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ON SUNDAY, August 7, the socialist and former guerrilla Gustavo Petro (who won Colombia’s latest presidential election through pacts with extreme left-wing groups, guerrillas, criminals, and the traditional political machinery of that country) will be officially sworn in. In an interview for a local radio station, U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) expressed his concern for the stability of democracy in the South American country and the rest of the region under a Petro government.
Speaking to reporters from La FM, Scott said he was “very concerned” about the future of Colombia, which is “one of the strongest democracies in Latin America” and one of the countries with which the United States maintains the strongest bilateral relations.
“Gustavo Petro is a far-left socialist who was part of the M-19 terrorist group in Colombia,” Scott told reporters. “We see dictators, terrorists and drug cartels in the region celebrating his victory and his inauguration. Now, more than ever, the United States must stand firm in the face of attacks on the region’s democracies and threats to national security.”
What does Rick Scott expect from Petro’s government?
When one of the speakers asked the U.S. senator about the support that President Joe Biden has given to Petro, Scott pointed out that the U.S. president “does not care about the struggle for democracy” of the countries of the hemisphere and that, instead of defending the values of freedom, he has chosen the “appeasement” of terrorist groups.
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“Biden completely abandoned freedom fighters in Latin America,” said a blunt Scott. “Time and time again, when Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua most needed U.S. support, Biden chose appeasement over freedom, security and stability in our hemisphere.”
The senator gave as an example the Biden administration’s removal of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), drug traffickers responsible for violent attacks and gross human rights violations in the region, from the State Department’s list of Terrorist Organizations.
“Where is Joe Biden’s support for Colombia?” the lawmaker asked. “Instead of fighting for peace and stability in our hemisphere, Biden removed the FARC from the list of Terrorist Organizations. That’s terrible! Especially, during Colombia’s presidential campaign.”
In that regard, Scott points out some red lines that Petro’s administration must not cross if it expects the U.S. to continue to collaborate economically and security-wise with Colombia.
“I think we have to look at the wheel if we’re going to continue to help Colombia. the senator said regarding how Petro will govern after the inauguration. “Why would we give money to the government of Colombia if they’re not going to do the things we care about? We don’t want more drugs, we don’t want Petro to eliminate freedom and democracy and liberty, we don’t want Petro to help Maduro and the Cuban regime and Ortega. If he does, then we say: why are we helping you? Why would you have a free trade agreement with the United States? We don’t want to do that with countries that don’t believe in freedom and liberty.”
So Scott thinks that relations between the two countries will depend on Petro’s actions: “Is he going to stand up to the narco traffickers? Is he going to stand up for freedom? Is he going to try to change the Constitution to take away the power of the people? Is he going to get a Supreme Court that’s not going to allow freedom and democracy? Is he going to put his opponents in prison? If he does, come on, we’re not going to help them. I’m going to make sure that Americans’ tax dollars are not spent doing those things.”
Although the senator “wants to believe” that Petro will defend democracy, respect constitutional limits and will not seek to enable a re-election, he thinks that the ex-guerrilla’s relations with terrorists, dictators, drug traffickers and left-wing extremists are a problem. “We will see,” he concluded.
Editor’s Note: The quotes attributed to Sen. Rick Scott have been translated from Spanish to English.
Tomás Lugo, journalist and writer. Born in Venezuela and graduated in Social Communication. Has written for international media outlets. Currently living in Colombia // Tomás Lugo, periodista y articulista. Nacido en Venezuela y graduado en Comunicación Social. Ha escrito para medios internacionales. Actualmente reside en Colombia.