. I am not able to.

SEMANA: Can’t we know her name?

P. C.: No.

SEMANA: Where is she from, Medellin?

P. C.: She is from Chocó, but she has been living in Bello, Antioquia for many years.

SEMANA: What is the name of this person?

P. C.: No. That is very delicate. I am very sorry because it was a friendship, it was not just an electoral relationship. It was a friendship.

SEMANA: Is she free of any responsibility?

P. C.: Yes, so far.

SEMANA: Are you going to denounce her?

P. C.: I don’t know.

SEMANA: You don’t rule it out?

P. C.: I do not rule it out.

SEMANA: You said that your brother Álvaro is “Petrista to die for”. But surely he is disappointed. When he gets on the plane, before leaving for the United States, he launched strong accusations against Petro and the Historical Pact. He even said that the Pact had betrayed you. Is your brother one of the ‘petroentusados’?

P. C.: I don’t know if he is one of the ‘petroentusados’. You see, he is the brother I love the most. There were ten of us. That is where they invented all that awful thing that we had, it was a pyramid. There were five of us first. I was the only woman and my brother was the youngest of that first batch. Then came the other batch. Then we always did work together. He was the only one who helped me politically because my other brothers were not interested. Since I have done so badly, my brothers say: “We don’t want to know anything about that. We support you, we vote for you, whatever, but we don’t want to know anything about it.” They told my brother: “Stop fooling around after Piedad, that will not help you at all”.

SEMANA: But he is very upset about his extradition.

P. C.: Obviously he has every right to feel the way he feels. Overnight to get into a maelstrom like that. I can understand him more easily because of the commitments that the Colombian State may have with the United States, commitments with which I personally do not agree, but he can understand him much less precisely because of his own situation.

The only patrimony we have is the moral one. That is the only one. We are children of teachers and we have always been very proud to have a very dear and admired family back in Medellín, where we live. And to see that, overnight, one results in such a scandalous and horrifying thing. It is something that paralyzes everyone. Alvaro must be very hurt and very sorry because, I repeat, I think he never in his life thought he would be involved in such a thing.

SEMANA: Let’s talk about ‘total peace’ and Danilo Rueda. We are told that in a hearing at the Supreme Court of Justice with Federico Gutierrez, you expressed your differences with commissioner Danilo Rueda. Supposedly, you said that he was a “rogue” and that, apparently, he had stolen some papers from the FARC and disappeared them. Is that information true?

P. C.: No, not at all. That is not true.

SEMANA: What is your opinion of Danilo Rueda?

P. C.: I worked a lot with Danilo at the time of the liberations and before. The work had to do with the communities, especially in Chocó, communities very affected by the war and the conflict. Danilo is a person who has always been very dedicated to that, but would I say that he is a rogue? Never. Starting with the fact that you see him and he looks like a Tibetan monk. He is not a pompous guy or a guy with outlandish tastes.

SEMANA: Are you satisfied with Danilo Rueda’s work as peace commissioner?

P. C.: There is a lot of noise around him and a lot of interests, especially the figureheads of some people. This is a very complex job. For example, the ELN is the last guerrilla left in the continent. It is not a guerrilla group that just throws itself on the spot, as we popularly say, to sign an agreement. The ELN has its own timetable. It is very clear about what it wants and we are going to have to get used to the fact that it is not going to sign an express peace. They have something that the FARC did not have and that is that they already have a reference of what has been signed, what has failed and what has not worked.

In an opportunity I had to talk to them, and President Uribe even asked me to do so, they wrote down and complained a lot about what they considered should not be. They are taking care of that.

Danilo has experience, in the sense that he participated in the FARC peace agreement. He was there as a referent of Enrique Santiago, supporting with documents. He writes very well and knows a lot about the conflict because he has been in the regions. Now, on one side there is the ELN, and on the other side there is the Clan del Golfo, which is not really the Clan del Golfo, but the AUC. It is as simple as that. There can be no peace if there is such a virulent and violent sector, as all these expressions are in the country.

SEMANA: Do you put your hands in the fire for Danilo Rueda?

P. C.: Yes.

SEMANA: Completely? Do you believe in him?

P. C.: Yes, he is convinced of what he has to do. He also has to put up with a lot of interference. Here everybody wants to give his opinion. The Cacique Pipintá group sent me a letter to serve as mediator in the process. I received it, I answered it, and I start from the strong premise that I cannot do anything if the president does not authorize me to do so. If the president does not say: “Piedad, come, help us”, I cannot do anything. I could give my opinion, I could write to the president, as I have done, but not from there. Nor am I in an itinerant and desperate exercise to see where I can get myself. No.

SEMANA: In that meeting you had with Petro, didn’t you propose something to the President?

P. C.: No. Honestly, it did not even cross my mind.

SEMANA: Speaking of ‘total peace’, what do you think about the fact that there is a cartel of lawyers, as reported by SEMANA, willing to pay up to one million dollars to bring drug traffickers into the ‘total peace’?

