Saturday, February 15, 2014

Colombia: Update--Mayor of Bogotá Petro Contends That Changing Date of Referendum is Illegal

According to The Latin American Tribune, the Colombian electoral authority has scheduled April 6 as the date for the recall referendum for Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro, originally scheduled for March 2, although the date was postponed this week because of budget delays.

The new date was established in a resolution signed Friday by the registrars of the District of Bogotá, Esperanza Mejia and Jaime Hernando Suarez Bayona, according to a communiqué issued by the electoral authority.

The national registrar, Carlos Ariel Sánchez, told reporters that the Finance Ministry has already received the resolution ordering the allocation of money necessary for holding the referendum; it was the delay in funding that forced the referendum to be postponed.

COMMENT: The referendum is a different process from the leftist mayor’s ouster ordered December 9, 2013, by Colombian Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez, for the supposed mismanagement of a crisis in the waste collection system that occurred in 2012.

That sentence has not been carried out due to appeals filed by the mayor’s attorneys before national courts and international organizations.

For the mayor to be removed from office, a referendum is required with a participation equal to at least 55% of the total valid votes cast in the elections of October 2011, which Petro won, and that half of the vote plus one be in favor of the ouster.

Petro said Saturday (February 15) that the Colombian electoral authority’s decision to postpone the referendum until next April 6 “is illegal.”

In messages on his Twitter account, Petro mentioned that the  decision to delay the recall referendum, originally set for March 2, and said it is illegal because it violates an article of Colombian law.

Mayor Petro at a very young age became a member of the M-19 terrorist group. After leaving the group, he went on to serve in both the House of Representatives as well as the Senate and in time was reelected as the Mayor of Bogotá.

He is scheduled to face a recall referendum on April 6, although he contends that delaying the referendum from the original date of March 2, 2014, violates Colombian law. He is an economist by training.