His was going to be the Government of change in Colombia, but for now it seems more like one of paralysis and scandals. Nearly a year after reaching power and becoming the first leftist president of the South American country, Gustavo Petro He sees his big bets get bogged down in Congress and his government founder in controversy and infighting.
The last, the one carried out by his most faithful allies, embroiled in a public dispute while the president attended a summit of South American leaders in Brazil.
This is your chief of staff, Laura Sarabiaand its ambassador in Venezuela, Armando Benedetti, one of its main supporters years ago. Sarabia and Benedetti had already had their differences over the advice that one and the other gave the president, but things got completely muddy this week. Benedetti accused Sarabia of hiding a large amount of money in her house and having subjected her family’s nanny to intolerable pressure for suspecting that she had stolen $7,000 from him.
The nanny, who since Saturday has been the protagonist of all the Colombian news, had been subjected to a polygraph test against her will and yesterday the scandal broke that her phone had been tapped by the Police Criminal Investigation Department. the attorney general, Francisco Barbosaassured that the nanny and another domestic worker had been spied on by “a Colombian Gestapo” made up of police officers who passed them off as members of the Clan del Golfo, a dangerous criminal group, to justify the wiretapping.
The open war between his two closest collaborators has become a most uncomfortable problem for Petro, who had to ask Benedetti to refrain from further stoking the fire on social networks. Benedetti has been one of Petro’s loyalists for years and the president sent him as ambassador to Caracas with the difficult and strategic mission of reestablishing relations with the regime of Nicolas Maduro, broken for years. And Sarabia, the head of his team, the most trusted woman in charge of maintaining internal cohesion and coherence in government messages.
Finally, and despite their closeness, the Colombian president has had no choice but to strike them down.
“While the investigation is being carried out, my dear and esteemed official and the Venezuelan ambassador are withdrawing from the Government so that from the power that these charges imply, they cannot even have the distrust that the investigation processes are going to be altered,” Petro said. at a military promotion ceremony in Bogotá, in statements collected by EFE.
“I have complete peace of mind that I have acted correctly, with integrity and without any particular interest,” Sarabia wrote in a statement posted on social networks. The former chief of staff assures that she is ready to give “all the explanations necessary to clarify the facts, and I will fight hard to defend my reputation.”
Prosecutor Barbosa, elected at the time of the Government of Ivan Dukeand a de facto opponent of Petro, has already announced an investigation and that he will call all the protagonists of this funny story to testify.
And it is not the only open front for Petro. The ex-guerrilla and ex-mayor of Bogotá had made the reform of the health system and pensions his main banner, these were the promises with which he tried to seduce a large part of the electorate in a country traditionally traversed by inequality, but neither one nor the other. another has managed to thrive in a Congress that the president has never been able to control and in which things seem increasingly difficult for him.
More after the senator’s disqualification Roy Barreras by the Council of State, a high Colombian court that ruled that this key politician for Petro had simultaneously been active in two parties. Barreras, a seasoned and veteran politician known for his ability to weave the most unexpected loyalties, was the man Petro trusted to achieve the parliamentary majorities that his legislative initiatives require. Without him, everything will be even more difficult.
Barreras’ disqualification was not the first judicial setback for Petro, which has seen some key appointments annulled because judges concluded that due process had not been followed. The president assures that the judiciary is promoting a “soft coup” against him and has announced demonstrations that he himself will lead to stop it.
Petro declares himself convinced that there are factual powers determined at all costs to make his government fail. But there are mistakes for which he can blame no one but himself. One of the most recent and flagrant was the tweet published by the May 19, reporting that the four missing indigenous children had been found alive after the plane crashed in which they were traveling in the jungle department of Caquetá. The case has the country in suspense and the presidential announcement caused a momentary relief, but then it turned out that the minors had not yet been found and Petro had to apologize for giving unconfirmed information on such a sensitive issue. The children are still being searched for day and night.