P. C.: Disgusting, absolutely disgusting. The same thing happened with the FARC. What’s more, I once had to get a guy out of here (from his apartment). A man came who was the father of some boys from Medellín that I knew. They grew up in the same school with my children and he asked me for an appointment and I received him because I knew the children.

SEMANA: What did he propose?

P. C.: He told me that there was a man who had been a drug trafficker but that he was no longer a drug trafficker, but that in the last attempt he was caught. He told me: “It is to see if they put him on the FARC list”. I told him: “No, you respect me. Get out of here.” I pulled him out. I told him: “Go away, respect me, who are you confusing me with?” It’s the same thing that may be happening now. I have no idea about that because I am really very distant from that subject.

SEMANA: Do you think Petro is hurt by his brother Juan Fernando, who has been involved in the ‘total peace’ issue?

P. C.: Being the president’s brother must be very difficult. If you laugh, bad; if you don’t laugh, bad; if you sit, bad; if you stand, bad; if you move, bad.

Jesus Santrich returned to arms and was shot down.

SEMANA: Who killed Santrich?

P. C.: I know what has been in the media. I have no idea.

SEMANA: You said that he fell into an entrapment.

P. C.: The whole country knows about it.

SEMANA: But the United States already said that there was no entrapment.

P. C.: I know what has been in the media. What was woven to take him to a place where there were I don’t know how many kilos of cocaine that had even been paid for by the Attorney General’s Office. That is what I managed to know, but who killed him? These days it came out that he was killed by a military officer.

SEMANA: In political matters, who do you prefer: Juan Manuel Santos or Alvaro Uribe?

P. C.: Neither of them. Not Uribe, because I don’t think like him. It is not a personal dislike, but we have very different positions regarding the country, authority, life, the Government. I recognize him that he is a tough guy. If he is going to hit you, he hits you head on, as all of us paisas are.

SEMANA: And Santos?

P. C.: It would be very mean not to recognize the effort he made for peace. Remember that he lost the plebiscite and the same could happen to Gustavo, and I told Santos several times: you have to communicate, you have to communicate, you have to communicate. He never did it. Santos does not want me, but I cannot force him to do so. In a book he wrote that he did not want me to be in the peace agreement. Period. And that’s it.

SEMANA: The First Lady, Veronica Alcocer, is considered by many people as a sure presidential candidate in 2026 to replace Petro. Would you like that candidacy?

P. C.: She is a very cool woman, but I think it is very premature. She is not the traditional first lady, the one who is behind. No. She is next to him, going where he cannot go. She is where the president cannot be and she is also raising things. I see her that way. But that does not mean that she can have a presidential ambition.

SEMANA: Would you vote for her?

P. C.: We would have to wait and see how everything goes.

P. C.: I still don’t see anyone in the alternative movements.

SEMANA: On the left, you don’t see anyone?

P. C.: Well, clearly I don’t. Why? Our day to day work has to be to achieve reforms. If we do not achieve them, what successor or what succession are we talking about? As long as we carry out the reforms, we will sweep the October elections because people will really see us as an alternative.

SEMANA: Unlike what is happening on the left, you praise María Fernanda Cabal on the right.

P. C.: The fact that she is militating in another political force does not mean that she is a brute. We think differently. But I have seen her in Congress. She is an intelligent woman, in the same way that Paloma Valencia is. They are the most outstanding of the bench. Obviously they give us a bad name, they say horrible things to us, everything, but one also realizes that María Fernanda is an educated person, she is a person who reads, I do not know how she manages to combine with José Félix Lafaurie. I don’t understand how it is, but she is an intelligent woman. That’s what I think. She is an important card to take into account on the other side in the next elections. It is very feasible that she will be a presidential candidate.

SEMANA: Do you think María Fernanda Cabal can be president of Colombia?

P. C.: She will have to face our side.

SEMANA: And who is the candidate on your side?

P. C.: not yet.


[[SEMANA: Senator, let’s talk about your former advisor Andres Vazquez. He has given evidence against you, such as emails, and has said that money was recovered from Álex Saab’s business in Venezuela and that you collaborated and charged commissions for that management.

P. C.: I supported Andrés Vázquez and Ricardo Montenegro in the party. They were rejected for being homosexuals. I, who have been discriminated against because of my color and black background, hate discrimination.

I took them to work in the office. I appointed them at UTL [Unidades de Trabajo Legislativo] and they finished their degree working with me. They were like a couple of my children. I practically adopted them. I think that behind all that, and especially behind Andres, there are a lot of lies. He has not provided a single piece of evidence. If that were true, they would have opened an investigation on me by now. He has not provided anything. What was set up, and I don’t know by whom, was a campaign to discredit me, because they even said that I didn’t pay the service employees. My employee had been with me for 30 years. She died recently. She was like the mother of this house.

SEMANA: Did you have business with Alex Saab?

