Court overturns Ordóñez´s ban of Medellín mayor who revealed paramilitary-political connections
Just when Colombian Inspector-General Alejandro Ordóñez looked like an unstoppable force, a Bogotá court overturned his order Thursday banning former Medellín mayor Alonso Salazar from politics for 12 years.
It´s an event which gives hope to former Bogotá mayor Gustavo Petro, who was ousted from office and banned for 15 years purportedly over his restructuring of the capital´s garbage collection system. President Juan Manuel Santos signed the papers last week removing Petro, despite the request by the Comisión Internaciónal de Derechos Humanos that Petro be allowed to remain. The international body said it would violate Petro´s political and human rights to remove him before the comisión could determine whether the decision was justified.
Petro congratulated Salazar for the restoration of his political rights on Thursday. The Alonso case “is a demonstration of the arbitrariness of Ordóñez,” Petro wrote in his Twitter account.
Salazar and Petro have much in common. They´ve both been removed from office by Ordóñez and both fought to expose Colombia´s persistent infiltration of politics by deadly paramilitary forces.
Independent investigators say at least 25 per cent of the candidates elected in the March 9 congressional elections have paramilitary connections.
Salazar´s case reaked of injustice, even more so than Ordóñez´s removal of Petro, a former M-19 guerrilla leader who represents almost everything the ultra-Conservative Ordóñez opposes in Colombia.
Salazar was removed for releasing photographs of another Colombian politician in company of paramilitaries. It´s the sort of activity that not only puts a political career at risk, but someone´s life as well.
Ordóñez, however, chose not to congratulate Salazar for his courage, but to severely reprimand him for “political interference.”
The high court known as the Consejo de Estado ruled that the sentence Ordóñez imposed on Salazar was “disproportionate”. That is the word used frequently to describe the 15-year banned from public office that Ordóñez imposed on Petro. Even many of the left-wing mayor´s opponents have criticized the length of the ban and said it was time to re-examine Ordóñez´s powers.
It remains to be seen what impact the high court´s decision will have on Colombia´s desire to reign in Ordóñez´s powers.
Vice-president Angelino Garzón ruffled his boss´s feathers when he said this week that Colombia had taken a step backwards in term of human rights and its international repuation with the firing of Petro.
Another Santos ally, Congressional President Juan Fernando Cristo, added his voice to those wanting to re-examine Ordóñez´s powers in the wake of Petro´s firing.
For more information please read: