Ex-Bogotá Mayor Samuel Moreno dead after cardiac arrest

Ex-Bogotá Mayor Samuel Moreno Rojas/FILE

The center-left politician of Polo Democratico party, and ex-Mayor of Bogotá, Samuel Moreno Rojas, has died after being in an induced coma since Thursday evening. Moreno suffered a cardiac arrest earlier that same day while serving his prison sentence inside the National Police’s Escuela de Carabineros.

Moreno, grandson of General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, Colombia’s only military dictator (1953-1957), governed the Colombian capital between 2008 and 2011, but his administration was involved in a “contract carrousel” that resulted in his arrest on corruption charges.

The so-called “contract carrousel” involved Phase III of the city’s transportation system TransMilenio, in which lucrative construction projects were handed-out through an elaborate network of bribes. Moreno was removed from the Mayoralty in 2011 by the country’s Controller General as a preventive move over technical and contractual errors in preliminary studies for the Bogotá Metro. Five years later, the politician was sentenced to 24 years in prison for appropriation of public resources amounting to COP$2,790 million.

In 2022, Colombia’s Supreme Court reduced Moreno’s sentence to 11 years and 10 months.

According to a statement released by the country’s Military Hospital, Moreno was admitted without any “vital signs,” and doctors reanimated the patient on three occasions. The 62-year-old politician was in intensive care with a “reserved and critical diagnosis.” The Hospital confirmed late Friday that Moreno’s vital organs were failing and he was declared “brain dead.” On Friday night, the death of Samuel Moreno was formally announced.

Samuel Moreno was born in 1960 in Miami, USA, as his parents, and grandparents, were living there in exile. The politician was the son of the lawyer and former congressman Samuel Moreno Díaz, and former presidential candidate María Eugenia Rojas.

The embattled politician held a degree in Law and Economics from the Universidad del Rosario, and a Master’s in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He was married to Cristina González and the father to two children, Mateo and Samuel.