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News > Latin America

Colombia Leftist Candidate Denounces Electoral Violence at OAS

  • Gustavo Petro, once a member of the now-defunct M-19 rebel movement and mayor of the capital between 2012 and 2015

    Gustavo Petro, once a member of the now-defunct M-19 rebel movement and mayor of the capital between 2012 and 2015 | Photo: EFE

Published 8 March 2018

Petro and his supporters have criticized President Juan Manuel Santos for failing to address the issue of security during the electoral campaign.

The leftist former mayor of Bogota Gustavo Petro, the frontrunner in the upcoming Colombian elections, gave a warning on Thursday to the Organization of American States, or OAS, about “the rising violence” and the “growing lack of conditions for peaceful elections.”

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After meeting with OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro in Washington D.C., Petro spoke with reporters about “the rising violence, the killings of social leaders,” the attack on his caravan on March 2, while campaigning in the city of Cucutá, as well as “more and more violent campaigns,” especially on social media.

“We are requesting the financial and technical assistance of the OAS mission in Colombia, considering the growing inability of carrying out peaceful elections in Colombia,” he declared.

He also criticized “the behavior of various governmental institutions, especially the Public Ministry, which does not guarantee transparency.”

Last Monday, the Public Ministry denied Petro's allegations that his caravan had been hit by bullets.

Since the Havana peace agreement was signed between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government 50 people associated with the group have been killed in 44 separate attacks, including two political candidates, 28 former fighters, 12 family members, and ten party activists.

Meanwhile, over 200 social leaders have been murdered as paramilitary groups seek to take over territory previously held by the FARC.

On the same day Petro's caravan was attacked, Senator Alvaro Uribe was confronted by a massive protest by Cauca University students who called Uribe a "murderer" and allegedly threw rocks at the candidate and his supporters.

The Cauca region has been gravely affected by paramilitary groups linked to Uribe's party Centro Democratico (Democratic Center). Uribe has also been the staunchest detractor of the peace agreement signed by Santos with FARC.

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