In line with Colombia’s far-right’s rhetoric, Pablo Escobar’s former assassin “Popeye” insinuated on Thursday that presidential candidate Gustavo Petro might have to be killed.
In several tweets, the controversial opinion maker compared Petro with Carlos Pizarro, the leader of the demobilized M-19 guerrilla group who was assassinated while running for president.
If commander Carlos Castaño hadn’t killed Carlos Pizarro, Colombia today would be worse off than Venezuela today. We lack memory. Today Gustavo Petro leads the polls, a comrade of Pizzaro.”
Jhon Jairo Velasquez, a.k.a. “Popeye”
Carlos Castaño led the country’s most bloodthirsty death squad that assassinated thousands of leftist activists and political leaders between the 1980s and his death in 2004.
Popeye referred to fear-mongering by the country’s staunchly conservative and far-right candidates who have claimed that the country’s peace process and the possible election of Petro would plunge Colombia in a crisis similar to that of socialist-run Venezuela.
Colombia’s polarized political climate has been causing political violence for hundreds of years. The country’s largest paramilitary organization AUC and the country’s largest guerrilla group FARC have demobilized, but the violence continues.
Extreme-left ELN rebels continue to attack security forces and oil infrastructure while paramilitary groups, guerrillas and “sicarios” like Popeye used to be have killed more than 200 social leaders since the FARC signed peace in December 2016.
An ongoing peace process between the government and the Marxist FARC has been dismissed by the hard-right. Both guerrilla and political leaders have been accused of scores of war crimes.