Colombia President Santos won’t play saviour for embattled Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro


Bogotá´s left-wing Mayor Gustavo Petro´s fight for his political life received a major blow Tuesday when President Juan Manuel Santos said he was staying clear of the political crisis that has gripped Colombia for more than a week.

(Photo: David Hogben) Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro appealed for help from Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in his battle not to be removed and banned from office. But Santos said Tuesday he will stay on the sidelines and not become involved in the battle.

(Photo: David Hogben) Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro appealed for help from Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in his battle not to be removed and banned from office. But Santos said Tuesday he will stay on the sidelines and not become involved in the battle.

Santos announced he would have nothing to do with the dispute that has divided Colombia, threatened Petro´s political future and cast doubt upon the future of peace negotiations with Colombia´s rebel army the FARC.

“I am not taking sides, I said this from the beginning … the inspector-general and Petro know I´m not taking sides,¨ Santos said today in an interview reported by El Espectador, after meeting separately with Petro and Inspector-General Alejandro Ordóñez.

Petro has been fighting to save his position as Bogotá mayor since Inspector-General Alejandro Ordóñez rocked Colombia last week with the announcement that he would use his extraorinary powers to remove Petro as mayor and bar him from any public office for 15 years.

Ordóñez purportedly made the move over Petro´s removal of garbage collection contracts from the private operators, but many believe it was in response to the Bogotá mayor´s campaigns against corruption and paramilitary links with Ordóñez´s political allies. Petro was seen as a strong candidate for the Colombian presidency in 2018. Ordóñez has previously removed another popular left-wing politician Piedad Córdoba and barred her from public office for 18 years. He purportedly took this action, because of links between her and the FARC.

Córdoba was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for usng those same links to negotiate the release of hostages held by the FARC.

If Ordóñez´s attack against human rights activists and critics of links with the paramilitaries are allowed to continue many expect Congressman Iván Cepeda will be the next left-wing politician removed and banned from office.

Cepeda, like Petro, has been a severe critic of former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe and publicised his many paramilitary links.

Despite, Petro´s major setback on Tuesday, the embattled former M-19 guerrilla leader still has some possible avenues available to prevent Ordóñez from removing him from office.

Petro is expected to plead his case this week to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

He also hopes to make his case to the highest officials of the Organization of American States, but will require Santos´s permission before making this appeal.

For more information please read in Spanish (sorry, as yet there are no English reports on today´s developments available): http://www.elespectador.com/noticias/politica/santos-dijo-petro-y-el-procurador-saben-no-voy-tomar-pa-articulo-464627

For background in English: http://davidhogben.com/2013/12/15/petro-says-only-colombias-president-santos-can-fire-him-from-office/

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About Connecting Colombias

Recently retired newspaper reporter with one foot in British Columbia, Canada, the other in Colombia, South America. Fascinated with Colombian culture, Canadian connections, and heroic efforts to return millions of displaced Colombians to lands stolen by paramilitaries, guerrillas and organized crime.

2 responses to “Colombia President Santos won’t play saviour for embattled Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro”

  1. colombiadiaries says :

    Thanks for updating us and for the El Espectador link. At least Santos didn’t deny that there was an ousting (unlike the National Strike). But surely a president should intervene when an official oversteps the mark. If Petro’s ousting and 15 year political ban remains, Santos will lose credibility in the peace process negotiations.

    • Connecting Colombias says :

      I share your thoughts. I suspect Santos might prefer to work on this file behind the scenes. He might also be criticised sharply by the political right if he intervenes in a quasi-judicial ruling, even if it is obviously corrupt. Politics seems so much more complicated before an election.

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