Peru moves to declare Colombia’s Petro “persona non grata”

Colombia's Gustavo Petro during the VII Summit of CELAC in Buenos Aires. Photo: Presidencia
Colombia's Gustavo Petro during the VII Summit of CELAC in Buenos Aires. Photo: Presidencia

The Peruvian Government of Dina Boluarte is becoming increasingly impatient with Colombian President Gustavo Petro after a series of recent comments – and tweets – in which the leftist leader appears to be meddling in the internal affairs of the South American nation. Petro’s comments since President Pedro Castillo was ousted by Congress, have ranged from referring to the Peruvian leader as a “victim of a fascist coup,” to someone “cornered” politically from his first day in office.

Petro’s vocal support of Castillo has been backed by social media postings in which the Colombian head of state has slammed Peru’s use of force during the civil unrest in Lima, recently stating that this foreign government “marches like Nazis against its own people, breaking the American Convention on Human Rights.”

Comparing the current government of Boluarte to “Nazis” was a diplomatic red line that should not have been crossed. But as customary with a President that is willing to move “red lines” with his total peace agenda, Petro’s remarks have consolidated opposition voices within the neighboring country, prompting former Presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori to warn the Colombian President to “keep your ‘red nose’ out of Peru.” She went on the state that her country will not tolerate “external terrorism.”

The politician’s views were backed by a lengthy editorial in Peru’s El Comercio, in which the newspaper reminds Petro that “the restoration of order by the State, legitimately headed by President Dina Boluarte, cannot constitute an outrage similar to those perpetrated by the troops of the dictator Adolf Hitler in Germany in the first half of the 20th Century.” The newspaper also affirms that the supposed “cornering” of Castillo by Congress, “consisted of exposing his permanent ties with corruption.” Castillo was replaced by Boluarte after he attempted to dissolve the legislature to evade an impeachment trial.

From Petro’s meddling during the VII Summit of Latin American and Caribbean Leaders (CELAC), in which he affirmed that “Castillo should be sitting at this table (in Buenos Aires),” to repeated claims that Castillo was “imprisoned illegally,” on Tuesday, the Foreign Relations Committee of the Peruvian Congress presented a motion to declare the Colombian President “persona non grata.”

Petro’s historical revisionism has transcended international boundaries, and on Thursday, the Peruvian Government moved closer to severing diplomatic ties with Colombia. All leading politicians, however, made clear that the status of a “persona non grata” does not extend to the Colombian people. As a “persona non grata” Petro could be barred from entering Peru.

Colombia shares 1,600 km of border with Peru in the Amazon.

El Comercio, in its editorial, highlighted that the former president (Castillo) is serving 18 months in pretrial detention for alleged crimes of rebellion, abuse of authority and disturbance of public peace. “Is it ‘Nazi’ to exercise authority that the Constitution confers on the Government against vandal groups that block, destroy and burn public and private property? What would have been democratic?” reads El Comercio.

The direct rebuke of the Colombian leader by Peru’s leading newspaper recalls a recent episode in this country’s history when Petro, as Senator, justified mass mobilizations against the government of President Iván Duque. The ensuing National Strike – Paro Nacional – promoted by the future candidate – resulted in widespread human rights abuses against civilians, medical missions and members of Colombia’s security forces.