Colombia: military protests against Gustavo Petro

Several hundred reserves and veterans of the Colombian Armed Forces gathered in Bogota to protest the leftist government's reforms.

Military reserves and veterans alike sent a strong message to Colombian President Gustavo Petro. On Wednesday, current and former military members gathered by the hundreds in the central Bolivar Square in Bogota to protest against the Colombian president's reforms. Petro is considering eliminating compulsory military service.

The members of the reserve said that Petro's leftist government is attacking the values of the Colombian Armed Forces. The soldiers sang patriotic songs and waved national flags during their march in front of the National Capitol and the Colombian Palace of Justice. One of the organizers of the march was reserve General Eduardo Zapateiro. This protest shows that many military personnel directly link Gustavo Petro to the FARC guerrilla insurgency, which has been fighting the Colombian Army for years.

Complaints also targeted Colombian Defense Minister Iván Velázquez. A recent reform implemented at the beginning of 2023 dismissed some 900 military personnel from the Armed Forces. According to local media reports, many of these ex-members of the military were present at the demonstration.

The military march was all over social media, including several videos posted on Twitter. They showed images of a group of protesters who climbed on the statue of Simon Bolivar, a Colombian national hero, to remove several flags of groups related to President Petro and drape the Colombian national flag over his shoulders.

Some of the flags that were removed by the military belonged to left-wing groups and the Guardia Indígena. This is an indigenous collective that claims to be the guardian of native traditions in Colombia, with a quasi-paramilitary organization that has control over some remote areas of the country where state forces are not present.

Representatives of the Indigenous Guard, 90,000 strong according to a coordinator of the collective, met this week with President Petro to participate in discussions on the Colombian government's development plan and road map.