P. C.: I have never, never had a business with Alex Saab, why hasn’t anyone come out to say that I charged him commissions or that I received commissions? I never did anything like that.

In the work I did in Venezuela, with President Chávez and then with President Maduro, everything was limited to the issue of releases. I was the one who opened the door for the peace agreement. Here they had been talking for many years, talking nonsense and getting money and lamenting because there were kidnapped people, but nobody did anything. I was the one who really got those 42 people returned to freedom. So, that is where the peace agreement opens. I was dedicated to that, I have never wanted to be seen as a businesswoman. I don’t do business.

SEMANA: But Andrés Vásquez has talked about specific money transactions where Camilo, his son, would have been involved.

P. C.: Lies, lies. He had a kind of jealousy with Camilo because he arrives from Canada and I take him to accompany me. Andres did everything he could to make him ugly, if I can say so. Andrés is a mythomaniac. He has a very serious problem. He is denounced here and in the United States. He has to explain where his assets come from, it’s as simple as that. In the United States, I don’t have a single piece of paper, I don’t have anything. He has and he has to explain that. He made that whole movie to distract. If I had received money, as Madeleine Albright said, money leaves traces. I knew Alex Saab, I know him, but I have not had such a close relationship, of business and things.

SEMANA: We insist: did you have business with him?

P. C.: Never, never. The person who has been investigated the most in this country is me. Santos and Uribe had me investigated. The last investigation I got to know recently. An investigation that has 3,500 documents. They found absolutely nothing. But they did find many people of the right wing of this country related to Alex Saab, in business with him. I did not appear nor did my children. I am trying to reach an agreement with the person who did the investigation to allow me to disclose the names. It is not fair that I, who have nothing to do with it, who have never had any business at all, nor any contract, should be the one who distracts attention. Why don’t they take out all that list?

SEMANA: Tell us, then, who are the people from the right who allegedly did business with Alex Saab?

P. C.: I will give you the names in due time. They are Colombian politicians, businessmen of this country related to Alex Saab. They did business with him.

SEMANA: And today they are in Congress?

P. C.: No.

Senator Piedad Cordoba has denied all the accusations and assures that it is a judicial and political persecution.
Piedad Cordoba lost a battle in the Supreme Court and will continue to be investigated for FARC politics.

SEMANA: In governorships and mayorships?

P. C.: Leave it there. But I will let you know, I will let you know. If you want, I will give you the scoop.

SEMANA: Speaking of Andrés Vásquez, there are some emails from 2011, in which there is talk of a consignment for you. The money would have been deposited in the account of the company Maquila, Textiles and Apparel, owned by Alex Saab. Vásquez has said that this request was an order from you and it was money that was being charged to a Venezuelan businessman named Salomón. You would have been paid 150,000 dollars.

P. C.: That is absolutely false. If that were true, why doesn’t this Salomón come out and say that he gave it to me or consigned it to me? I have only one account all my life. I have never had accounts abroad because I have not agreed with that.

It is very easy to spread an infamy and it stays there because they do not go to the bottom, they do not find out where the account is. I heard of a man who told SEMANA that he had not given me any money because, as I was from the FARC, he did not want anything to do with me. What is this ridiculousness? I don’t know who this man is, I don’t know what he does and I don’t have the slightest idea. Maybe he gave the money to Andrés (Vásquez). Maybe he is the one who kept the money, why don’t you check his accounts, his assets?

SEMANA: In the file against Álex Saab in the United States there is a detailed list of 17 commercial flights, tickets in his name, in addition to his children Juan Luis and Natalia and that were purchased by a company associated to Saab, called Group Grand Limited, included in the Clinton List in 2019.

P. C.: I do not know, I do not know Álex’s companies. I never knew his office, I never went there. So much follow-up they do to one and the phone totally intercepted, and why don’t they take out my conversations with him?

SEMANA: But did you pay for the air tickets?

P. C.: We went on a trip to Cuba. That was public. The ambassador at that time, who is now deceased, a very good friend, asked a group of us to help businessmen to go to Havana because they were in the process of remodeling the city and wanted to see if they were willing to finance the remodeling. As I have done every time it has to do with Cuba, I talked to several businessmen, among them Álex Saab, he went with us. That is the flight I remember exactly. He was not interested, he went back, surely he was not interested in the business, we stayed, but that was all. The rest that traveled on behalf of him, or my children, no. Juan Luis, the eldest, must have seen Alex twice; Camilo, maybe the one who has seen him the most, has no relationship with him.

SEMANA: In conclusion, you did travel with Alex Saab to Cuba.

P. C.: Yes, of course.

SEMANA: And he paid for the tickets?

P. C.: He bought the tickets, yes. That was about 15 years ago.

SEMANA: There is talk of another entry to Ecuador with Alex Saab. It was denounced by an assemblyman of that country.

P. C.: This Fernando Villavicencio? He not only said that. He talked about my business there with Rafael Correa there. What business?

