Reports indicate that on November 8 a key witness in the Odebrecht scandal, Jorge Enrique Pizano, suffered a heart attack and died in his home near Bogotá. Subsequently, on November 11, Pizano’s son Alejandro died from cyanide poisoning, after drinking a bottle of water he found at his father's desk. Officials later confirmed the cause of death. Jorge Pizano was the controller of “Ruta del Sol”, a public works concession which comprises the construction of a major highway across Colombia. Odebrecht supposedly bribed officials to secure construction contracts for the said highway. Pizano first Pizano first spoke about the alleged corruption in 2015 to Néstor Humberto Martínez, a judge who became the incumbent Attorney General in 2016. Pizano’s statement was reportedly key to continue investigating the scandal, which broke in 2016 after investigators demonstrated that the Brazilian conglomerate paid considerable bribes to politicians across Latin America.
While medical reports indicate that Jorge Pizano died of natural causes, it is yet unclear whether Alejandro committed suicide, was deliberately poisoned, or drank cyanide meant for his father. Bearing in mind the controversial circumstances behind both deaths, further judicial queries could potentially determine criminal involvement in the Pizano’s deaths. In any event, the incident will likely prompt a political response, especially considering Enrique Pizano’s ties to the incumbent Attorney General. This assessment is underscored by data published by a poll conducted between November 9-12, which indicated that corruption is perceived as the most important challenge in Colombia.