An insight into Petro’s foreign policy

An insight into Petro’s foreign policy

By Oscar Rotundo

Since Gustavo Petro took office as President of Colombia, it was known that the path ahead would not be harmonious, both within and outside the country.

The electoral coalition that carried him to the presidency comprised a political amalgam more focused on defeating Uribeism in all its forms to create a new playing field in which to pursue its own agenda, rather than consolidating the principles and values ​​outlined by President Petro.

All of this was reflected during a tenure marked by media scandals, judicial battles, legislative hurdles, and defections among his supporters, with occasional missteps in communication stemming from a social democratic perspective that often leaned towards a centrism that worked against him.

In a region highly polarized between an ascendant neo-fascist right and an anti-imperialist left in resistance, politically navigating to try to come out on top is almost impossible.

That is why, as his presidency progressed, his positions in foreign policy appeared somewhat blurred.

Regarding the coup in Peru against President Pedro Castillo and the continuity of Dina Boluarte, Petro expressed at the UNASUR summit held in Brazil on May 29, 2023, his hope for “a process of democratic recovery in Peru,” aligning himself with the position of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and thus differentiating himself from the host, Ignacio Lula da Silva, who had extended the invitation to him.

In February 2023, a dissonant episode occurred when his government firmly joined the international condemnation against Daniel Ortega’s government in Nicaragua, following the exile of 222 political prisoners, stating, “the dictatorial actions of someone who brings to mind the worst moments of the Anastasio Somoza dictatorship,” likening Commander Ortega to the autocrat who held power for over 40 years and whom the Sandinista Revolution, of which Daniel Ortega was a part, overthrew in 1979.

In this way, he aligned himself with the positions of Gabriel Boric, President of Chile, a staunch critic of the governments of Venezuela and Nicaragua, while AMLO maintained a cautious silence, limiting himself to offering asylum to those in need.

In 2024, two significant events occurred. Firstly, Colombia endorsed the US proposal request for an “immediate” ceasefire in Gaza at the UN Security Council, which Russia denounced as an excessively politicized declaration. After six weeks, this proposal gave Israel the green light to demolish Rafah in Gaza. Colombia criticized Russia and China for vetoing the ceasefire resolution, which was also accompanied by the Arab group’s vote against it, with Palestinians at the forefront, considering that the resolution condemned, for the first time, the events of October 7 by the Hamas organization as a terrorist attack against Israel.

The other dissonance occurred with its neighbor Venezuela after Gustavo Petro described the disqualification of María Corina Machado as an “anti-democratic coup,” without considering the long path of destabilization taken by the far-right political leader who has called for US military intervention in Venezuela and supported the punitive and extortionate sanctions that the US has imposed on the Bolivarian nation.

Now, Petro and Lula have proposed, in a joint declaration, a proposal to both Nicolás Maduro and the opposition, focusing on holding a plebiscite during the upcoming elections in Venezuela, scheduled for July 28. “It is about the possibility of a plebiscite in the upcoming elections, which guarantees a democratic pact,” Petro stated.

“We want to ensure that anyone who loses in these fair elections has certainty and security about their life, their rights, and the political guarantees that any human being should have in their respective country,” he added.

Isn’t this suggestion more applicable to the government of Ecuador, which constantly sees political leaders falling victim to criminal assassinations, and which has kidnapped a recognized opposition politician from an embassy on its territory?

The Colombian government proposes a “Latin American solution” to the crisis caused by the police raid on the Mexican embassy in Quito, expressing through its acting foreign minister, Luis Gilberto Murillo: “We believe it is important to overcome this uncomfortable situation for everyone, and we consider that there are scenarios where we can reach an understanding.”

And what about Jorge Glas’s rights and his allegations of torture and illegal coercion?

Petro operates under the principles of peace and democracy without considering the specificities expressed in the different scenarios in which he tries to carry them as banners, both domestically and internationally.

Perhaps Petro is not entirely aware that the external political correlation undermines his projects of progress, democracy, and peace, and that, just as he now stands against Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba in favor of the fascist opposition, with a greater degree of subtlety from the centers of imperialist power, his government’s project is also undermined.

That is why the biblical sentence “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of “my mouth” is quite apt in his case.

He is halfway through his term with no constitutional possibility of reelection, and one of the greatest aspirations, total peace, has hardly materialized, mainly due to issues related to the constant sabotage by many of his allies or officials and his erratic peace policy, susceptible to intelligence operations such as those denounced by the ELN Central Command in the implementation of the agreements signed for the peace process.

In this case, the government must be clear in identifying the interlocutors to carry out the agreements and not be driven by the desire to offer results and negotiate or grant status to anyone who presents themselves, as denounced by the ELN COCE regarding the government’s progress in including “ELN people” in negotiations in Nariño, when the organization itself is in a period of calling for the VI National Congress of the ELN, in which all War Fronts and their specialized structures will participate, addressing all the issues related to the unity of command and its policies.

We already had disagreements in this area when attempts were made to equal criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking with armed political organizations.

Colombia, with the tragic and constant American intervention in its political life and its rich history of dignified struggles that have made it possible to elect a protagonist of the process of rupture towards the construction of a new equitable and sovereign society, must be clear that to achieve its objectives, it must confront those who constantly work against the popular interests and that the international right knows well who their allies are in every corner of the planet.

United World International

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May 2024