SEMANA: There is an audio published by SEMANA in which you say: “What we need is money, asshole”. You talk to a man named Manuel, who would be the spearhead of possible business of yours in Ecuador. You are referring to works in Manta.

P. C.: Manta? I do not know. I have nothing to do with that, nor business there with anyone. It is so easy to find out. I have not had anything with Alex there or anywhere else.

SEMANA: But you opened the doors for Alex Saab to enter Venezuela and meet Hugo Chavez?

P. C.: No, no sir, what a pity, that is not true. And if I had done it, I do not think it is a crime. I did not do it. When I met Alex, he was already in Venezuela. Why did I meet him? During Horacio Serpa’s presidential campaign we were invited to a lunch at the house of a doctor who was a close friend of Horacio. The whole family arrived there. It was not only Alex, I was a close friend of his father, I knew him, but not Alex. I knew him because all my life I have been part of the groups in defense of Palestine, I worked with him in that. I met him there, I never saw him again, I met him later in Venezuela. Alex, in order to enter Venezuela, did not need me for anything at all.

According to the evidence in the file that the Court is following Piedad Córdoba, the former Senator would have taken advantage of her closeness to Hugo Chávez’s regime to negotiate business deals in which she would be a commission agent.

SEMANA: You deny doing business with Alex Saab, having received money from him, you accept some trips, but there are emails shown by Andres Vasquez in which it is said that there were indeed some charges, some commissions, some loans from Alex Saab’s companies so that you could be paid some resources. How can you explain that?

P. C.: If that had been true, I should be condemned for being a brute. I do not believe that one is so stupid as to put in some e-mails: “I want to be paid these commissions”. Why doesn’t the account appear? Where is it? Where are the guys who supposedly gave me the money? I don’t like any of that. If that were the reason, I would have done the business, why do I have to use another vehicle to do a business?

SEMANA: But there are the emails of your advisor.

P. C.: He could have written them himself. I never saw them.

SEMANA: And the money?

P. C.: Well, he would have charged it to himself because I didn’t get a single peso. Not even one. From here I challenge anyone who has said or can say that he gave me money.

SEMANA: Senator, you were not aware of his e-mail?

P. C.: What I was talking about had more to do with the liberation of the hostages. I had two communications. With Raul Reyes, which was when we went to a meeting with him, and then I communicated with him twice because of something that happened very badly and it is not worth mentioning. Hugo Chavez made the decision that he would communicate directly with the FARC and not with me. So, I wrote an email to Reyes and he told me that his relationship was directly with President Chavez. I would dictate to Andres and he would write. That was all. There can be no more emails, because that was all I talked about.

SEMANA: When did you break with your advisors?

P. C.: I am the godmother of Andrés’ marriage to the boy from Caldas. I distanced myself when some emails appeared in which Andres told Ricardo that he was going to send him 10,000 dollars, but that I was not going to find out. I was so surprised… that hit me so hard. I never imagined that Andres and Ricardo were doing business and that they were sending money to each other. I got upset and I never spoke to them again, I distanced myself completely.

SEMANA: What have you heard from Andres again?

P. C.: What everybody knows. I know he is in the United States, in Miami. I have not contacted them at all, I have nothing to talk to them, let them talk to their lawyers. Andres does not give a single piece of evidence. Ricardo even less, because he was Andres’ boyfriend. When Andres becomes the other’s boyfriend, there is trouble between them. Here Andres would come to scream, they distanced themselves for a while, but they became friends again. For me it was very painful because I bet a lot on that pair of boys. Later, I realized that they were doing business over me, getting money, maybe they were asking for it in my name, I don’t know. The one who has to explain his things is him, not me.

SEMANA: Getting money, how so?

P. C.: I base myself on a document that appeared in El Tiempo, from where was Andrés going to send 10.000 dollars to Ricardo? From where?

SEMANA: You say that they could have asked for money in Venezuela using your name?

P. C.: Especially Andrés, because Ricardo was not in Venezuela.

SEMANA: Could Andrés have used his name to ask for money to businessmen in Venezuela?

P. C: Yes, he could have. I don’t know.

SEMANA: Why do you think so?

P. C: Well, because of that email that came out. I think Andrés is hiding things, he has to know where he got the money from, how he bought his goods in the United States. I have absolutely nothing there, I have never had, and I am not interested in it. He has to answer for his actions.

SEMANA: There is an audio obtained by the Prosecutor’s Office, in which you can hear your voice worried about your son, former senator Juan Luis Castro. You say that he was not getting enough money and that he needed to get into business?

P. C.: I don’t remember. If Juan had been interested in business he would have stayed as senator. Juan resigns from the Senate because he says: “I am not for this world, I am not good for this, apart from that, the persecution against you has already extended to all of us, it is hurting us terribly”. Besides, he tells me: “I was not here for money, because in the United States I earn much more than what I earn here”. He is a psychiatrist, a sort of bookworm, more dedicated to academia, he does not feel any remorse for having retired, nor for having left. He doesn’t want to hear about any of this again. If at all he will visit me, but he will never live in the country again.

