Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro receives public support; his supporters receive death threats
Support for Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro continues to grow; unfortunately so do death threats against his supporters.
While Petro continues with a variety of legal appeals in his fight to hang on to Colombia´s second most important elected position, a poll shows Bogotá residents are solidly backing their embattled mayor.
The poll found 73 per cent of Bogotá residents said they did not support firing and banning the left-wing civic leader for 15 years as ordered by Colombia´s Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez.
The former M-19 guerrilla leader also received limited support from the Liberals, one of Colombia´s oldest, most entrenched political parties.
The Liberals announced after lengthy debate they opposed a recall vote against Petro, and the possibility of another election to replace him if he is ousted by recall or by Ordóñez. Though the Liberals said they often oppose what they called Petro´s inflexible political style the cost of the two elections could build some 2,550 homes for Colombians.
The Liberals argued it is more sensible to wait and see how the variety of legal challenges between Petro and Ordóñez work out before spending money on expensive, perhaps needless elections.
Both a former police colonel – who was in combat against Petro´s M-19 – and an organizer of marches in favour of Petro have received recently threats.
José Gotardo Léon who filed an appeal that claimed Ordóñez´s firing and banishment of Petro for 15 years damaged his and other Bogotá voters´ human rights said he has received threats in his email.
And Petro organizer José Cuesta has received threats on Twitter suggest he might soon smell like chemicals used to embalm human bodies.
And the judge who ruled that Petro´s dismissal should at least be delayed until the appeals against Petro´s firing can be heard said he, his wife and his daughter have been subjected to verbal threats as well as others received through social media.
Jose Maria Armenta told the media he has requested urgent protective measures for him and his family. Lawyers and judges are in the same dangerous situation in Colombia as are human rights workers and union leaders. Threats and attacks against them are common. And murders of judges and lawyers representing human rights complainants result in convictions in only about five per cent of the cases.
Ordóñez has recently completed a number of media appearances where he defended his reasons for firing Petro – purportedly for mismanaging the capital city´s garbage collection – which, he said, endangered public health for a few days and damaged the principles of free enterprise.
Ordóñez argued Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is obliged by the Constitution to proceed with Petro´s dismissal by Jan. 29. That could involve the president appointing a successor or calling elections to replace the outgoing mayor.
The death of another Petro organizer has already been blamed on the mayor´s opponents.
The body of Gerson Martínez – a Petro supporter and community hip hop activist – was found in his Bogotá neighbourhood earlier this month. His family said he suffered two bullet wounds. A Bogotá Humana banner, the mayor´s trademark campaign to reduce violence and improve livability in the Colombian capital, was found nearby.
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