Colombian President Petro Condemns Soft Coup in the Making

Orinoco Tribune, May 10, 2024 ─ 

The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, has condemned what he has termed the beginning of a soft coup against him, following a Congressional panel order for a preliminary investigation regarding the financing of his 2022 electoral campaign.

Petro wrote via social media this Wednesday, May 8, that donations to political parties are not illegal, specifying that “alleged expenses after the electoral campaign ends are being presented as if they were part of the campaign,” responding to an op-ed from the far-right Semana news outlet accusing him of violating Colombian campaign financing rules after the alleged payment of COP 60,000 to almost 35,000 electoral witnesses, totaling COP 1 billion (approx. $258,000).

The request for the investigation will next be analyzed by all of the electoral council magistrates, who will make a decision on whether to formally open the investigation.

“The soft coup has begun,” reads the Colombian president’s post, questioning the fact that there is no doubt about the donations made to the Democratic Center by Keralty, a company of Spanish origin that owns the Sanitas Healthcare Company, but about those made by unions to the Colombia Humana movement led by Petro.

The charges were filed by two judges of the National Electoral Council (CNE), who alleged violations of the limits on the amounts permitted by law to be spent during a process of political proselytism.

President Petro also added that the expenses on electoral witnesses who take care of the votes already cast do not constitute a campaign act, but rather, as he stated, they are a citizen’s right and obligation. The campaign by law ends before election day, he explained in his post, as reported by Prensa Latina.

This is not the first time that the president has condemned attempts to remove him from power. Last February, he reported on social media that facts repeated several times in the campaigns of other political parties, such as the one to which former Attorney General Francisco Barbosa (of the Democratic Center party) belongs, and which have been previously declared legal, in his case are being criminalized.

He stated at that time that it is for this reason that unions have been raided, torture has been carried out, and pressure has been used on witnesses to have the president accused, but they have not been successful.

The preliminary investigation filed today against Petro’s presidential campaign requires that eight CNE judges, with the exception of the two plaintiffs, vote on the approval of the probe. If they decide against it, the process would be archived.

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