Saturday, July 13, 2013

Neo-Nazis vs. Petro

Posters on the Plaza del Chorro opposing Mayor Petro and the FARC guerrillas, placed by the Union Nacional Socialista, a neo-Nazi group.(Photo: El Espectador)
Is the campaign to recall Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro a neo-Nazi initiative?

'Petro is staying!' A Petro campaign tent on Plaza Bolivar.
Of course it isn't. The recall's main advocates is Miguel Gómez Martínez, of the conservative Partido de la U, who says that under Petro's watch the city has become chaotic, that Petro mismanaged the city's garbage collection and that City Hall policies are hurting the TransMilenio system and the construction industry. Some of the arguments on Gomez's website actually sound leftist: That Petro has reduced the nutrition in school lunches and the shuttered soup kitchens and neighborhood centers for poor women and children.

But the effort to cut short the term of the leftist mayor and ex-guerrilla has, disturbingly, attracted the support of far-right organizations.

A Gustavo Petro campaign poster. 
In June, Angelica Lozano, a city councilwoman from Petro's Progresista party and a leader of the LGBTI community, released a telephone recording which seemed to show that the neo-Nazi organization Tercera Fuerza had planned a meeting in a building used by Creo Colombia, a youth group which backs conservative ex-Pres. Alvaro Uribe, and which has collected signatures for the recall effort.

More recently, posters from a national socialist organization backing the recall appeared in La Candelaria.

The recall's mainstream backers, who have reasonable if debatable arguments for wanting Petro out, aren't responsible for their extremist supporters. However, they should make it clear that they do not share those groups' ideas and don't want to associate with them.

Altho Petro's popularity is under 50%, the mayor seems confident that he will be able to beat back the recall. His experts are now reviewing the lists of signatures, many of which Petro claims are not valid. To oust him, Petro's opponents must accomplish two things: Get a majority of the votes cast in the recall and also motivate more than 1.2 million bogotanos to participate in the special election. The second is the most challenging, and, according to experts, nearly impossible. For his part, Petro has two strategies to choose from: He can either call on his supporters to boycott the vote, hoping that the minimum participation requirement wouldn't be reached, or campaign to win a majority. The first strategy is probably more realistic, but winning a majority would give his government an endorsement.

A neo-Nazi poster in central Bogotá denounces communism and the FARC guerrillas. 

Free Colombia! (Courtesy of the National Socialists)

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


mauricio forero l said...

I have just one thing to say Mike...Petro se queda carajo.

Gerardo Moreno said...

Mike, I been a loyal reader and I ready do enjoy your publications. With that being said, why do I feel like you don't like Petro? I been though I don't live in Bogota, I feel that he is running a very honest and transparent administration. Isn't that what the citizens of Bogota have been hoping and wanting this whole time?

Miguel said...

HI Gerardo,

Thanks for your comment and for reading the blog. I do support Petro, but with a feeling of disappointment about lack of action on some issues including transit and the environment. I like many of his ideas, at least in principal, altho they're not so easy to implement in practice.

Of course, disappointment is common with every politician.


Miguel said...

HI Gerardo,

By the way, what makes you think I dislike Petro?



Stuart Oswald said...

Petro is the Nazi! And there's no need to include the term Neo in this either. The sooner he's out the better for the people of Bogotá. It's a real badge of shame for Bogotá and Colombia that such a person presides of such a great city. Get him out.

Gerardo Moreno said...

First, let me start by saying that any time you expect too much of a politician specially someone like Petro, you're setting up yourself on a path that leads to disappointment because there will be a lot of resistance that will not let him work. Petro a politician who came into office and cut the corruption from the roots, or should we bring back ex major Moreno and his acquaintances who stole billions of pesos as we all know from the famous "Caso Carrusel" and got of with a few years in prison.

I feel that you guys are not even giving Petro a chance. He is the first of his kind and every time one comes with new ideas and change there tends to be a resistance from the conformist. We all know that these implementations take time, it's just not going to happen over night.