Well, this sucks. Bogotá just lost a progressive and very popular mayor:
The Procurator General’s Office (Public Ministry) of Colombia removed from office the mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro, on Monday, and prohibited him from performing all public duties for fifteen years due to his handling of a garbage-collection crisis in 2012.
“The Procurator’s Office imposed as sanction upon Mr. Gustavo Petro a removal from office, and general prohibition from exercising public functions for a term of fifteen years,” said procurator Alejandro Ordoñez upon reading out the public declaration.
Petro, a former M-19 guerrilla, was elected mayor in 2011 as a candidate of the Progressive movement for the 2012-15 term.
In December of last year, Petro tried to change the method of garbage collection in the capital, and proposed exchanging the contractors who performed the service for an official agency. Several days later, with the streets filled with bags of garbage, the mayor reversed his decision.
He is the second mayor of Bogotá to be removed from office. In May 2011, the Procurator’s Office suspended then-mayor Samuel Moreno for neglecting to properly oversee public works contracts in the city. Moreno, who has always denied the charges, has been in prison since September 2011, and is currently awaiting trial.
The Mayoralty of Bogotá is the second most important electoral post in the land, after the presidency, since Bogotá is Colombia’s largest city, and in fact many capital mayors later became presidents.
A relatively minor thing like garbage collection seems an odd reason to depose a mayor from office. If that were the case everywhere, the Majunche would be out of a job himself; the garbage in the state of Miranda, Venezuela, has been piling up on a regular basis since the little fascist prick decided he was more “useful” gunning for first Chavecito, then Maduro. Toronto had a garbage crisis of its own a few years back (actually, it seems to have “garbage crises” on a regular basis!), and no mayors were sacrificed in the resolution. I haven’t heard of this happening anywhere but Bogotá! No, I don’t believe this is the real reason Gustavo Petro was ousted. I suspect it’s just the pretext for something else. What? Well, how about sabotaging some FARC-EP peace talks, currently under way in Cuba?
The Colombian FARC guerrillas have called the ouster of the mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro, a “grave blow” to the peace process. Petro, one of the most distinguished leftists in the land, was prohibited from public office for fifteen years.
The pronouncement of the leftist Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) comes a day after the Procurator General, Alejandro Ordoñez, made public the sanction against Petro, a former M-19 guerrilla, considered a probable candidate for the presidency in 2018.
“The decision of the procurator is another grave blow against the peace process in Havana, which affects confidence and credibility,” stated the FARC in a communiqué on their Internet page.
“For several years the establishment has insisted hypocritically on the success of Petro being a demonstration that in Colombia it is possible to conduct leftist political activity, without weapons,” added the rebel group, criticizing the procurator’s decision.
According to Ordoñez, the mayor established a model of sanitation outside of the law, violating the principles of free enterprise and competency, with which he committed a severe fault in stopping the collection of garbage in December 2012.
Petro, 53, changed the means of garbage collection in Bogotá, which was in the hands of private operators, and handed this task to the Aqueduct Agency, which caused the city to end up inundated in trash. The mayor’s office returned to contracting the service to some private operators after the crisis.
“Yesterday, with just the stroke of a pen, Ordoñez gave armed rebels a lesson in what democracy means to the oligarchy in Colombia, and over the empty guarantees of performing an independent political exercise,” stated the guerrilla group, considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.
Petro took up the mayoralty of Bogotá, the second most important political job in Colombia after the presidency, in January 2012. The guerrilla group to which he had belonged handed over its weapons and demobilized in 1990.
His electoral victory was considered an example of how the guerrillas could abandon armed warfare and do politics, one of the points which the government is negotiating with the FARC in a peace dialogue with which they seek to put an end to the internal conflict of about half a century, which has cost more than 200,000 lives.
Last month, the two parties met in Cuba to agree to guarantees for the right to exercise political opposition, which would establish the basis for the guerrillas to abandon arms and convert themselves into a party if the peace process culminated with the signing of an accord.
Translation mine, again.
So now it’s painfully obvious what the real agenda is. This isn’t about garbage, or free enterprise, at all! This is about preventing the rise to presidency of a popular leftist mayor, who also happens to be an ex-guerrilla (long since disarmed) and a major player in the peace talks. Which, it now appears, will either stall or be broken off entirely. In that light, the fifteen-year prohibition on Petro taking any public office reads clearly as a political move, one designed to effectively bar him from all political activity, as well as a warning to other democratic leftists seeking change via the public political route (as the FARC communiqué indicates). He can’t return to the mayoralty, or to the senate, where he previously presided over peace talks, working with Chavecito in getting the FARC to hand over hostages, some of them quite high-profile. (Such efforts have been sabotaged before.) And of course, he can’t make any more positive changes to the capital city of Bogotá, either.
It may not be another Gaitán assassination, but I think this move effectively condemns Colombia to years and decades more of political violence. The fact that there is not a second Bogotazo in response to this outrage speaks less to the Colombian people’s peaceful intentions than, I think, their utter resignation to the likelihood that things will never truly change.