Colombia’s President Ivan Duque on Wednesday overturned curfews imposed by governors and said the medical federation’s recommendation to impose mandatory isolation was “absurd.”
In an absurd change of events, Duque invoked the extraordinary powers he took as part of a national emergency to overturn all measures taken by governors and mayors to prevent the spreading of the virus.
On top of that, the president called the Colombian Medical Federation’s recommendation to, among other things, impose mandatory isolation “absurd.”
Duque’s actions and words put the unpopular president on a collision course with regional authorities, the medical community and much of the population, which largely rejects the government.
The mayor of the capital Bogota, Claudia Lopez, said on Twitter that her administration’s mandatory isolation drill will continue, adding that “now is is not the time for competition and childish vanities but for taking care of ourselves.”
According to Lopez, she had informed the national government about the four-day drill she was preparing.
More than half of Colombia’s governors had issued curfews to curb the spreading of the virus amid public concern about Duque’s perceived ineptitude and slow response to the pandemic.
Apart from stripping lower authorities of their powers, Duque decreed the mandatory isolation of citizens above 70, financial resources for companies affected by the crisis and reconnecting homes who had been cut off from the water grid because they hadn’t paid their utility bills.
The governor of Colombia’s largest province Antioquia, Anibal Gaviria, ignored Duque and continued coordinating regional measures with mayors.
The mayor of the city of Villavicencio told Duque on Twitter that “it is the municipalities that are taking the risks, the costs and the lives.”
The measures we mayors and governors have taken are the result of our understanding of the complexity of the situation in the regions. It is the municipalities that are taking the risks, the costs and the lives.
Villavicencio Mayor Juan Felipe Harman
Whether other governors will obey Duque’s decree is uncertain as the unpopular president barely has moral authority, especially after investigations kicked off into his alleged involvement in rigging the 2018 elections.