SEMANA: Is it true that the relationship with your son Juan Luis is very tense?

P. C.: No. It hit me very hard when he resigned. I did not believe him. I said: it must be that he is angry for some reason, something. We have a very good relationship, all these days I have been bothering him, I tell him: “Send me some red tennis shoes, I want some red tennis shoes”. They have not arrived. I have a very good relationship with my children. It is excellent. When we went to live in exile, it was very hard, very difficult. There were times when they were upset. They would tell me: “It’s your fault we had to come here. One said: “I lost all my friends”; the other one: “I lost my girlfriend”. Juan makes a big deal out of everything I say, he wants to die every time I make a statement.

SEMANA: Listening to you, one would think that you consider Alex Saab an injustice. Was his extradition unjust? Is he innocent?

P. C.: The only thing I can tell you is that he had diplomatic functions with the Venezuelan government. I think it has a lot to do with the way he acted to help Venezuela with that blockade, with the food, but I really don’t know more about that.

SEMANA: But what they say is that he was part of a corrupt and criminal network to take advantage of the humanitarian situation in Venezuela and do business?

P. C.: I don’t believe that.

SEMANA: Do you believe that Alex Saab is innocent?

P. C.: I think he is innocent. From the little I have met him, he is a guy with very good manners, educated, he was trained in Germany. As if one sees a corrupt guy dedicated to stealing, then Nicolás (Maduro) would have to be very stupid, because the first one who has to realize it is him.

SEMANA: When was the last time you spoke with Alex Saab and what did you talk about?

P. C.: The last time was a long time ago. He had Abelardo de la Espriella as his lawyer, who wrote an article that outraged me, in which he said that Nicolás Maduro had to be killed. I took the article, went to Venezuela and looked for a person from the government to contact Alex. I met with him and I told him: “Alex, I wanted to talk to you because I think this article is ill-tempered. Apart from that, as he is Colombian, Nicolás (Maduro) may think that I suddenly have something to do with him and I have no relationship with De la Espriella and I am not interested. I would recommend you to change your lawyer”.

SEMANA: And what did Saab answer you?

P. C.: He told me: “He is my friend, he is my lawyer and that’s it”. Then I told him: “I am taking this article to Nicolás (Maduro) because I do not want to leave any shadow of doubt with this because a friend of mine cannot be a guy who says that Nicolás should be killed”. Nicolás, beyond being the president, is my friend. I established a very close friendship with him. That was the last time I spoke with Saab.

SEMANA: How close are you to Nicolás Maduro?

P. C.: Very much.

SEMANA: Are you still friends with him?

P. C.: Yes, and I love him.

SEMANA: How do you feel Maduro has been doing?

P. C.: very well.

SEMANA: Despite the serious humanitarian crisis that Venezuela is facing?

P. C.: You have not been there, do not talk about what you do not know. Go to Venezuela and you will find out. Nicolás has been able to support himself.

Within the investigation against Piedad Córdoba, there appear millionaire money transfers that would have been made to Nicolás Maduro through one of his most trusted men. It is William Amaro.]]


SEMANA: In your opinion, is there a democracy in Venezuela?

P. C.: Yes, there is a democracy. If there are elections, there is democracy.

SEMANA: But the elections have not been free. The denunciations are clear.

P. C.: They are free. Moreover, I invite you to talk to a person who has been a permanent advisor to President Nicolás Maduro on electoral matters: the current Colombian Minister of Transportation, Guillermo Reyes.

SEMANA: Has he been an advisor to Nicolás Maduro?

P. C.: Yes.

SEMANA: What has he advised him on?

P. C.: In all electoral matters. He has worked closely with him.

SEMANA: How long has he been working with him?

P. C.: I have known Guillermo for a long time. Several times, during elections, I met Guillermo there. He was advising the electoral system and has always been advising it on that issue. I do not believe that Guillermo would lend himself to cheating in elections. Moreover, it does not stand the slightest analysis here when they steal them (the elections) from the Registrar’s Office. There it is impossible to steal elections. Impossible.

SEMANA: Senator, the most possible thing is that the Conservative Party does not know about the advisories to Maduro from the current Minister of Transportation.

P. C.: Ah, but that is not a criminal act.

SEMANA: But advising Maduro just when the international community says that there are no free elections in Venezuela and that everything is rigged?

P. C.: I believe that this narrative has an interest and that is to delegitimize a government and to take away its credibility. I ask you a question: in Venezuela do they kill the opposition?

SEMANA: They imprison them.

P. C.: Do you think it is good that they set fire to a boy passing by Chacao, a black man, because he was wearing a Chavez t-shirt? Man! Maduro did not order that. It was done by the people of the opposition.

SEMANA: How often do you talk to Maduro?

