Rodolfo Hernandez, the $100 million nominee Colombia presidential elections

Colombian presidential candidate Rodolfo Hernandez, pictured last May 15, in Bogota.Mauricio Duenas Castaneda (EFE)

Rodolfo Hernandez is a millionaire and everyone loves to know him. Speaking frankly about his possessions, he says that until recently he had at least five in Miami and that he had just bought an apartment in Bogota because if he won the presidency, he wouldn’t want to live in Casa de Nariño. Being a businessman in a country like Colombia helped him gain support in his presidential race. His mother Cecilia Suarez told him before his idea of ​​his desire to become president: “What is the need to be such a rich man.” He usually says that he inherited Doña Cecilia’s explosive personality and being a “tireless worker”. His constituents talk about the success of his business as a value. “A millionaire politician will not steal,” one of his voters in Yopal said after the first round.

The fortune of Rodolfo Hernandez, 77, 100 million dollars, as he himself admitted. 70% invest in land and 30% move into financing the housing projects he builds and sells, he said in an interview with the magazine. mouths. Hernandez founded the company that is now known as HG, after he was dismissed, at the beginning of the seventies, from the Secretary of Public Works in the Santander government, headed by Jaime Trilos. In 1972 he joined Guillermo Gómez and Abelardo Serrano, two business friends of his who live, like him, in Piedecuesta, and set up HGS Construction. Soon after, Cyrano withdrew from the company and remained under the HG name. Gomez died three years later, but Hernandez kept the name, which ended up becoming his trademark. Nobody who lived in Santander had never heard of HG.

The name Rodolfo Hernandez is connected above all with the urban development of his native Pedequista. It was a closed town and turned it into a city. At that time we didn’t have a double road, only one small road This newspaper was reminded by former Governor Miguel Arenas, who said the candidate now used his good reputation in the city to expand his position to Bucaramanga and grow his finances. “There he changed construction methods, and he brought in different modern facades,” Arenas recalls.

His path in the real estate industry stumbled in the financial crisis of the 1990s, which engulfed banks, savings and housing firms. According to him, at that time he had up to 1,500 houses built, but without a buyer. He risked Hernandez offering loans himself and working as a banker. It was at this time that the draft Plan 100 began. Under the guidance of two Argentines who accompanied him until the beginning of his presidential campaign, in 1994 they began lending money to low-income people. HG requested the initial installment, 20%, and the remainder was financed for 30 years at a fixed interest rate, which was not always met. “The best job in life is to lend money, even if it is at a level a littleRodolfo Hernandez said without hesitation, who repeated several times that the best advice he received from his grandmother was applied throughout his life: “Work with the poor and you will become rich.”

Two police officers guard the lounge of candidate Rodolfo Hernandez, in Bedequista.
Two police officers guard the lounge of candidate Rodolfo Hernandez, in Bedequista.Natalia Angarita

home lender

Hernandez began charging fees like the banks. By day and by night. any day of the week. According to various sources in Bucaramanga, the key to Hernandez’s fortune is that he not only built, but also became a lender to the homes of thousands of families eager to own a home of their own. “I’m taking out mortgages, this is a milk cow. Imagine about 15 years old a little man paying me interest. That’s exhilarating,” we heard her say in a voice.

HG grants loans at interest rates similar to those of banks and facilitates procedures for future buyers. They offer clients a “free investment real estate loan” and they lend them a “guarantee of debt repayment.” A person who believes in his project tells this newspaper how what seemed like a promise of goodwill ended up being a nightmare, worse than if he was dealing with a bank. In 1995, HG handed over some homes in Giron, in the Bucaramanga metropolitan area. They were houses of social utility, accessed for an initial fee, which they handed over to Hernández himself in cash, with the obligation to pay the remainder in instalments, which would maintain one’s value. It will pay many years to them. Some found it difficult to pay this monthly amount and ended up losing their homes and being left homeless. The houses came back into Hernandez’s hands better than he gave them. The candidate and his company, according to public information from the judicial branch, have lawsuits against dozens of families in Bucaramanga to carry out non-payment mortgages.

Hernandez said in various interviews that the key to his fortune was the poor. “My grandmother Lola, who was illiterate and who raised me, told me one thing I never forget: ‘If you want to be rich, work with the poor. Because there are so many poor people. Make them quality products, at the right price, win them over’. a little And the sum of all of them a littleIt makes him rich. The truth is, I ignored him. “I have dedicated myself to these 52 years,” he said recently in an interview with Alexandre Torinegra, CEO of Torre.co. He also said something similar to the magazine. week. The rich do better when the poor have money in their pockets. The rich are those who aggregate the supply of goods and services. The poor are the consumers.

The candidate talks a lot about the land, and makes jokes about the outstanding price at which he sold so much. In a meeting with his team at the Bucaramanga Municipal Office, he recounted an anecdote that his construction company “wobbleed” with the prices he had negotiated on the land. Pieces “never age,” says Hernandez, and they’re the best investment because they don’t lose value. “The land is worth more every day because of the capital gains that the state itself generates from the lot. And what the neighbors do, and all that others work on, it takes the lot, which also has another advantage: it is never old. This apartment is old, but the land is not. Someone asks him: “Hello, how old is this lot?” He said to Bocas Magazine.

The land, around which Colombia’s history has centered, for Hernandez, is nothing but a profitable business. “I fund small buildings I do and I take out mortgages, this is the milk cow.”

A prototype of the houses that presidential candidate Rodolfo Hernandez promised to build for peasants.
A prototype of the houses that presidential candidate Rodolfo Hernandez promised to build for peasants.Natalia Angarita

your taxes

Rodolfo Hernandez loves to talk about his money. He is a millionaire who jokes that he is a rich man in Bucaramanga, a beggar in Bogota, and a beggar in New York. With a fortune like the one he admitted to owning, questions arose about how much he had taxed. Hernandez, who has not released his income statement, said he pays 20 million pesos a day (about $5,150). The financial resources of his company, HG, are in the hands of his wife Socorro Oliveros. “She saves everything, she has a sense of rationalization. I am more flexible. She takes the money and says, ‘That’s with me, but I give you a lot.’

Since 1994, Hernandez says, no bank has set foot. He asserts that he canceled “everything” and decided to work with his capital. In Colombia, where construction companies rely on banks to lay the groundwork for their projects, Hernandez’s business is an exception. He finances the business himself and what he takes out of his pocket he takes back with loans to those who want to buy their homes and who pay him fees for many years, month after month.

The candidate and his family own six businesses and more than 370 properties including lots, apartments and buildings, according to an investigation he conducted. empty chair. In Florida, they own HG Constructora LLG, which was set up in 2019 under the direction of Oliveros and Luis Carlos Hernández, Jr. who wanted to raise a millionaire’s commission for a garbage diversion contract.

Rodolfo Hernandez Companies in the United States.
Rodolfo Hernandez Companies in the United States.rrss

“One is not separated from living well, but from doing foolish things. I have devoted myself to providing, above all, housing for the poor and now I have the ability to finance buyers for up to 20 years, cheaper than any bank in Colombia,” Hernandez said in an interview with Semana, recalling how he became a millionaire, said, “I don’t ask for papers, the only thing I ask for is a citizenship card.” The construction mogul will check on Sunday whether showing homes and thinking about Columbia as if it were a company would work for him to get to the presidency.

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