Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro has told his political supporters that “either you are with me or against me” after his endorsement of President Juan Manuel Santos’ reelection bid caused division within the Progressives movement, reported newscast Noticias Uno.
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Councilors and senators of the Progressives, who are part of the Green Alliance political party of centrist presidential candidate Enrique Peñalosa, had reportedly expressed their dissatisfaction with Petro’s decision to support Santos without consulting party members.
According to Noticias Uno, the reason for the discontent is the claim that the Progressives members only heard about the agreement with Santos’ coalition the day after Petro signed up for the reelection coalition consisting primarily of traditional parties, according to Noticias Uno.
The agreement was signed last Tuesday. The reported confrontation followed the day after.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, the agreement was proposed by Petro himself, who a few days after being reinstated as Bogota’s mayor requested a private meeting with Santos.
Despite having been dismissed from office only to be reinstated again, Petro is now supporting the very man who fired him.
Councilman William Moreno went as far as saying that the agreement between Petro and Santos aimed to increase support for ongoing peace talks with the FARC.
The talks are supported by both Petro, a former guerrilla, and Santos, but are receiving strong opposition from conservative sectors of Colombian society.
Two of eight Progressive members of the Bogota city council supported Petro’s decision to endorse Santos. The remaining six continue to support Peñalosa’s bid to take over the presidency from Santos, Noticias Uno reported.
Petro was removed from office in December 2013 due to alleged irregularities that were uncovered in his attempts to transfer the city’s privatized garbage collection system into public hands. This allegedly resulted in 9,920 tons of uncollected garbage left on the streets.
As a result, Colombia’s Inspector General, Alejandro Ordoñez, decided to dismiss the city’s mayor and ban him from serving in public office for 15 years.
Since his dismissal, Petro has appealed the decision many times, though all of his “tutelas” or writs of protection were denied by Colombia’s State Council. Petro was reinstated at the end of April after after a ruling by the Superior Court of Bogota.