Well, who’d of thunk it? Looks like the capital of Colombia has a cool new (progressive) mayor!
Gustavo Petro was sworn in as mayor of Bogotá and presented his plan for the city for the coming years. He explained that his decree prohibiting the bearing of arms will be permanent.
“We will not prohibit the ownership of firearms, which the law authorizes. What will not be permitted is the bearing of weapons in discotheques, buses and bars, so that people end up killing each other. We want Bogotá to be a weapons-free space,” said Petro.
The police commander of Bogotá, Luis Eduardo Martínez, will begin to apply the measure immediately.
“It’s one thing to own [guns], and another to carry. I hope the police force stands behind me on this once the decree is expedited. In a few months we’ll evaluate it statistically,” said Petro in his hour-long speech.
Petro, a 51-year-old economist, was a member of the nationalist M-19 insurgency, which disbanded in 1990. In 1991 he participated in the Constituent Assembly, which edited the current constitution of Colombia, and since then has been a parliamentarian on several occasions.
His triumph in winning the second-most-important popular election in Colombia occurs 20 years after the assassination of M-19 leader Carlos Pizarro, who was campaigning in the presidential election. This is the first time an ex-insurgent has risen to a post of such importance in Colombia, where the FARC and ELN guerrillas are still active.
Gustavo Petro, you may recall, was a Colombian senator last time his name appeared here. Then, he and fellow progressive senator Piedad Córdoba helped Chavecito negotiate with the FARC for the release of several hostages, among them Ingrid Betancourt, a cause célèbre in both Colombia and France. The success of those peace talks freaked out El Narco (and no doubt his gringo handlers as well), who promptly put the kibosh to everything and drove Sen. Córdoba out of office, alleging that she had guerrilla ties. It was all a lie, of course — the only tie Piedad Córdoba maintains with the FARC is her willingness to talk with them and intercede on behalf of their political prisoners!
But back to Gustavo Petro. It’s really cool to see him take charge in Bogotá, and his anti-guncrime decree is precisely what’s needed in that city, where drug-gang wars are all too much a fact of everyday life. I have no doubt that when the stats roll in, Bogotá’s legendary high murder rates will show a marked drop. And people will be looking at leftist ex-guerrillas in a whole new light.
Qué todo va bien, alcalde. Feliz año nuevo, qué viene la paz.