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Colombia: Visit of the UN Security Council and Imminent coup d’État

09 February, 2024 | Ricardo Changala

The United Nations Security Council is visiting Colombia from February 7 to 11, 2024, with the aim of monitoring the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement signed in 2016.

In anticipation of this third visit of the Security Council to the country, the Representative of the UN Secretary-General in the country, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, expressed:

“The visit of the Security Council comes at a decisive moment for peacebuilding in the country, as despite the challenges, there is a renewed political will towards the comprehensive implementation of the Final Peace Agreement and several peace dialogues underway within the framework of the Total Peace policy. Additionally, it begins shortly after the ELN and the Government of Colombia have announced the extension and strengthening of the Bilateral, National, and Temporary Ceasefire.”

One of the priority axes of the Agreement lies in its ethnic chapter, related to the situation and rights of indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, Palenqueros, and Romani people. Therefore, this mission, among other activities, will head to the Valle del Cauca to meet with state authorities and indigenous peoples’ representatives.

The mission arrives in the country at a particularly complex moment, in which many voices, including President Petro himself, denounce coup attempts, intentions to overthrow the current administration through various ongoing strategies.

In a clear demonstration of this political reality, the General Secretariat of the OAS issued a statement on February 8, condemning and repudiating “the threats to interrupt President Petro’s constitutional mandate,” while demanding that attempts by different political actors to harm the democratic process in Colombia be abandoned.

Some time ago, in an interview, President Gustavo Petro stated that while he is the president of the Republic, others hold the power.

Every day, this assertion is confirmed through various channels, especially through the treatment given to the presidential performance by major media outlets, which either construct blatant falsehoods on unfounded bases, distort governmental actions negatively, or completely silence some evident advances of the current government.

Of course, Petro has ups and downs, successes and failures, many contradictions in a country with decades of internal war, seemingly endless violence, and notably socio-economic inequalities.

But as true as that is, the political and economic class and the entrenched power structures in the country do not forgive him for having reached the presidency, and above all, they do not forgive him for attempting to be consistent by governing to fulfill what he promised to do.

In this context, the administration of justice is a key tool in the construction of a democratic state, and therefore, it has become the focus of the current political confrontation, which, as in other countries in the region recently, smells of a coup if not stopped in time.

The Attorney General of the Nation has suspended the Minister of Foreign Affairs from his position with arguments and procedures that are highly questionable. On February 7, Alvaro Leyva Durán sent a letter to the Attorney General Margarita Cabello Blanco, announcing that he is leaving his position immediately because of the provisional suspension he has received.

Additionally, the Attorney General’s Office has been dedicated to “investigating” cases seeking to criminalize the President of the Republic, which in Colombia, as in almost all countries in the world, is prohibited.

The election of the new Attorney General requires the president to submit a list of candidates, and the Supreme Court of Justice selects one person. Petro submitted a list of three women (something unprecedented in Colombian history), technically and ethically impeccable.

At the end of January, it was revealed that 13 out of the 23 judges of the SCJ left their ballots blank, meaning that it is not even known whether they have read the backgrounds of the 3 proposed candidates.

There is no doubt that the intention is to perpetuate Francisco Barbosa, the current Attorney General, in office, who has used his position to protect his political bosses by preventing their prosecutions, in addition to multiple corrupt practices and the use and abuse of state assets, for example, assigning bodyguards, armored cars, and other benefits to a large part of his family. Or having a prosecutor’s office employee as a domestic worker at his home, etc.

The power structures would like, if they cannot extend Barbosa’s term, at least the vice-prosecutor Mancera to remain in office, but under no circumstances a person over whom they cannot exercise absolute control.

Multiple social organizations have reacted and demand that the new Attorney General be elected immediately and from Petro’s proposed list.

On February 8, Colombian social, trade union, and popular organizations marched in Bogotá and several cities across the country in support of President Gustavo Petro and to demand that the new Attorney General be elected by the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ).

These mobilizations were also called to reject the investigation opened by the Prosecutor’s Office against the Colombian Federation of Educators (FECODE), which they describe as political since all its actions have been in accordance with current legislation.

The situation demonstrates the complexity of the Colombian reality, the multiple tensions faced by both the rulers and the general citizenry, and the need to address current issues without losing sight of the major historical structural issues that remain a priority for laying the groundwork towards building a better, more inclusive, peaceful, and democratic country.