P. C.: I have not talked to him for a long time. I was at the Sao Paulo forum last year. There were several Colombians there. He was there, he intervened, we greeted each other and that was it.

SEMANA: Would you like to see a regime like Venezuela’s in Colombia?

P. C.: We are very different in terms of what the State and the Government mean. What would I like? That we could have a level of satisfaction of needs as they have there. Over there, anyone can go to the doctor; over there, education is free; over there, for example, they compensate people who do not have food. Through these administrative boards, people are able to receive resources in kind or in money to meet their needs. But each country has its own dynamics, its own challenges, as we do. What would I like? I would like us to have the possibility of total access to education and health.

SEMANA: Are you a rich person?

P. C.: Me? Yes, rich in feelings.

SEMANA: It has been speculated that you have a mining business in Venezuela.

P. C.: Me? It makes me laugh. I wish they had said that. They said that I had killed the owner of the mine to keep it for myself. For God’s sake, I don’t even know where those mines are. What I know most about Venezuela is Caracas, Maracaibo, Táchira, no more.

SEMANA: You have no business in Venezuela?

P. C.: No. I have never had them. Nor am I really interested in them. That is not my life.

SEMANA: Did you ever contemplate the possibility of going to Venezuela?

P. C.: No, this is my country. I lived in exile in Canada and I don’t want to do that again. Not even if they told me that they would put me to live like Lady Di.

I stay here with the paracos, with the guerrillas, with all the bad things we have to build and deconstruct. This is my country and I’m taking my chances. I don’t want to go live anywhere else. Sometimes, it seems very terrible to me that I can’t go to one place, that I can’t go to another. Like when they put an escort on me. I started crying because I didn’t want to have that. But I have never contemplated the possibility of going to live in Venezuela. I love Venezuela, I love it deeply. I have a deep gratitude with that people, and with all those governments. If it had not been for them, the peace agreement would not have been achieved. And I know they are playing an important role now with the ELN.

SEMANA: As a result of what happened with your brother, aren’t you afraid of the same thing happening to you? Are you afraid of being extradited to the United States?

P. C.: No. That does not happen by annexation, then I will also be extradited. That is not so. I have not committed any crime that could threaten the Government of the United States. I do not have any investigation in that sense. I do not believe that one is extradited just like that. I have no fear of any nature. I know that if my brother is going to be investigated there, as they must be doing, what can my brother say? Nothing.

SEMANA: Journalist Gerardo Reyes says that you also interceded for Ñeñe Hernández to be paid money in Venezuela.

P. C.: Me? I think people should ask themselves: Why isn’t she in jail? Why doesn’t she be investigated with everything that comes out? I don’t know where they are inventing them.

SEMANA: You have an investigation for FARC politics.

P. C: Yes, I have a previous investigation.

SEMANA: And they are looking for the testimony of Marlon Marin, Ivan Marquez’s nephew, to testify against you.

P. C.: to testify.

SEMANA: What can you say about yourself?

P. C.: Nothing. I met that guy when I was in meetings with Marquez for the releases. I didn’t like him from the start. I don’t like people who are flattering, who say things to you without knowing you.

I found it very unpleasant and I had the opportunity to tell people very close to Marquez. Once he was here, I received him very reluctantly. I was with Alan Jara, and he was looking to be appointed to something in Caquetá, something about land. I received him because he was Ivan’s nephew. I felt sorry for him, so I received him.

The meeting lasted about ten minutes because I had nothing to talk to him about. He told Alan that he wanted that position. He left and I told him: “Look, Alan, if you appoint him or whatever, it is you, I have nothing to do with that man. In fact, I recommend you not to name him”.

Ivan Marquez, Jesus Santrich and alias “El Paisa” announced the birth of the Second Marquetalia. Today Márquez is in hiding and fearful, the other two were assassinated.

SEMANA: Do you have information about Ivan Marquez and how is he?

P. C: I have no idea.

SEMANA: What happened to the 62,000 dollars in cash that he was carrying at the airport in Honduras and that led to his detention for a few hours?

P. C.: That was arbitrary. I arrived at the airport, I went to work, I did not go to Xiomara Castro (the president), nor with them.

SEMANA: To work on what?

P. C: Some Colombian businessmen asked me to help them identify investments, although they were already there. They were afraid because there was a change of government and that they would suddenly be left out. As I was not yet a senator or anything, I told them: “I do this job and it is worth so much and that’s it”.

SEMANA: 62.000 dollars?

P. C.: The women there took advantage of it. There was a Colombian woman and they asked me to do a conference. We spent the night in the hotel because the airport is very far from Tegucigalpa, almost an hour away. So the guy arrived with the money, I took it with me and I said: I will testify at the airport. When I went to make the statement, a mess started, something that I don’t even know where it came from. I was very calm. Do you think I am so stupid as to take 62,000 dollars in my suitcase to the hiding place and I am not going to declare them? What is more, there is a precedent: the same thing happened to (Manuel) Zelaya, former president of Honduras, exactly the same thing that happened to me.

