According to one of Colombia’s leading opposition politicians, Gustavo Petro, “we are not in a democracy” and warned his many followers that “they have given the order to destroy us.”
The former guerrilla-turned-senator made the claim on Twitter on Thursday amid an investigation over a video showing Petro receiving $6,300 (20 million pesos) for one of his political campaigns.
Far-right senator Paloma Valencia, whose grandfather was president of Colombia in the 1960s, revealed the video during a debate in which Petro, a staunch anti-corruption advocate, denounced the multi-million dollar bribes from Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht to politicians and state officials.
“All Humane Colombia’s activists must understand that they have given order to destroy us. We are not in a democracy.” Petro said.
The opposition politician urged his followers to prepare for protests if necessary and mobilize solidarity abroad. Petro has said he has also received death threats. Multiple of his followers have been murdered.
At the request of Petro, Colombia’s Supreme Court began a preliminary investigation on Wednesday to determine whether or not there exists suspicion of illegal activity after the controversial National Electoral Council, which consists of representatives of Colombia’s traditional political parties, opened an investigation into the senator.
Petro, his followers and other opposition politicians have said that the scandal over Petro receiving cash is purposely blown out of proportion.
House Representative Angela Maria Robledo (Green Alliance), who was Petro’s running mate in elections earlier this year, said that the uproar over Petro receiving cash is a smokescreen to cover the Odebrecht bribery scandal that has put Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez and President Ivan Duque in the corner.
“They can not hide the fact that the chief prosecutor must answer for the complaints filed by Jorge Robledo, Angelica Lozano and Gustavo Petro. They can not hide the major corruption that is marring the country,” she said.
Colombia’s chief prosecutor, a controversial politician from the corruption-ridden Radical Change party, has come under almost unprecedented pressure after audio recordings revealed he knew about Odebrecht’s bribery practices, but failed to investigate.
President Ivan Duque, who is also implicated in the corruption scandal, presented a shortlist of candidate special prosecutors to investigate the case, but the list was returned by the Supreme Court, which appears adamant to adequately investigate the scandal that is rocking Colombia’s establishment’s very foundation.