The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, met yesterday with the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, Gerson Chavarro, to press for the election of the new attorney general of the country. The current prosecutor, Francisco Barbosa, ends his four-year term next weekend and it is this judicial body that must choose his successor, from the short list of names presented months ago by the President of the Republic.
The meeting, held at the Casa de Nariño, the seat of the presidency of the country, took place two days before it is to be decided whether to appoint the new prosecutor or to postpone the election. All this in the context of the open fight going on for more than a year between the presidency of the country and the prosecutor’s office, which hold opposing points of view on important issues affecting Colombia.
Although yesterday’s meeting generated strong controversy in social networks, there was a call to respect both institutions. All this after innumerable disagreements and questionings between two of the main powers of the State: the executive and the prosecutor’s office.
Call for institutional respect
The differences between the outgoing prosecutor, Francisco Barbosa, appointed from a shortlist proposed by the former conservative president Ivan Duque, and the current Colombian president, the leftist Gustavo Petro, have been public and notorious. Each accuses the other of not respecting the it institutions of the State.
Yesterday’s call for respect pursues the “purpose of safeguarding the solidity of Colombian democracy”, said sources of the Court of Justice. Colombia has historically been considered the country with the most solid democratic system in Latin America. In the entire 20th century, only one coup d’état shook the constitutional order. This coup took place in 1953, without violence and agreed between the two major parties, Liberal and Conservative, to put an end to the social and political violence that the country was experiencing.
Controversial popular mobilization
The arrival of the first leftist president to the presidency of the country, a year and a half ago, however, has shaken institutional power structures that have always been in the hands of those with the same political ideology. According to President Gustavo Petro, institutions supposedly related to the conservative political opposition, having been appointed by them, are attempting to sabotage his government action.
That is why organizations related to the government, at the instigation of the president himself, have called a public demonstration for tomorrow, February 8, with the aim of showing the support and social strength of the executive.
The president of Colombia wrote in his social networks a comment referring to respect for justice, but not for “impunity”, encouraging the public demonstration. “A progressive government will not attack justice, but it will attack impunity. Progressivism is basically justice, science and popular power. That is why the current situation should not be directed as a pressure to the courts,” Petro indicated in his publication.
“The presidency has asked to organize the coordinators of popular forces in each municipality and department. Any attempt of coup or violence will be answered by the general popular mobilization. The popular movement must gain more decision-making capacity and power in this government,” wrote the president in reference, as he has repeated on several occasions, to an alleged “soft coup” against his government.
Francisco Barbosa’s replacement
Although the Court of Justice met last January 25, to elect as planned the person who will replace the current dismissed prosecutor, none of the three candidates nominated by the head of state, Angela Maria Buitrago, Luz Adriana Camargo and Amelia Perez, managed to gather the 16 votes needed to be chosen.
If there is no decision on the matter by Thursday, February 8, it will be the controversial Deputy Attorney General Martha Mancera, who will assume the position as of February 13. This potential situation has been denounced by the presidency of the country as a maneuver of the judiciary to hold onto power after the departure of Francisco Barbosa, who legally must leave office on February 12.
The three candidates were proposed, according to the Constitution, in a shortlist by the president of the country. However, the final choice is left to the judicial body, which must choose by majority vote the appointment of one of the three candidates.