Colombia’s first leftist president Gustavo Petro sounded the alarms about a brewing coup plot against him. He told participants during an event in Sucre at which land was turned over to dispossessed peasants, “For the first time there is a president that, instead of trying to take the land away from peasants to keep it or give it to his friends, he is trying to give the land back. And now some former colonel says that this deserves a coup d’état… these coups are resisted and overcome through the mobilization of citizens.”
Petro was referring to statements made on May 11 by retired Army Colonel John Marulanda during a debate on La W radio. Marulanda said that the mobilization of retired members of the military is a sign that Colombia is “following the steps of Peru” wherein “the reserve forces were successfully able to defenestrate a corrupt president.” He added, “Here we will do our best to defenestrate someone who was a guerrilla fighter.”
On Wednesday, May 10, around 3,000 retired members of the Armed Forces mobilized in the Plaza Bolívar against Petro’s government. The retired members particularly take issue with Petro’s plan for “Total Peace,” in which the government has engaged in peace talks and negotiations with numerous armed groups and established several bilateral ceasefires. Retired army personnel also criticized progressive reforms promoted by Petro and members of the Historic Pact, such as the health care reform and labor reform. Many in the mobilization demanded “Out Petro!” and particularly opposed him for being a former member of a guerrilla group. In this context, Marulanda’s words have sparked concerns of a coup plot against Petro.