Thursday, February 28, 2013

No More Petro?

Sign here to revoke Mayor Petro!

Opponents of Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro announced this week that they have collected more than the 290,000 signatures required to hold a vote on revoking him from the mayoralty.

This wasn't hard to see coming. From the start, the election of Petro, a one-time leader of the M-19 Guerrillas, was controversial.

The poorly thot out new garbage collection scheme generated lots of discontent, which was compounded by the valorizacion plan, which is to tax particular districts of the city in order to pay for public works in those areas. Inconveniently, however, somebody has to pay for those public works which everybody wants.

While Bogotá's poorest neighborhoods are the areas most in need of new public works, they have the fewest resources to pay for them. Ironically, the anti-Petro campaign says that it has collected many signatures in poor neighborhoods, which makes me wonder whether those signers knew what was good for them.

Ousting Petro could also be a blow to hopes for a peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas, who are negotiating with the government in Havana, Cuba. After all, the fact that Petro, an ex-lider of the M-19 guerrillas, holds the nation's second-most-important political position provides proof that armed insurrection is not necessary to effect change. Petro's ouster, even at the ballot box, would be seized on by some to claim that the system's rigged.

But Petro may yet survive. If the registraduria decides that opponents collected enough valid signatures, an election will be organized, in which 1.2 million people must vote. More than half of those people would have to vote in favor of revoking Petro. I'm not sure exactly what would follow: a new mayoral election? Or would someone else be designated to complete his term? What about the second-highest vote-getter, Enrique Peñalosa? And, in case of a new election, could Petro run to succeed himself?

Whatever happens, it's a valuable exercise in civi participation. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

1 comment:

Stuart Oswald said...

It's astonishing to think that some people have a right to that of others.

Crazy as well that people like Petro even made it into office. Murder, violence and all that other bad stuff really can buy you legitimacy. Colombia is showing serious signs of corruption when a person such of Petro holds power over good people's lives, when he should be locked up far away from anyone good.

Then again, that is democracy. The electorate are finding out the hard way of giving such a person office.

Obviously those in support of him will be happy to disagree. One things for sure Bogota has become worse under his stewardship.