SEMANA: And have you already recovered the 62,000 dollars?

P. C.: I know that it is in process. I suppose it will work out well, but it is not a cause for concern. I let the lawyers act and I don’t get involved in that.

SEMANA: And why didn’t they deposit that money in a bank account?

P. C.: They arrived at the races and I don’t know, I didn’t see anything wrong. I said: ready, I’ll take it and I’ll deposit it.

SEMANA: Senator, but 62.000 dollars is a lot of money. Is that what you charge for a consultancy?

P. C.: That and more.


P. C.: Of course. I am worth it (laughs).

SEMANA: And who are the businessmen?

P. C.: They are Colombians, they immediately presented themselves and said: “Yes, we will give you the money”. That was not an illicit act.

SEMANA: Did FARC kill the former conservative leader Álvaro Gómez Hurtado?

P. C.: That is the information I have.

SEMANA: What evidence is there?

P. C.: What more proof than the testimony of Carlos Antonio Lozada?

SEMANA: But besides that testimony, what other evidence is there?

P. C: As far as I know, that is it. What they themselves testified and that I urged them to do so. No more.

SEMANA: And why did they take so long to accept that assassination?

P. C.: I ask myself the same question.

SEMANA: You knew the FARC. What do you think happened?

P. C.: When I met them, I would never have imagined that they would have assassinated Álvaro Gómez Hurtado. I felt and still feel a deep admiration for him. We agreed on what he called the agreement on the fundamentals and on overthrowing the regime. I agreed with that.

SEMANA: When did you find out that FARC assassinated Alvaro Gomez Hurtado?

P. C.: I had a very dear friend, I worked a lot with him, he directed two of my campaigns, he was Hector Moreno. He died about two years ago. He called me and said: “Negra, I have some friends who want to talk to you, can you receive them? I imagined it was a human rights issue because he also worked on that. I didn’t even ask him or anything. I told him: tell them I am in such and such a place, tell them to come and I will be happy to receive them. That’s where they told me, I was….

SEMANA: Who were the people who told you?

P. C.: A man and a woman.

SEMANA: From the FARC?

P. C.: I don’t think so.

SEMANA: And why did they have that information?

P. C.: That is what I asked them. There is a lot of material to cut. But after having gone through what I went through with the family of Dr. Alvaro Gomez Hurtado, I don’t want to go back to that subject.

SEMANA: But why haven’t you gone to the JEP to talk about it?

P. C: I have already been called. I have been four times.

SEMANA: And did you tell everything you know?

P. C: Of course. Faced with such an injustice, I could not remain silent. I deeply regret the loss of Álvaro Gómez Hurtado for this country. Injustices were committed there: people were arrested without having done anything and they were going to arrest people in order to charge them with the case of the murder of Álvaro Gómez Hurtado. I had no reason to remain silent.

SEMANA: Do you know who ordered the assassination of the conservative leader?

P. C: No.

SEMANA: And why did the FARC kill him?

P. C.: I don’t know. That is part of the whole event of the 8.000 process.

SEMANA: How are your relations with FARC?

P. C.: What exists now are the dissidents. I don’t want to go back into those issues.

SEMANA: But how is your relationship with Rodrigo Londoño, Timochenko?

P. C.: I never see him.

SEMANA: But why did you break with FARC?

P. C.: I did not break with them. Juan Manuel Santos took me out of the agreement. What was I supposed to be doing there? They continue in their dynamic, I have nothing to do with them.

SEMANA: Did you feel mistreated by FARC?

P. C.: Yes, but you have to turn the page.

SEMANA: Did Timochenko ever talk to you about it?

P. C.: Yes.

SEMANA: And what did he tell you?

P. C.: Ivan Marquez called me several times. I really didn’t want to go to any meeting. I accepted because of Iván. He told me that he apologized, that he was clear that they had behaved very badly with me, that what I had done had been definitive for the peace agreement. I told him: I did not do that out of interest, I would never benefit from you, on the contrary, in Chocó they burned my votes. All my life I worked for a peace agreement and I would do it again if necessary.

SEMANA: Senator, in one word, describe the former presidents. Let’s start with Cesar Gaviria.

P. C.: He handed over the country.

SEMANA: Andrés Pastrana.

P. C.: I don’t know if he realized he was president.

SEMANA: Álvaro Uribe.

P. C.: terror.

SEMANA: Juan Manuel Santos.

P. C.: peace

SEMANA: Iván Duque.

P. C.: no, Hail Mary…

SEMANA: Gustavo Petro.

P. C.: excellent, wonderful, he is my president.

SEMANA: How is your health?

P. C.: very well, improving.

SEMANA: Your health condition was very delicate. What was the diagnosis?

P. C.: It was a kind of stomach thrombosis, which gave me pancreas, and on the other hand, a brutal stress with everything that was happening. That, as they say popularly, threw me to the canvas.

SEMANA: Did you see death and are you afraid of it?

