Mayor Today, Gone Tomorrow?

By bogotapost April 25, 2014
Gustavo Petro, Petro Impeachment, Bogota Mayor

Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro. Photo: Alcaldía- Ignacio Prieto

In yet another twist in the long-running saga, ousted mayor Gustavo Petro has been reinstated.

On Tuesday April 22, the Supreme Court of Bogotá ruled that the state must reappoint Petro within 48 hours.

The decision was based on a ruling on March 19 from the  Inter American Commission on Human Rights saying that the mayor’s dismissal violated his human rights and requesting that he be immediately returned to his post.

President Santos rejected the ruling at the time but he signed a decree ordering Petro’s immediate reinstatement on Wednesday April 23 and stated, ““My obligation, as president of the republic, is to follow the law and what justice decides.”

The Petro saga began when the mayor was dismissed from his position in December by the Inspector General, who oversees all Colombian officials and only answers to the President. The reasons given for his  dismissal were misdemeanours including the mishandling of the city’s rubbish collection.

The ensuing scandal saw protests from Petro supporters and the promise of a vote on March 2 to decide if he would be reinstated, which was later delayed to April 6 and then withdrawn.

The dismissal of Petro was then formally ratified by the President on March 19 and Labour Minister Rafael Pardo named interim mayor.

President Santos subsequently announced on March 21 that María Mercedes Maldonado was to be the new mayor of Bogotá until elections were held for the position later in the year. As it stands, Ms Maldonado will only have served four days before Petro takes office again.

Geraldkurt, Political Analyst at website, believes the appointment of Maldonado for such a short time period “responded to a political calculation that could be due to the imminence of this verdict [the reinstatement of Petro].”

Despite the apparent resolution of a case that has dragged on for months, the analyst doesn’t believe this is the end of the road.

Geraldkurt said he doesn’t think the saga will end with a legal fight “now that a challenge on the Attorney General’s part is almost obvious and expected.

Furthermore, the decision to award this writ is in the hands of the Supreme Court of Justice.”

However, he added that “the State Council falls short of granting precautionary measures to Gustavo Petro and failed on the invalidity appeal and re-establishment of law, presented by their lawyers.”

He dismissed the possibility of atypical elections, due to lack of time, and said that what this means is that “In other words, everything will return to the same situation as it was in January.”

Petro himself took a more optimistic view, saying “This time the High Court of Bogotá is protecting political rights, which are human rights of Bogotá’s citizens, of Bogotá and of myself.”

He marched into the Mayor’s office on the evening of Wednesday April 24 to retake his post, surrounded by crowds of supporters, journalists and security guards.

By Steven Grattan & Charlotte Ryan