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Petro’s Second Blow to the Military

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AT THE José María Córdoba Military Cadet School, the main one in Colombia, there was uneasiness among the attendees on August 16th. President Gustavo Petro did not arrive at the traditional “Troop Recognition Ceremony” scheduled for five o’clock in the afternoon.

After hours of waiting, it was reported that the Head of State would not arrive at the meeting because “he was attending urgent private government meetings.” So the troops remained dressed and formed up. A snub to the Military Forces that no other president had dared to commit in the past.

This was Petro’s second blow to the military after a few days of assuming the presidency. The first one had been to retire 52 generals of all forces to appoint a leadership more aligned with his vision of the country.

Even before taking office, Petro surprised the military world by appointing as Minister of Defense a notorious enemy of the armed forces, the former assistant judge of the Colombian Supreme Court, Iván Velásquez

Petro has made no secret of his intentions to transform the Armed Forces into an organization for peace and not for war. This means, in a few words, first, to stop pursuing terrorist groups, and second, to put an end to the fight against drug trafficking.

As he works toward his first goal, the president issued a decree to “suspend arrest and extradition orders for members of the ELN.” And in regards to his second goal, the Puebla Group —to which Petro belongs— published this Saturday an article in The Guardian, written by Senator María José Pizarro, leader of the Historical Pact, in which she states that “the war against drugs” must end as soon as possible.

This should not surprise us at all since during the electoral campaign, the now president openly and publicly proposed the legalization of crops, the legalization of consumption, and the prohibition of the use of glyphosate to fumigate cocaine plantations. This is why former president Andrés Pastrana has always referred to Petro as the “Trojan horse of drug trafficking.”

Now, to achieve these two goals, Petro must change the mission and the concept of the Colombian Armed Forces to turn them into an organization at the service of his interests, just as Chavez did in Venezuela.

However, there are differences between the two. The first is that Chavez came from the military world, while Petro comes from the guerrilla. The second is that the Venezuelan Armed Forces had not fought a single combat in decades, while the Colombian Military Forces have been fighting subversion for 60 years. In any case, Petro will do his best to achieve his purposes, even if he must corrupt the officers, as Chavez did in Venezuela.

Petro is well aware that the only loose end he has left to control is the military, since the political parties have already given in to his project —using corruption as bait, which in Colombia is called “mermelada” (jam). This while business leaders will be easily dispatched with the tax reform that is being approved, which will greatly weaken the economy’s private sector.

Two days after letting the cadets down, Senator Roy Barreras —Petro’s ally— tweeted to make it appear that the Colombian president is a beloved person in the military world. Still, appearances are just that, appearances, and they are always deceiving.

Nitu Pérez Osuna es una reconocida periodista venezolana en el exilio. Por muchos años fue una de las caras principales del canal de noticias más importante de su país, hasta que fue vendido a aliados de la dictadura chavista, por lo que fue despedida. Nitu Pérez Osuna es perseguida política de Nicolás Maduro y se ha dedicado a denunciar, no solo a la dictadura de su país, sino a los regímenes socialistas de todo el continente.

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