SEMANA Editorial – Gustavo Petro is today the favorite candidate in the polls that measure the intention to vote for the next presidential elections. But at the same time, he is the politician that the majority of Colombians (30%) identify as the promoter of the strike, according to the most recent SEMANA survey, conducted by the National Consulting Center.
The unprecedented protests have now gone on for almost a month, have spiraled out of control due to violence and have millions of people and companies in the country on the brink of bankruptcy, although many of the protesters’ demands are just.
What has been the role that Petro has played during the strike? At least 52 percent of those surveyed consider his performance to have been negative, and only 37 percent applaud him and say it has been positive. Regardless of what the polls show, it is well worth taking a cool head look at the behavior of the main opposition leader and pointer in the presidential polls amid the most difficult situation in the nation in decades remembered.
One of the best ways to evaluate Petro is by reviewing his pronouncements on social networks, which have become his main communication platform. Between April 27 and this week, the leader of Human Colombia has said that the country is a “dictatorship”; he has compared it to “Burma”; he has claimed that Buga is like “Gaza”; he has indicated that crimes against humanity have been committed; he has requested the resignation of the Director of the Police; he has accused President Duque of giving “an order” for a “massacre”; he has assured that Uribe follows a “neo-Nazi” script; He has spoken of a “coup d’état” and even of a crisis that, in his opinion, was not seen even during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.
At first glance, everything Petro has said is clearly an exaggeration or a lie. However, in a heated and violent environment, his words turn to gasoline, and all they do is ignite more hatred at a time when Colombians demand greatness and good sense on the part of their political leaders in order to carry out the reforms that citizens demand, mainly young people.
For this reason, Petro is wrong and is playing, literally, with fire: what today can make him popular tomorrow could cost him a costly bill in political terms and leave him without options in the presidential elections.
The former mayor of Bogotá should know that, as the strike spreads and the violence worsens, many glances will be directed at him, regardless of whether he has given orders or not, since it is indisputable that he is the most visible political face of the protests.
So much so that he has invited people “not to open their business, not take out their car, not go to work, not buy soft drinks, not go to buy anything in large commercial areas, not make financial transactions and withdraw from private funds. of pensions”.
That a political leader who aspires to direct the destinies of Colombia makes these exhortations, some between unusual and dangerous, is just a small sample of his true spirit and of what he could do with the enormous power from the House of Nariño if he wins the presidency in 2022.
Petro in principle wanted to be seen as prudent in the face of unemployment. In an audio leaked to the media, the leader is heard talking with several leaders of the National Unemployment Committee, to whom he tells: “The moment the Government decided to withdraw it (the tax reform), the popular victory should have been declared and stop there ”.
But in a contradictory way, in his social networks the only thing he has done is to continue supporting the strike, and his messages are increasingly radical. Meanwhile, it is difficult to believe that he is not behind a grand strategy in the midst of the mobilizations, since the congressmen related to his political cause, and not only of Human Colombia, have been in the front line. And the country has seen them in the riots, sharing videos under tear gas, trying to impede the role of the public force, and inflaming spirits in the streets and on social media.
Senator Gustavo Bolívar, Petro’s bishop and one of those most interested in him reaching the presidency, also tends to turn to populism and demagoguery calling for the resignation of President Duque, despite the fact that he was elected in democracy, and has fallen into the the height of the absurd by accusing him, in a slanderous way, of being a “sad murderer”.
He now calls the defense minister a “butcher” and a “bloodthirsty.” Is that inflammatory language, without filters or limits, of the self-proclaimed progressive leaders, who have defended the so-called “politics of love” of their leader in the past, is what Colombia needs today? Gustavo Bolívar has questioned the obvious and denied the obvious, which is that, because of the blockades, many cities suffer from food shortages and several hospitals have been in trouble due to lack of oxygen. Even a baby could not be born because the ambulance was caught in a protest.
Gustavo Bolívar was seen in recent days in the United States, in meetings with congressmen, to whom he sold a version of the country that is not completely real. Although there have been reprehensible excesses of some police, Colombia is neither a dictatorship nor an oppressive state dedicated to violating human rights, as Bolívar claims. As the nation faces a serious economic crisis and a threat to security, he and Senator Alexánder López did not go to Washington to ask for more help, but to demand that cooperation resources be frozen.
Other congressmen sympathetic to Petro have played a controversial role. House representative María José Pizarro has given orders to Esmad in the midst of the protests, when that is not her role. Congressman Alexánder López has allegedly stopped arrests apparently in flagrante delicto; his colleague Wilson Arias has tried to impede the work of the uniformed men; and the representative Inti Asprilla, a Petrist figure in the Green Alliance, has published the videos of her drowned by gases in the riots.
