Might the US Support a Coup in Colombia?

Might the US Support a Coup in Colombia?

The Colombian oligarchy wants to remove Gustavo Petro from the presidency. Are US actors helping?

The following article is an important update about the threats in Colombia of a coup against the administration of President Gustavo Petro and Vice President Fráncia Márquez. Petro and Márquez came to power riding a wave of popular mobilizations for peace and democracy. The efforts of the Colombian oligarchy to topple the elected government are following a pattern we have seen in other US sponsored coups, including the recent overthrow of the government of Pedro Castillo in Peru. In fact, we can see efforts across Latin America and the world to cajole, pressure, and/or outright threaten Center-Left governments that exercise “too much” independence from the Halls of Empire in Washington, DC.

Because of these national, regional, and global threats to people’s choices, the People’s Human Rights Observatory (Observatorio de los Derechos Humanos de los Pueblos) is calling for an International Day against US Coups and Interventions for September 11, 2023, the 50th anniversary of the US supported coup against Salvador Allende in Chile. The PHRO is an international coalition based out of Oaxaca, Mexico. If you would like to learn more about these efforts and find out how you can get involved, please send an email to James Jordan at [email protected] .

Might the US Support a Coup in Colombia

By James Patrick Jordan

As Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Vice President Francia Marquez near the one year anniversary of their election, efforts to undermine their government are escalating. In some cases, these have included assassination threats and attempts, and calls for a coup. Many political opponents are engineering what increasingly appears to be an effort to remove President Petro by “lawfare,” manipulations designed to give a semblance of legality in the removal of legitimately elected governments. For many, all these elements are familiar, as if they are taken from playbooks for coups in Latin America and elsewhere that were supported by the government of the United States. Another approaching anniversary is the 50th anniversary of the US supported coup against Salvador Allende in Chile on September 11, 1973. It is not at all unreasonable for us to look at what is happening today in Colombia and ask if US actors are playing any role in this unrest….

It is not too much of a stretch to conclude that the enemies of democracy and the opponents of the Petro administration in Colombia are prepared to use a variety of approaches to bring down this government. But, what about the United States? Might the US, or US actors, support a coup in Colombia?

Unfortunately, there are signs that, true to form, US actors may well be doing just that. Real democracy in Colombia is not something the US wants. Sovereignty, independence, and popular power are not conducive to maintaining Colombia as Uncle Sam’s favorite puppet in the hemisphere.

Lawfare is a method that has become increasingly popular on the part of the Latin American right, more often than not, with US support. A few examples are the removal of Manuel Zelaya from the presidency in Honduras in 2009, the violent but short lived 2019 coup in Bolivia, and the removal of Peru’s elected President Pedro Castillo in 2022. In each of these cases, the US played a direct role.

There are indications that the Biden administration is taking a multi-faceted approach to reining in any attempts by Petro and Marquez to act independently or at odds with US designs for the region. On one hand, we see displays of cordial relations. On the other hand, there were more questionable activities, including a scheme by DEA agents to embarrass and derail the Petro campaign even before he had won the presidency.

Various reports relating to ongoing cases against former Senator Piedad Córdoba and her brother, Álvaro, show that US agents from the DEA posed as Mexican narcotraffickers who attended an event organized by the former senator and tried to have photos taken with then-candidate Petro, and to offer him campaign contributions. While the cases against the Córdobas are themselves problematic and full of irregularities and based on the testimonies of paid informants, the efforts of the DEA agents to associate directly with the Petro campaign constitutes direct interference in Colombia’s electoral affairs….

Republican Congresspersons have been especially confrontational and provocative regarding the Petro administration. This is evidenced by denunciations of the Petro administration by Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and others. Shortly after his election, Cruz accused Petro of being a “Marxist” and “anti-American” and proposed the Caution Act in Congress to limit aid to Colombia based on certain conditions. Particularly provocative was an April 19, 2023 visit to President Petro by Rep. Marco Diaz-Balart of Florida. Diaz-Balart is Chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and Co-chair of the Colombia Caucus.

In a press release following the visit, Diaz-Balart proclaimed that… Read the entire article here…

Read in Spanish here…