Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro has denounced the ouster of Peru’s President Pedro Castillo as a “parliamentary coup.”
Petro said the coup in Peru is a warning for all democratically elected left-wing leaders in Latin America.
Pointing to recent coups against left-wing governments, Petro recalled, “It happened in Paraguay [in 2012]; it happened in Honduras [in 2009]; it happened in Brazil [in 2016]. Imagine that! When they took out Dilma Rousseff. It happened in Bolivia [in 2019], with some deaths,”
“The message is clear: What they can’t win at the ballot box, they are trying to overthrow,” the Colombian president cautioned. He added, “That is what happened with [Salvador] Allende [in Chile in 1973].”
Petro argued Castillo was ousted because he represented the humble indigenous-descent majority of the country, who have not been represented by the political system.
“They overthrew him, among other reasons, because he is from the Andes, because he is poor,” he said.
Petro made these comments in an interview with Semana, a major media outlet that is closely associated with Colombia’s right wing. The interview was conducted by Semana’s director, Vicky Dávila, who is well known for her conservative sympathies.
Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro names some of the recent coups against democratically elected left-wing leaders in Latin America:
-Honduras in 2009
-Paraguay in 2012
-Brazil in 2016
-Bolivia in 2019
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) December 19, 2022
GUSTAVO PETRO: [In Peru] there is an emergency, with protests, above all in the Andes mountains, which is who voted for him [President Pedro Castillo].
Because, for a long time, Peru has had a social fracture between what Lima is, and what the Andes is, with very different political processes.
But here, that President (Castillo), elected by the people, is from the Andes.
And they overthrow him, among other reasons, because he is from the Andes, because he is poor.
You have a president who was elected by the people, who tries to use an article (134) of their constitution, which, yes, allows the closure of the congress. We don’t have that, but they do.
VICKY DÁVILA: But what happened is there were the circumstances, just let me say this to you, there was the circumstance in which they were about to order [presidential] vacancy.
GUSTAVO PETRO: Vacancy, which is a parliamentary coup. Vacancy means you leave —
VICKY DÁVILA: So he is a victim, Mr. President? You feel that way?
GUSTAVO PETRO: Yes, I feel that way.
VICKY DÁVILA: That statement has led to criticisms of you. You know that?
GUSTAVO PETRO: Yes, but —
VICKY DÁVILA: And you don’t care?
GUSTAVO PETRO: I can’t – tell me something, that they [Peru’s coup government] are killing people, because we’re talking about what had happened in Colombia, but it’s happening there.
There are deaths, [and many more since], a state of emergency, a president elected by the people who was not sentenced by any judge, and his own security and police capture him, and they imprison him.
Where was the legal sentence by a judge?
VICKY DÁVILA: But the IACHR [Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an arm of the OAS] did not protect him.
GUSTAVO PETRO: Well, is the CIDH being consistent today with the American Convention [on Human Rights]? Or is it in a political game, involving the OAS?
Because if left-wing governments keep winning [elections], the OAS [Organization of American States] has to change. And what mechanism is easier for overthrowing left-wing governments? Which were legitimately elected by the people.
VICKY DÁVILA: Do you think that what is happening to Castillo is a warning for other left-wing governments?
GUSTAVO PETRO: For all of them.
VICKY DÁVILA: And that includes you?
GUSTAVO PETRO: Yes, all of them.
VICKY DÁVILA: You think that could happen to you? Could they try to do it against you?
GUSTAVO PETRO: It happened in Paraguay [in 2012]; it happened in Honduras [in 2009]; it happened in Brazil [in 2016]. Imagine that! When they took out Dilma Rousseff. It happened in Bolivia [in 2019], with some deaths. Among other cases, the ones which I remember.
The message is clear: What they can’t win at the ballot box, they are trying to overthrow. … That is what happened with [Salvador] Allende [in Chile in 1973].
When they overthrow Allende, who is a president who is elected by the people, when they overthrow him by force, what followed in Latin America? Dictatorships followed. Millions of people exiled, revolutionary wars, of which I was a child, in Central America, in Colombia.
The democratic pact was broken. There was nothing but violence.
Now years have passed, now once again the people are electing their leaders, for better or for worse, but it is the people electing their leaders.
Whey are they overthrowing them? Because the Latin American oligarchy doesn’t want progressivism? So win the elections then! Don’t overthrow presidents by force.
Because all this is doing is leading to levels of violence that can be very serious, if we are not able to respond. You are already seeing it.