Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Colombia: Update--Santos Appoints Acting Mayor of Capital, Mayor Petro Could Still Be Reinstated

According to The Latin American Tribune, President Juan Manuel Santos on Monday (April 21) named Bogotá planning chief María Mercedes Maldonado as acting mayor pending a still-unscheduled special election to choose a permanent successor to the ousted Gustavo Petro.

Maldonado replaces Labor Minister Rafael Pardo, who served as mayor for the past month after Santos ratified a December 9, 2013 decision by the Inspector General’s Office to remove Petro for alleged mismanagement.

The President chose Maldonado from a list of three candidates put forward by Petro’s leftist Green Alliance.

The other candidates were former Bogotá municipal secretary Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo and Senator-elect Antonio Navarro Wolff, governor of the southern province of Nariño.

The president said he was sure that Maldonado “can do very important work while the (local) elections are held” to select a new Bogotá mayor to serve until the end of the term for which Petro was elected, on Dec. 31, 2015.

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,” Colombian Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez said in his December 9 decision ordering Petro’s ouster.

The order issued by Ordoñez was uniformly criticized in Colombia and abroad, with even Petro’s political foes accusing Ordoñez, an outspoken right-winger, of having gone too far.

Besides removing Petro as mayor, the IG’s decision bars the 53-year-old Petro from holding any public office for 15 years.

Santos carried out the decision after Petro’s attorneys failed to secure a binding injunction against the order. 

Even so, Colombia’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, may yet order the mayor reinstated.

In his brief statement on Monday (April 21), Santos emphasized that he acted in accordance with prevailing laws and the Constitution.