Monday, January 20, 2014

Colombia: Update--Cundinamarca Judge Issues Injunction Blocking IG's Ouster of Bogotá Mayor

According to The Latin American Tribune, Judge José María Armenta of the Administrative Tribunal for Cundinamarca Department has determined that the action of Colombian Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez violated Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro’s fundamental rights in supporting Petro’s termination for alleged mismanagement.

The Judge’s court issued a temporary injunction Tuesday (January 14) blocking enforcement of a decision by the Inspector General’s Office.

Supporters of the leftist mayor, a former rebel, have mounted protests in Bogotá since December 9, when Ordoñez’s office announced its decision to oust Petro and bar the 53-year-old leftist from holding any public post for 15 years.

COMMENT: The injunction comes a day after the IG’s office rejected Petro’s appeal, putting the ball in the court of President Juan Manuel Santos, who has the final say on whether the order will be enforced.

Judge Armenta urged President Santos to delay his decision until after the Administrative Tribunal issues its final ruling.

Ordoñez’s office has the option to appeal the IG’s injunction before the Council of State, Colombia’s highest administrative court.

Petro, a former senator, asked the IG office to review its decision while simultaneously seeking to have the matter removed from Inspector Alejandro Ordoñez’s jurisdiction, alleging that the prominent rightist was biased against him.

The IG’s office flatly rejected Petro’s request to have his appeal reviewed by a special prosecutor not subject to Ordoñez.

Trash piled up in Bogotá for several days in December 2012 after Petro decided to shift responsibility for waste management from four private firms to the municipal water company.

The mayor harmed “the principle of freedom of enterprise” and put at risk “the environment and human health of the residents of Bogotá,” Ordoñez contended.

The action of the IG’s office has been roundly criticized in Colombia and abroad, with even Petro’s political foes accusing Ordoñez of having gone too far.

Petro has publicly appealed to Santos to delay a decision on his ouster at least long enough to allow the mayor to face Bogotá voters in a recall referendum set for March 2.

The push to recall Petro is led by Miguel Gómez Martínez, a member of Santos’ conservative party who represents a Bogotá district in the Colombian Congress.

I would fervently agree that Mayor Petro’s recall referendum on March 2 be permitted to go forward pending any decision by President Santos. If the Mayor prevails in the referendum, he should be permitted to continue as mayor of Bogotá.