The demonstrations have exposed several members of the Unemployment Committee that, although they take pains to say that they represent some sectors and their needs, they have unashamedly confessed in the media that Petro is the candidate of their preferences for 2022. For That is why it is difficult for a wide group of public opinion to separate the senator from what said committee does, which has flatly refused to condemn the blockades and urban terrorism. 52 percent of Colombians, according to the SEMANA survey, do not feel represented by that committee.
If something has negatively marked Petro during this strike, it has been the fact that he has been unable to reject, in a forceful and decisive manner, the blockades, vandalism and urban terrorism, as well as the infiltration of the FARC and the dissidents. THE N. In Cali, many do not even want to see it.
He, too, has not been able to condemn the stabbing murder of a police captain in Soacha, at the hands of vandals, and all the violence against hundreds of wounded policemen. He was not heard a single word the day a crowd tried to burn 15 soldiers alive at a CAI in Bogotá. Petro has only insisted on showing one side of the coin, the one that he considers favors him politically. But if there is one thing a leader needs to have, it is the gift of being fair.
The leader of Colombia Humana, in the most recent SEMANA poll, appears with 25 percent of the intention to vote. However, that does not mean that he has already won the presidency, since a remaining 33 percent of the votes are distributed among the other candidates. Likewise, 25 percent refuse to vote for the candidates who are in the race today. That means that, with one year remaining before the elections, Petro is not assured of his triumph, as some of his followers believe. Therefore, it is provocative that he qualifies his videos on social networks as “speeches”, when traditionally the only one who makes speeches is the President of the Republic.
Although the senator and his electors may feel like winners, the figures are not that great, and at any moment a figure may emerge that will destroy him, especially with a sensible speech, without frightening extremisms, and that connects with the majority of Colombians and your demands.
Petro’s arrogance is not working out well for him. This is demonstrated by the slam of the door that he gave to the Duque Government, refusing to talk, even before being formally invited. Other opposition leaders, despite their differences with the president, responded to the call and understood that the country is above all. What is happening, in any case, Petro had already warned in 2018, when he lost in the second round against Duque. On that occasion he announced that the opposition would take place from the streets. Throughout his public career, the leader of Human Colombia has seen in the mobilizations one of his main political tools. Nobody forgets how he filled the Plaza de Bolívar when he was suspended from the Mayor’s Office of Bogotá by the attorney Alejandro Ordóñez, nor his controversial speeches from the balcony of the Liévano Palace.
But although he likes the streets, he has only been seen once at the marches, and it was this week, when he took photos with Camilo Romero, one of his chips in the Alianza Verde. Why did he not accompany the young people in the previous calls? In addition, Petro failed in his call to take a million people to the streets in Bogotá, which shows that people are running out and that perhaps millions are quietly in their homes, without participating in the strike and blockades , and asking that the reforms be processed through institutional channels and in a peaceful manner. The vast majority of Colombians need to work and produce, even understanding that it is urgent that the Government solve structural problems in terms of employment, health, education and security.
In SEMANA’s big electoral study, when asked which one he thinks would be a bad president for Colombia, Petro ranked first with 32 percent. However, he has little or nothing worried about making alliances, because while he talks about union in the Historical Pact, he permanently harasses and insults characters that represent alternative sectors, and who could add votes to him at a given moment, especially the mayor from Bogotá, Claudia López, and the former governor of Antioquia Sergio Fajardo.
As if that were not enough, he has shown some of his ideas in case of arriving at the Casa de Nariño and many of them are worrying because they mean an open war against branches such as the financial sector and certain economic groups. In the same way, it is uncertain what would happen to the Military Forces and the Police, as well as to the fight against drug trafficking and extradition, since he has shown himself willing to review this figure of international cooperation with the United States.
Petro has also had a hard time committing publicly that, if he wins, he will leave power in four years, and on the contrary, he has said that his Human Colombia proposal would need at least three terms. His relationship and that of some of his closest leaders with the media are worrying, due to the open intolerance and violent language they exhibit in the face of criticism, oversight and control. The senator will have to calculate his bet very well to get to the presidency. As Colombians mostly relate it to unemployment, many think that this heated environment is just the preamble to what his government could be.
If Petro wanted to reduce the fear that he continues to arouse in some sectors, what he has done in the midst of the protests is the opposite: increase it. Today he continues to raise the flag of division, hatred and class struggle. And some who were beginning to see it as an alternative could step back and look at other candidates. Petro, in the end, will earn some revenues for the good that he leaves the strike, but he will undoubtedly pay politically for the bad and the ugly of protests and blockades that still do not end.