HAVANA – Colombia’s FARC rebels said Tuesday that the decision of Inspector-General Alejandro Ordoñez to oust the leftist mayor of Bogota dealt “another serious blow” to the 13-month-old peace process between the guerrillas and the Andean nation’s government.
“Yesterday, with a simple signature, Ordoñez gave all us rebels a lesson in what democracy really means to the oligarchy in Colombia and in the lack of any guarantees for the right to take an independent political course,” negotiators from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said in a statement.
The team representing the FARC in the ongoing talks in Havana called on Colombian society to “back all acts of repudiation” against Ordoñez.
The Colombian IG’s Office on Monday removed Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro and prohibited him from holding public office for 15 years over a December 2012 crisis involving trash collection in the capital.
The mayor harmed “the principle of freedom of enterprise” and put at risk “the environment and human health of the residents of Bogota,” Ordoñez said.
Trash piled up for a number of days in the city after Petro decided to shift the task from four private firms to the municipal water company.
“What they want to make Petro pay for is his defense of what belongs to the public, which is why this is a battle for an authentic democracy, a unified head-on struggle against fascism and reactionaries,” the FARC said in its note.
The guerrilla group considers the mayor’s ouster a “new episode in the chain of attacks against the establishment of a true democracy in Colombia.”
Petro, 53, described the decision to remove him as a coup.
“Can an administrative authority that is not part of the judicial branch fire someone who was elected by popular vote?” he asked rhetorically on Twitter.
A former M-19 guerrilla who was elected mayor in 2011, Petro suggested that the IG’s office was trying to intimidate other municipal governments that might be interested in reasserting public control over public services.