Paramilitary presence lurks behind Gustavo Petro´s political assassination
The still shocking removal of Gustavo Petro as Bogotá mayor yesterday added to the recent electoral evidence that Colombian paramilitary-political alliances are flourishing, certainly more than their left-wing critics.
Petro, it seemed, had won. He and his supporters were ready to celebrate. Then, everything changed. Changed completely.
The courts turned a final thumbs down Tuesday to a legal challenge of the mayor´s firing. Then in the middle of the night an international human rights court seemed to ride to the mayor´s rescue when it recommended protective measures which many assumed would prevent Petro´s firing.
President Juan Manuel Santos had indicated earlier he would respect the human rights court´s recommendations. Many thought he would.
Then, while thousands gathered in Colombia´s political centre, La Plaza de Bolivár, to celebrate the supposed victory, Santos struck a rapid, hard blow against Petro and his supporters.
He ignored the Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos´s recommendation, fired Petro and appointed an interim mayor.
Colombians woke up today again reminded they live in a country where politicians can buy votes, work with paramilitaries and permit the murder of human rights defenders with near impunity. But a left-wing politician can purportedly be removed from office and barred for another 15 years, all supposedly for restructuring the city´s garbage collection system.
Not many really believe Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez fired Petro because there were three days poor garbage service in Bogotá in December 2012.
That Petro removed massive, lucrative contracts from allies of the political right, allies of Ordóñez and former president Álvaro Uribe is more believable to many.
That Petro, the intellectually combative former M-19 guerrilla leader, made his name in Colombian politics exposing paramilitary-political connections is even more believable to many.
Especially when one considers Petro exposed much of the paramilitary-political conspiracy that planned nothing short of the complete takeover of Colombia. He was also the first to charge paramilitaries financed Uribe´s 2002 election campaign.
Wednesday´s rapid events obscure the larger picture: The continuing struggle between the still strong paramilitary-political alliance and those on the Colombian left who have risked lives and careers to oppose it.
An independent analysis by Fundación Paz y Reconciliación of the March 9 elections show 70 of 131 candidates connected to various illegal, armed groups were elected in Colombia’s congressional elections.
The revelations provided by the analysis reveal some 53 per cent of candidates with connections to armed, illegal Colombian organizations such as paramilitaries, organized crime or guerrillas were elected. (Most of the illegal connections were with paramilitary groups.)
Petro´s exposes of paramilitary infiltration of Colombian political life earned him the second most votes in the 2006 senatorial elections.
But the paramilitary efforts to dominate Colombian political and economic life did not end when Petro, then others, exposed them. They continue today.
That recently re-elected Polo Democrático Senator Iván Cepeda is also being investigated by Ordóñez is rather ominous. It´s especially ominous when one considers Cepeda is also one of the fiercest critics of paramilitary-political links, especially when it comes to Uribe. He has authored two books that delve into Uribe and his family´s paramilitary connection. Though he finished near the top of all senators elected on March 9, he could soon be removed by Ordóñez.
Cepeda, a forward thinker, has asked the CIDH to examine his case, before Ordóñez has the opportunity to fire him.
And, that Piedad Córdoba, another of Uribe´s most persistent critics met a similar fate, strongly suggests a systematic elmination of popular, left-wing politicians. Ordóñez removed Córdoba from office, and barred her from politics for 18 years.
Life goes on in the capital: Labour Minister Rafael Pardo has taken over as appointed mayor, the Marcha Patriótica are calling for marches and strikes, and FARC negotiators in Havana, Cuba again said that Petro´s removal raises suspicion´s about the government´s ability and intent to permit left-of-centre Colombians to participate in politics.
Peace negotiations with FARC rebels continue in Cuba, while paramilitary-linked politicians obtain political office and elected left-wing politicians are removed.
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