Gustavo Petro, the first leftist president in the history of Colombia, noted that in Nicaragua there is an authoritarian drift that has resulted in a climate of “repression against opponents and political prisoners,” during an interview with CAMBIO Magazine, suggesting that he will maintain a distant policy with the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.
Petro, 62, won the runoff election on June 19 over independent populist, Rodolfo Hernandez.
In his first interview as president-elect with CAMBIO Magazine, Petro was asked about the weight of democracy to sustain peace in Colombia, and it was during this answer when he himself brought up the subject of Nicaragua into the conversation.
Petro was asked: Are you saying is that if there is no democratic space to negotiate nonconformity, are we going to see violence?
“It will explode. We are looking at Ecuador. I cannot get too much into that, but it is an outburst there again. We saw it in Chile. Chile is processing that in a peaceful and democratic manner. We will have to see what happens next. In some of these processes there have been anomalies trying to take them to the past. Then, repression of opponents, political prisoners. Nicaragua, for example. Those who are imprisoned in Nicaragua, and here I am getting way over my head, are the ones who made the revolution against Somoza,” he answered.
“And who were my friends and now they are in prison. And, why? Well, because there are some drifts that are no longer towards democracy and that must be avoided,” added the Colombian president-elect.
This is not the first time that the now president-elect refers to Nicaraguan. When he was a candidate, shortly after the electoral farce of November 7, 2021, in which Ortega and Murillo reelected themselves as president and vice-president of Nicaragua with their rivals in prison or in exile, Petro stated that “that is not democracy.”
On Colombian election day, several Nicaraguan opposition organizations sent a letter to Petro calling on him “to continue with his critical position towards the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship.”
In a press release, the organizations enumerated a series of critical statements by Petro on the Nicaraguan situation: “When a candidate, who at the same time is president… puts his opponents in prison and persecutes his opponents and injures them, well, that is not a democracy. I would not recognize them (the elections in Nicaragua),” said the then Colombian presidential candidate on November 10, 2021.
Afterwards, on November 23, 2021, he expanded his points of view: “Daniel Ortega has imprisoned hundreds of political leaders. Ortega has transformed a libertarian dream into a banana dictatorship.”
Opposition organizations, among which are the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, groups of former political prisoners, exiles, victims of armed raids, among others, said that they were confident that Petro, “from his position as president of Colombia, will continue his efforts in favor of democracy and human rights in Nicaragua.”
Meanwhile, Daniel Ortega sent a note congratulating Petro after the election triumph was ratified: “With all respect and much affection for your people, we salute your election victory today June 19,” wrote the Nicaraguan ruler, who has described Colombia as a “narco-state.”
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