Colombia Develops New Strategy Against the Left


It is becoming increasingly clear that right-wing elements in Colombia no longer need to slaughter leftist politicians on the grand scale of years past in order to preserve their hold on power. The right’s latest response to emerging democratic advances in Colombia has been to simply banish leftist politicians from office. Just this week, Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez ordered that the left-leaning mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro, be removed from office and prohibited from participating in politics for 15 years. Petro is not the first Colombian leftist to be banished from politics by Ordoñez; three years ago, he banned former senator Piedad Córdoba from holding office for 18 years.

Ordoñez ruled that Petro’s failed attempt to de-privatize the city’s garbage collection system by replacing private contractors with public sector jobs violated the country’s constitution. Petro was not removed from office due to corruption or the manner in which he bungled the transition from private to public sector, but because his decision to replace private contractors violated the free market economic doctrine demanded by conservatives. As Ordoñez stated in his ruling, Petro was fired for “violating constitutional principles of commercial competition and freedom.”

Petro, a former M-19 guerrilla, made his name as a popular senator who waged an anti-corruption campaign against the right and was highly critical of the administration of former president Alvaro Uribe. He was elected mayor of Bogotá in 2011 and was viewed as a potential future candidate for president.

For his part, Ordoñez is a close ally of former president Uribe and was appointed inspector general while Uribe was in power. The inspector general is responsible for ensuring that elected officials adhere to the constitution; possessing the authority to remove public officials from office if they are deemed to have violated the
Leech_Capitalism_Cover-191x300constitution. But in recent years it has become increasingly evident under Ordoñez exactly how much power the inspector general wields. Further troubling is the perception that many of Ordoñoz’s decisions have been ideologically motivated.

In 2010, Ordoñez banished leftist senator Córdoba from public office for 18 years. Córdoba had been authorized by the government to negotiate with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to gain the release of captives held by the guerrilla group. Córdoba was an advocate of peace talks with the rebels and a harsh critic of the Uribe government’s security policies and related human rights abuses by the military. Ordoñez ruled that the senator “exceeded her functions as well as the authorization she was given by the government to negotiate a humanitarian exchange,” alleging that her public statements promoted the FARC’s cause. And so her political career was effectively over.

Last year, Ordoñez waded in to the “false-positives” scandal that dominated Uribe’s final year as president. At the time, there were 1,274 active investigations into the extra-judicial assassinations of 1,386 civilians by the Colombian military during Uribe’s term in office. But the inspector general’s revision of the legal interpretation of what constituted a “false-positive” effectively dismissed 782 of the investigations by deeming them to be “deaths in combat” and moving jurisdiction for them from civilian courts to military courts.

Ordoñez has further exhibited his conservative views by publicly supporting Uribe’s efforts to change the constitution to run for a third term as president back in 2010, denouncing the current peace talks  between the government and the FARC, and criticizing efforts to legalize abortion and gay marriage.

The order to remove Petro as mayor of Bogotá and his banishment from politics for 15 years is just the latest in a series of ideologically-motivated actions by Ordoñez that have targeted high-profile leftist politicians while he has openly supported the right-wing Uribe and hindered efforts to prosecute military personnel for gross violations of human rights. Two decades ago, leftist presidential candidates were assassinated to prevent them from winning elections; today, the Colombian right simply prohibits them from running for public office.

Garry Leech is an independent journalist and author of numerous books including Capitalism: A Structural Genocide (Zed Books, 2012); Beyond Bogota: Diary of a Drug War Journalist in Colombia (Beacon Press, 2009); and Crude Interventions: The United States Oil and the New World Disorder (Zed Books, 2006). He is also a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Cape Breton University.

Garry Leech is an independent journalist and author of numerous books including Capitalism: A Structural Genocide (Zed Books, 2012); Beyond Bogota: Diary of a Drug War Journalist in Colombia (Beacon Press, 2009); and Crude Interventions: The United States Oil and the New World Disorder (Zed Books, 2006). ). He is also a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Cape Breton University in Canada.

Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Ron Jacobs
The Murderer as American Hero
Alex Nunns
“A Movement Looking for a Home”: the Meaning of Jeremy Corbyn
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Xanthe Hall
Nuclear Madness: NATO’s WMD ‘Sharing’ Must End
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Uri Avnery
Abbas: the Leader Without Glory
Halima Hatimy
#BlackLivesMatter: Black Liberation or Black Liberal Distraction?
Michael Brenner
Kissinger Revisited
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Jason Cone
Even Wars Have Rules: a Fact Sheet on the Bombing of Kunduz Hospital
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Marc Norton
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
David Rosen
If Donald Dump Was President
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Ronald Bleier
Am I Drinking Enough Water? Sneezing’s A Clue
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
David Yearsley
Papal Pop and Circumstance
October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?