The top Latin America advisor for U.S. President Joe Biden, Juan Sebastián González, threateningly said of Colombia’s new left-wing president:
40 years ago, the United States would have done everything possible to prevent the election of Gustavo Petro, and once in power it would have done almost everything possible to sabotage his government.
González is the Western hemisphere director for the U.S. National Security Council (NSC). He previously worked in the State Department and NSC in the Barack Obama administration.
González made these incendiary comments in Spanish in an interview with the Colombian media.
Obliquely acknowledging the long history of U.S. meddling in Latin America’s sovereign internal affairs, González added,
Those are the policies of the Cold War, that to a certain point today for some people are a justification from revisionist perspectives that characterize the policy of the United States in the context of a local manifestation of an empire.
Petro is Colombia’s first ever left-wing president. He is a former revolutionary with socialist armed movement M-19, which signed a peace treaty and demilitarized. Petro subsequently established himself as a lawmaker and became mayor of the capital Bogotá.
Although he ran a center-left campaign harshly condemning the socialist governments in Venezuela and Nicaragua, Petro has tempered his criticism since entering office.
In the first vote by Petro’s administration at the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States (OAS) on August 12, Colombia refused to join in the politically motivated condemnation of Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government. Colombia was absent from the vote, alongside the governments of Mexico, Bolivia, Honduras, and El Salvador, which abstained.
Petro has also rapidly pursued the normalization of relations between Colombia and its neighbor Venezuela.
Just a few days after winning the election in June, then President-elect Petro held a phone call with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, discussing plans to reopen the border and establish peace.
The president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Jorge Rodríguez, announced on August 16 that the parliamentary body was coordinating with Colombia’s Senate in order to re-establish formal commercial and diplomatic relations.
Petro was inaugurated on August 7. The ceremony was full of important political symbolism. Petro requested that the sword of anti-colonialist leader Simón Bolívar be present.
At his inauguration, Colombia's new (first ever) left-wing President Gustavo Petro was given the sash by the daughter of Carlos Pizarro, the martyred leader of the socialist, anti-imperialist M-19 movement Petro was part of in his youth
— Benjamin Norton (@BenjaminNorton) August 16, 2022
At the inauguration, Petro was also given the presidential sash by María José Pizarro, a lawmaker from Petro’s left-wing Pacto Histórico party and the daughter of Carlos Pizarro.
Carlos Pizarro was the leader of the revolutionary socialist 19th of April Movement (M-19) that Petro had been involved in in his youth.
The M-19 demilitarized in 1990 after signing a peace agreement with the Colombian government. Having put down its weapons, M-19 became a legal political party, and Carlos Pizarro was its presidential candidate.
But just a few weeks after signing the peace deal, the Colombian state murdered Carlos Pizarro, in an operation organized by the feared Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad (DAS), a notorious intelligence agency that acted as a kind of secret police.