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Investigation: Colombian President Gustavo Petro went on date with trans woman in Panama

Colombian media reported details from an investigation corroborating rumors about President Gustavo Petro and his alleged infidelity

El presidente colombiano respondió a escándalo tras supuesto video siendo infiel
El presidente colombiano respondió a escándalo tras supuesto video siendo infiel | Collage ADN América/ Shutterstock

July 9, 2024 2:14pm

Updated: July 10, 2024 2:59am

An investigation published by the Colombian digital media La Silla Vacía corroborates rumors that President Gustavo Petro went out with a transgender woman during his trip to Panama a few weeks ago.

The rumors began after a video circulated in which the president allegedly walked hand in hand with a young woman in a blue dress, who is not his wife in the historic center of the Central American country.

Reports suggest the individual walking hand in hand with the far left Colombian president may have been Linda Yepes, who made history as Colombia’s first transgender female TV reporter.  

The story immediately erupted into a scandal, and ignited debate about the right to transition in the socially conservative country where, according to the U.S. Department of State, 73% of the nation’s population identify as Catholic.

Since then, the images, which have gone viral on social networks, have also raised questions about their authenticity, and whether they are real or simply a montage or manipulation.

While Petro has declined to confirm or deny whether the reports are true, he lashed out on the X social media platform, accusing his conservative political opponents of using the situation to rile hatred against the Colombian transgender community.  

“I am heterosexual, but you will never hear or read a transphobic word from me. Because not only would he [sic] stop being a man, but also human. The thousands of transphobic messages that have exploded in the hands of a right-wing, deeply exclusive, ignorant and discriminatory society must be rejected by the president. I have always considered that privacy is the ‘last ratio’ of freedom, the last trench of being free, and I will maintain this principle until I write about myself or die.”

When Univision asked Yepes about the video, the transgender journalist only confirmed their whereabouts in the Central American country at that time but declined to talk about Petro.

“I was in Panama. I love Panama. I cannot speak about the details yet,” Yepes reportedly said.

According to their reporting, La Silla Vacía journalists traveled to Panama City, where Petro was visiting toward the end of June to attend the inauguration of newly elected president, José Raúl Mulino.

La Silla Vacía’s investigation reveals that after the investiture ceremony, Petro purportedly went out with the trans woman on June 30, the same date the South American president was supposed to attend a dinner event being held for outgoing Panamanian president, Laurentino Cortentino.

Two direct witnesses who work in the area told reporters that they recognized Petro that night in Panama’s historic district. One of them, whom the publication only referred to as Fernando “is the one who appears with a hat in the video that has circulated,” La Silla wrote on July 9.

Fernando, referred to as a “key witness” in the article, told journalists that he asked Petro if he was really the president of the South American country or if he was only a lookalike.

“After inviting him to enter the store, I recognized that he was the president of Colombia, and when I asked him, 'Are you the president of Colombia?' He answered, 'more or less, more or less.' Then he lowered the cap he was carrying a little,” the man said.

Another of the witnesses told the digital media that “he [also] recognized Petro.”

The publication reported that, “12 people from neighboring businesses (the scene of the events) told them that Petro’s visit was highly commented on and that the details of the [location in the ]video coincide with the [features of the] plaza where they work.”

To support these assertions, the news portal requested images from cameras in the area, but “some places refused” to share them while “others did not have visibility of the street where Petro walked, and in two nearby places where he passed … the recordings had been erased,” they explained.

La Silla Vacía also published images taken from Google Maps and compared them with the place where Petro was allegedly seen with the woman and concluded they "coincide" with the scene depicted in the  controversial video.

The digital site also revealed however, that when they asked if Linda Yepes, the transgender woman linked to the video, was the one who accompanied the president in the notorious images witnesses could not confirm her identity.

Finally, the media spoke with a member of Linterna Verde, an NGO that works on issues of digital spaces, which said that “the videos do not present evidence of having been made with AI (Artificial Intelligence).”

The exhaustive search for La Silla Vacía also involves other details that ensure that the figure in the video  was indeed Petro, who was visiting the historic center of Panama and enjoying the company of a woman who is not his wife.

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