Colombia: Supporters of socialist President Gustavo Petro violently besiege Supreme Court to force it to elect a government-friendly prosecutor

The magistrates were forced to evacuate the courthouse after hours of harassment.

This Thursday, downtown Bogota became a scene of high tension when protests called by unions supporting socialist President Gustavo Petro led to violent sieges of the Supreme Court of Justice with the intention of forcing the election of a prosecutor aligned with the Colombian government.

The judges, holding an important session to elect the nation’s new attorney general, were abruptly interrupted and forced to evacuate the facilities of the Palace of Justice after several hours of the violent protest that was initially called by the Colombian Federation of Educators (Fecode) and later supported by other unions.

The protesters, who were trying to speed up the election of the new prosecutor, tried to force their way into the courthouse, blocked access to the building, and tried to prevent the magistrates from leaving.

″The blocking by protesters of the doors of the Palace of Justice is unacceptable. The separation of powers and respect for justice is a democratic principle. We cannot confuse the right to peaceful protest with de facto means and violent acts such as preventing the departure of the judges of the Courts and officials of the Palace,” claimed the Conservative Party through its social networks.

The president of the Supreme Court calls for common sense

Gerson Chaverra Castro, president of the Supreme Court, issued an urgent call for common sense and emphasized that, although he defends the legitimate right to peaceful protest, the blockade of protesters is illegal.

“[This situation] puts the lives and integrity of judges, employees, journalists and other occupants of the country’s main judicial headquarters at risk,” he warned.

Finally, Chaverra demanded that Gustavo Petro’s government provide guarantees for the development of its functions without pressure or threats.

Petro calls to defend “the popular vote”

Instead of helping to calm tensions, the president of Colombia published a statement calling to defend the popular vote under the argument of guaranteeing democracy. “I ask the teachers of Colombia, through the force of knowledge, to coordinate the meetings of popular organizations in each municipality to defend democracy and the popular vote,” said Petro in response to a statement from the OAS on the political situation in Colombia.

This was not the only publication of the president on the X platform, where he incited and supported the protests. Throughout the day, Petro made comments through the networks suggesting that demonstrating against "the mafia" is the right thing to do.

The prosecutor's office promises to investigate the violence

The Colombian prosecutor's office issued a statement strongly condemning the violent demonstrations directed against the magistrates."The Attorney General's Office, as an institution of the Judicial Branch of the public power, rejects the acts of violence perpetrated today against the Supreme Court of Justice, as well as the aggressions against public servants, journalists and the infrastructure of the Palace of Justice, headquarters of that high corporation," said the Attorney General's Office.

In addition, the government entity stressed the importance of safeguarding the integrity of the judicial institutions and assured that the pertinent legal measures will be taken "in view of the possible criminal acts that may have been committed."

Supreme Court did not elect a new prosecutor

Despite the violent day, the magistrates carried out a vote that was inconclusive, as none of the candidates managed to get the required votes. "The final result is that none of the candidates, for the moment, obtained the required votes to be declared as the new attorney general, which according to our regulations requires a majority of 16 votes,"  informed the president of the Court.

The next vote is scheduled for Thursday, February 22nd and in the meantime, it will be Deputy Prosecutor Martha Mancera who will assume the position.

"We have a president who is not democratic"

Former senator Carlos Alonso Lucio, expressed his concern about the current political situation in Colombia and suggested that what Petro's government is seeking is an institutional rupture and a violation of the Constitution.

"This is just another symptom of his project, which is to move from the Government to take power; my concern is that he always invents a crisis to justify an act against the Constitution," he expressed.

Furthermore, he warned that this episode is an indicator that the Colombian president "is not democratic and does not respect the Constitution."

U.S. Representative reacts to the situation in Colombia

A Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Michael McCaul, reacted to the events in Colombia through the X account of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and expressed his displeasure with the Biden Administration for what he considers a shameful acceptance of the "corrupt government of Gustavo Petro."

In his remarks, McCaul said: "The Biden administration’s shameful embrace of Gustavo Petro’s corrupt government has only emboldened his attempts to subvert Colombia’s institutions. I stand with the people of Colombia against his efforts to interfere with their Supreme Court."