Tell Secretary Blinken to respect Colombia’s elections!
CODEPINK’s Teri Mattson arrived in Colombia on May 22 to observe the May 29 elections at the invitation of a prestigious human rights organization. She was denied entry and deported to the U.S. She’s not the only international electoral observer to be banned. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The left-wing ticket of Gustavo Petro and Francia Marquez is leading the polls, but they received death threats and were forced to campaign behind shields, as seen in the picture. The Army Chief accused Petro of being corrupt - despite being constitutionally bound to maintain neutrality in politics. The Duque government and State Department baselessly claimed that Russia is somehow interfering in the elections. Let’s be clear, if opposition candidates were threatened in Venezuela, there would be daily articles and State Department press releases about it, if not sanctions and threats.
So far this year, 79 social leaders have been murdered in Colombia. Petro and Marquez are at serious risk of assassination and that risk is likely to increase should they win.
Instead of raising concerns about these threats, the U.S. named Colombia a major-non NATO ally - the timing of which could be considered electoral interference. Furthermore, the U.S. is contributing to the climate of insecurity by suggesting that Russia is interfering in the elections through a disinformation campaign. There’s no evidence for this and the usual scapegoat for these claims, media outlet RT, doesn’t even have a presence in Colombia. The U.S. is setting the stage for the right-wing to claim fraud should Petro win.
The first round of elections is on May 29 and unless someone takes 50% (a possibility for the Petro-Marquez ticket, according to latest polls), there will be a runoff election on June 19. We’ve got to keep the pressure up on the State Department between now and then, to help ensure the results are respected. And this time we’re not alone, Secretary Blinken received a letter this week from 24 members of Congress who made similar demands. To learn more about the situation, tune in to this week’s episode of WTF is Going on in Latin America & the Caribbean, airing on May 26 at 7:30 pm ET on the CODEPINK YouTube channel.
In radical solidarity,
Teri, Leonardo, Michelle, Medea and the entire CODEPINK team
P.S. Join us this summer in Los Angeles for the People’s Summit for Democracy! This alternative to the 9th Summit of the Americas will host three days of panels, music, mobilizations and workshops to uplift the voices of the people and imagine a new world. Click here for more information!