Colombia’s Petro accuses AG Barbosa of “institutional coup”

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President Petro and VP Francia Márquez during the pro-reforms rally in Bogotá Photo: Presidencia

BOGOTÁ – Colombian President Gustavo Petro has ignited heightened political tension in the country with a forceful response to a “fake” account on the social media platform known as “X,” purportedly belonging to Attorney General Francisco Barbosa. The President alleges that Barbosa is orchestrating an “institutional coup” to oust him from power. In a social media statement conveying a strong sense of victimization and persecution, Petro accused the Attorney General of leading a “mafia takeover” of the Fiscalía, and forcefully declared that “a progressive president cannot be overthrown.”

The Attorney General’s Office clarified that Barbosa does not have a personal account on “X” and that all official statements from the Fiscalía are released in print.

President Petro, rallying to his entrenched political base, called for street mobilizations and urged international organizations to oversee potential irregularities regarding his campaign breaking finance thresholds. Amid ongoing investigations by the Attorney General Barbosa, into alleged irregularities in Petro’s 2022 campaign, the President’s statements are a direct affront to the country’s Constitution. Under the Constitution the only entity that can formally open and charge a President is Congress, based on evidence provided by the Fiscalía.

“A progressive president, the first in a century, cannot be overthrown because legally a workers’ union contributed to a left-wing party,” Petro declared on “X,” expressing his dissatisfaction with the ongoing AG investigations. Referencing the investigation at the Colombian Federation of Educators (Fecode) headquarters, where documents revealed an undeclared contribution of COP$500 million (US$125,000), Petro characterized this as a move toward “institutional rupture” between the Executive and Judiciary. According to the Colombian constitution, Petro could be stripped from the presidency should evidence prove that he broke campaign finance rules and received donations from drug traffickers.

Petro also asserted that, as the President of the Republic it is “my duty to inform the world” about the alleged “mafia takeover.” His effusive “X” statement was published in several languages, including French, Italian and Arabic. Making extreme allegations, Petro also claimed that drug traffickers and “perpetrators of crimes against humanity” are conspiring to overthrow his presidency. In a provocative statement, Petro suggested that due to the investigation into illegal campaign financing, “unions have been raided and witnesses have been tortured.”

Accusing the Fiscalía of leading an “institutional coup,” Petro then went on to blame Barbosa for opening up criminal charges against key figures in his 2022 campaign, including Ricardo Roa, President of Ecopetrol and former campaign manager, and Dagoberto Quiroga, superintendent of Public Services and former president of the Colombia Humana party. In response to the deepening crisis surrounding his mandate, Petro warned the United States and United Nations Security Council to remain vigilant regarding political persecution and threats against his embattled government.