A number of members of European parliament have asked the European Union on Monday to suspend the free trade agreement with Colombia over the controversial removal of former Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro last month, reported El Espectador.
Jurgen Klute, a German member of European Parliament (MEP) reportedly sent a letter to the EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton demanding the EU suspend its free trade agreement with Colombia over the dismissal of Petro on March 20.
Klute’s letter argued that Petro’s dismissal equated to a “serious lack of for the rule of law, human rights and democracy, which are explicitly mentioned in Article 1 of the free trade agreement between the EU and Colombia as its very foundation.”
An additional 11 MEPs have also expressed their wish to suspend the FTA between Colombia and the EU until the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) makes a ruling on Petro’s dismissal.
The IACHR is investigating whether the sacking of Petro was legal under the court’s laws. Colombia is a member country of the IACHR but has said that the international body’s assistance is only necessary when Colombia’s internal legal system is not functioning properly. It is not clear what measures the IACHR will have at its disposal should the court rule against the legality of Petro’s removal from office.
Gustavo Petro, Bogota’s former mayor, 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.
Less than two weeks ago, Colombia saw the conclusive sacking of former Bogota mayor Petro by the President Juan Manuel Santos himself, bringing a definitive end to months of speculation, but not the controversy.
The final decision followed months of legal and political battles, initiated by the announcement of Petro’s dismissal on December 9 last year by Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez. The decision was supposedly made in response to the former mayor’s failed reform to the capital city’s waste collection service.
Petro has been replaced with an interim mayor, former Labor Minister Rafael Pardo.
The mayorship of Bogota is widely considered to be the second most important position in Colombian politics.