Demonstrations in favor of the government in Colombia will take place this Thursday, February 8. In the context of the political struggle between the presidency of the country and the Attorney General’s Office, agencies that accuse each other of “institutional rupture”, the country is experiencing a new day of marches, in this case led by supporters of the government of President Gustavo Petro.
One of the promoters of the march is the Colombian Federation of Educators (Fecode), a powerful union that gathers teachers from all over the country and which is itself being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office on suspicion of the entry of alleged irregular money to the campaign of President Petro, in 2022.
Sources inside the union, and the lawyer of the head of state himself, have accused the Attorney General of prevarication, since according to them “he cannot investigate campaign accounts before the National Electoral Council does it”. This is just one more chapter in the long list of disagreements and clashes between two of the most important public powers in Colombia.
Tension between branches of government
The selection of February 8 for pro-government marches is not accidental. Amid ongoing disputes between the country’s presidency and the Attorney General’s Office, the decision on who will succeed the outgoing attorney general, set to leave office this weekend, was expected to be made today or face another delay.
Francisco Barbosa, current prosecutor, is stepping down, after being appointed four years ago, chosen from the shortlist proposed by the previous president, conservative Ivan Duque. Since Gustavo Petro took office, the friction between the government’s branches has been both public and evident.
Thus, today’s public demonstration is interpreted not only as support for the government and for President Petro, but also as a form of pressure for the Supreme Court of Justice to designate once and for all the person who will succeed Barbosa, and who must come out of the shortlist proposed by the current president.
There was no agreement for the election
Earlier in the afternoon, however, it was learned that the Supreme Court vote failed to agree on the name of the person who should fill the position of attorney general. “We advanced the round of voting for the election of the new Attorney General of the Nation (…) the final result is that none of the candidates, for the moment, got the required votes to be declared as elected the new Attorney General, which according to our regulations requires a majority of 16 votes”, declared Gerson Chaverra, president of the Supreme Court of Justice.
Therefore, the body postponed the new vote for next February 22. As of next Monday, and until that date, the number two of the current prosecutor, Martha Mancera, will occupy the position on an interim basis, just what the protesters and the government itself wanted to avoid.
Call for rallies at sensitive points
Today’s march began at 8 am, at three focal points, two of them very significant: the rally was called in front of the headquarters of the Supreme Court of Justice, in Bogota, and in front of the headquarters of the Attorney General’s Office.
Affiliates of Fecode and the Unified Workers’ Center (CUT), Colombia’s main labor union, and of the National Apprenticeship Service (SENA), the public agency in charge of vocational training in Colombia, have gathered there. The columns of demonstrators will meet around midday in Bolivar Square, the center of the country’s capital.
For his part, the Minister of the Interior, Luis Fernando Velasco, insisted that “citizens have the right to demonstrate and to express their demands in a non-violent manner”. Precisely, Minister Velasco has made reference in his comment in social networks to the controversy between Fecode and the Prosecutor’s Office for alleged irregular financing of the president’s campaign.
“Today Fecode, after having its headquarters raided to find out if it contributed 500 million pesos to the Colombia Humana party (information that could be found with a simple visit to the records of the National Electoral Council) marches against the leadership of the Prosecutor’s Office, and receives the support of other union and social sectors”, wrote Minister Velasco.