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The Threats to Gustavo Petro Must Be Taken Seriously

The recent threats to Gustavo Petro, a leftist candidate for the elections in Colombia, resurrect a specter of politics in the coffee country.

Gustavo Petro

Photo: Wikimedia - Coronades03

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Amenazas a Gustavo Petro: entre la cotidianidad y la preocupación

Colombia will soon elect its next president. The first round of the presidential elections predict a comfortable difference in favor of the leftist candidate Gustavo Petro. According to the polls, whether in the first or second round, the leader of the Historical Pact is the favorite to succeed Iván Duque.

However, becoming the first openly left-leaning president in the history of Colombia makes his candidacy arouse fears and in turn threats. In a violent context where there has always been an attempt to silence political voices, these threats cannot be taken lightly.

In the current presidential race, not only is Gustavo Petro the victim of threats from armed groups, but Francia Márquez has also been threatened. Petro's vice-presidential formula recently denounced that for the third time he has received intimidating pamphlets from the Black Eagles, an armed group with right-wing political positions. Federico Gutiérrez himself received threats while he was mayor of Medellín in 2018 .

So far, several of the candidates have shown solidarity with their contender Gustavo Petro. But, a sector of the right has been reluctant to show solidarity with the maximum favorite and there are even those who suggest that these threats should not be relevant in a country in which threats are part of daily politics.

Despite the fact that threats to presidential candidates have become a daily occurrence within the electoral contest, in Colombia, they are still an obvious risk.

Cases such as those of Luis Carlos Galán, Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, Álvaro Gómez Hurtado, Carlos Pizarro, among others, are clear evidence that violence in Colombia fulfills its threats. All these politicians were assassinated at different times in history and in different contexts, but they are a clear sign that in Colombia, political violence is an issue that must be taken with the clearest precaution by the authorities that have failed in the past, in guaranteeing the right to political participation.

Also read: One Year After the National Strike in Colombia: How Does This Situation Affect the Politics of 2022?

Jorge Eliecer Gaitán

The first great assassination in the history of the Republic. The liberal leader was apparently assassinated by Juan Roa Sierra in the middle of the city of Bogotá on April 9, 1948. As a result of his assassination, Colombia experienced one of its darkest periods known as the "Bogotazo" which was the destruction of the Colombian capital, and "La Violencia" a period of bipartisan warfare between liberals and conservatives.

Carlos Pizarro Leongomez

He was a guerrilla leader of the M-19 group. After going through a peace process with the Colombian government in which he laid down his arms for political participation, he was a presidential candidate in the 1990s. He was assassinated during the electoral campaign when he was on a plane traveling to Barranquilla, a gunman pulled out a gun and shot at the leftist leader.

Luis Carlos Galán

He was a leader of the New Liberalism movement. After holding positions as an ambassador of Colombia in Italy, Minister of Education, and Senator of the Republic, he was one of the most chosen to arrive at the house of Nariño in 1990. He was one of the greatest "enemies" of Pablo Escobar and was the same Medellín Cartel that ordered the assassination of the politician, which occurred in the middle of a public event in the municipality of Soacha on August 18, 1989.

Álvaro Gómez Hurtado

One of the most relevant politicians of Colombian conservatism. He was Senator of the Republic and ambassador of Colombia in the United States and in France. Son of former President Laureano Gómez and one of the most important assembly members of the 1991 Constitution. On November 2, 1995, he was assassinated as he left the Sergio Arboleda University. Today, the demobilized guerrilla group Farc claims responsibility for the assassination.

Today, most of these political leaders have posthumous tributes. Gaitán is the figure of the 1,000 pesos bill; Gómez Hurtado gives the name to the stadium of the municipality of Floridablanca; Luis Carlos Galán gave the name to the Bogotá airport and Pizarro gives the name to several neighborhoods in the country.

Colombia has become accustomed to its great political leaders being assassinated. However, the violence in the country does not allow threats to presidential candidates to be taken lightly and it is urgent that Andean politicians have all the guarantees to be able to participate in politics.