Colombia is currently in the midst of a severe institutional crisis that features the president, Gustavo Petro, in the limelight. After pressure from the president, the country's attorney general, Francisco Barbosa, has decided to take his family into exile. The fact was criticized by society in general and even by the Supreme Court of Justice president.
The situation has developed through several exchanges: Barbosa first criticized Petro, even calling him a "dictator," after the leader allegedly risked the life of deputy prosecutor Daniel Hernandez. Not content with this, the attorney general accused him of attacking "the Constitution, the Judicial Branch and the division of powers."
Petro did not stand idly by and responded to the official during a visit to Spain. "(Barbosa) forgets one thing that the Constitution commands him: I am the head of state, therefore, the head of him." His statement blatantly ignored Article 249 of the 1991 Constitution, which states that the Prosecutor's Office "is part of the judicial branch and shall have administrative and budgetary autonomy."
Faced with pressure from the president, the attorney general decided to have his family leave the country. He announced his decision at a public event stating that the president "urges me to tell him that I have to breach my constitutional obligations and obey him," and "since I am not going to do it because I have no hierarchical superior in this country, I imagine that I will have consequences against my life and I hold Gustavo Petro responsible for what may happen."
He also confirmed that his family will leave the country "in the next few days [...] for fear that they will be murdered." Barbosa added that "this is not a game that can be taken lightly, Gustavo Petro is not an opposition leader, he is the head of state."
The Supreme Court's response
Fernando Castillo Cadena, president of the Colombian supreme court, defended Barbosa and took direct aim at the president. As he explained, the Attorney General "has no hierarchical superior" and is "an official whose mission is clearly regulated by the legal order and framed within the independence of the judiciary."
"Disregarding or misinterpreting the foundations of our rule of law creates uncertainty, fragmentation and institutional instability," the magistrate concluded.
Attorney General Francisco Barbosa denounced that a tweet by President Gustavo Petro put the safety of the family of prosecutor Daniel Hernandez at risk.
#Atención El fiscal general Francisco Barbosa denunció que un trino del presidente Gustavo Petro puso en riesgo la seguridad de la familia del fiscal Daniel Hernández.
— BluRadio Colombia (@BluRadioCo) May 4, 2023