P. C.: I had very strong episodes. I lost consciousness several times for long periods of time. I was very bad. I had moments of dissociative memory, I was not very conscious. Some friends told me: “Negra, you are in bad shape, you don’t realize that there are moments when you are not where you are”. But it was all a product of stress.

SEMANA: Why does Ingrid Betancourt criticize you so much?

P. C.: It’s not that there is no need to give her a lot of crank. She is a mean person. Her mother knows everything we did. She only had to come to sleep, to live here completely. We went to Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Cuba… What doors didn’t I knock on? It is a contradiction. If there was anything that would pay off, it was to hand Ingrid over. She was a close friend of Carlos Castaño and she told me that she had spoken to him to get me released. Castaño told me that she was a close friend of his. I don’t know if it was true or not, but that’s what he told me. So I also felt obliged to work for Ingrid’s release. I did a lot, a lot to get her released. What good did it do me if they kept her there? I mean, tell me really.

SEMANA: Why does she question you? Why does she say that you played with the kidnapped?

P. C.: Because she is infamous.

SEMANA: Is Ingrid a villain?

P. C.: Yes, of course. You can’t say that kind of thing when I put all my political prestige on the line. Instead of having a statue, I have a shitty statue?

SEMANA: Have you cried recently?

P. C.: It’s not that I’m a very loud or weepy person. That is a secret of my personal life.

SEMANA: Are you in love?

P. C.: Oh, that’s nice, isn’t it? Are you envious or what? (laughs).

SEMANA: Is Petro staying four years or more?

P. C.: He stays four years. In order to stay longer he would have to reform the Constitution.

SEMANA: And you would like him to reform the Constitution and stay longer?

P. C.: No. That is not necessary. If we have an established political project, we have to choose the person who will occupy that place and continue. We do intend to stay for a long time defending this project, achieving the reforms. I am very enthusiastic about what we are doing.

SEMANA: And you want to be president?

P. C.: Oh, no, I don’t know, this is such a difficult country.

SEMANA: But if you can, would you be a presidential candidate?

P. C.: If I can, yes.

SEMANA: And do you feel you can?

P. C.: I can do everything. Do you know why? First, because I am genuine. Second, because I have made politics my art of life, my way of living, my way of being, my slogan.

SEMANA: Who saw her? You always lives very elegant.

P. C.: Me. I love it. I tell you: my dad is black, my mom looks German. We lived in a neighborhood where everybody pointed at us because we were the only black people. My cousins came from Chocó. Those were not black, they were blue and then people would knock on our door. They would say to us: “Espanta la Virgen, negro ni mi teléfono, negro no sé qué”. They fucked with us a lot.

Once I came home from school crying because a girl had pulled my braids and tore my dress, calling me black. My mother gathered us all together and told us: “Whoever cries again, or complains because they call her a nigger, I’ll adjust him. So, who was going to cry again because they called him black?

My dad was a person who dressed very well, very elegant, he smelled of perfume. I’m the same way. My mom was very concerned about how we were dressed. We always had to be very clean. I got used to being like that from a very young age, vain, and my dad got us used to it. I never go to bed not knowing what I’m going to wear the next day. I enjoy that. For example, this dress is made of an African fabric.

SEMANA: And is it a designer?

P. C.: I bought the fabric in South Africa. Amelia Toro made it for me. I am a regular customer of hers.

SEMANA: Are you a lover of big brands?

P. C.: I love them.

SEMANA: And what is your favorite brand?

P. C.: My favorite brands are Álvaro Reyes, Amelia Toro, because I am an ambassador of Colombian fashion.

SEMANA: But they say you like Chanel and other international brands.

P. C.: I wear a lot of Petro’s own brand of shoes, Ferragamo. I love them, they fascinate me. What will I have from Louis Vuitton? A handbag.

SEMANA: How often do you repeat clothes?

P. C.: I don’t repeat many clothes. I buy clothes or fabrics that I know will last and distinguish me. I have clothes from years ago. I tell my employee: “Guess how old this dress is? I have a silk one like a tiger, and I remember I bought it because I saw Noemí Sanin with the same dress, the same fabric. I bought it at the Exito in Medellin in 1986, and I still have it.

SEMANA: And jewelry?

P. C.: I love them.

SEMANA: Gold, diamonds?

P. C.: No, I like costume jewelry. My dad, for example, since I was a little girl, he used to buy me jewelry in Chocó. I have a lot of things given to me by my children, and I like pearls, when I was in China.

SEMANA: And turbans?

P. C.: I have as many as you want because I make a turban out of a sheet.

SEMANA: But do you always wear a turban?

P. C.: No. I have my braids. Here you see them. Now I painted them.

SEMANA: How many turbans could you have?

P. C.: So many… I don’t even want to get any more because I have nowhere to put them, honestly.

SEMANA: Thank you for accepting this interview with SEMANA. We were able to talk about all the topics.

P. C.: Thank you very much.

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