President Iván Duque has ordered the Colombian military to clear all illegal road blockades as strike action completes three weeks. During the announcement on Monday evening, Duque called on the nation’s security forces to deploy “maximum operational capacity,” while respecting the right to peaceful protest and human rights. Duque also added that on-going roadblocks have affected the mobility of millions of citizens, as well as food circulation and distribution. “This type of practice is illegal and censored in the penal code,” he added.
Duque’s announcement was swiftly met with scorn from the left-wing opposition leader and Senator Gustavo Petro, taking to Twitter stating: “You, Duque, have given the order for killing.”
This comment posted to 4.2 million followers was accompanied by another in which Petro states: “World leaders, Colombians are being assassinated. We are under a dictatorship.”
While the majority of Colombians who voted for Duque in the 2018 elections consider Petro’s social media feed as confrontational, incendiary, even treasonous, on Tuesday, the caustic and most vocal supporter of the national strike insinuated to Bogotá Mayor Claudia López that “a coup is coming,” after she claimed that “youngsters and citizens cannot be held prisoners of the electoral opportunism of Petro and Uribe.”
Petro’s affirmation that a “coup” is in the works transcends all rationale given that a coup d’etat requires the backing of the Armed Forces, and impossible scenario as President Iván Duque is the Commander-in-Chief with a democratically-elected mandate protected under the Constitution.
The mere mention of the word, however, shows the lengths to which dangerous diction by left-wing demagogues preys on the economic anxiety of Colombians and exacerbated by personal tragedies caused by the coronavirus pandemic. And despite the country averaging above 500 deaths per day from the disease, Petro is rallying “millions to the streets” on Wednesday in another round of anti-government protests and general strike action as talks between the national government and Strike Committee aim to defuse social tensions.
On Tuesday, Colombia registered 13,137 additional cases of coronavirus and 482 fatalities, raising to death toll to 82,291.