A proposal by Polo Democratico Congressman Franklin Legro seeks a
constitutional amendment to allow ex-members of the M-19 to run for
public office. The proposed amendment would also give paramilitaries
and individuals who have committed crimes against humanity the same
The proposal seeks to amend article 122 of the Colombian Constitution, which prohibit those
convicted of offenses related to membership, promotion or
financing of illegal armed groups or drug trafficking, from registering as
election candidates for elected offices or being appointed as public
Legro’s proposed amendment would add the
phrase: “Except for political crimes or peace processes past or
future agreed upon by the government.”
M-19 was a guerrilla group that demobilized and signed a treaty with the government in 1989. They formed a political party to pursue their left-wing social goals through legitimate channels. Today some ex-members of the M-19 are Polo Democratico representatives in Congress.
Legro argues that following the signing of the treaty “the
peace processes of 1989 were thrown in the trash and the reformed
rebels prohibited from access to state positions”.
Polo Democrático senator Gustavo Petro recognized that Legro wanted to remedy the situation but said that in doing so would “open the door to those who have committed crimes against humanity, and the paramilitaries”. He proposed a revision of the amendment when it reaches the senate.
Legro pointed out that Polo Democrático members such as Antonio
Navarro, the governor of Nariño, and senator Petro himself were ex-M-19 rebels who gained public office. “At some point they were convicted but pardoned as a result of a peace process,” he said.
I want to leave the door open to future peace process and I think it is
appropriate to provide this option in the Constitution,” he added.