Gustavo Petro Bogota Colombia

Bogota’s Mayor Gustavo Petro presented a letter to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights on Monday, bringing a lawsuit against the Colombian government for alleged inhumane treatment and political rights violations.

The embattled mayor called on the Commission to issue an order that would drop a disciplinary process being leveled against Petro by Colombia’s Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez for alleged “irregularities” during a problematic municipalization of the trash service in the nation’s capital at the end of last year.

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If the Inspector General’s Office rules that the mayor was guilty of misconduct for “failures” during the trash collection botch-up due to “a lack of planning,” Petro could face dismissal from office.

Petro argued in the lawsuit papers that Ordoñez “exercised discriminatory treatment” in the misconduct investigation.

“The current Inspector General Alejandro Ordeñoz is known for his intolerance based on extreme religious convictions,” said Petro, highlighting Ordeñez’s controversial political positions and rulings, such as absolving members of Congress convicted by the Constitutional Court of having ties with paramilitary groups, and bringing a constitutional challenge against the first same-sex marriage in Colombia.

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As proof of the Inspector General’s conservative Catholic bias, Petro referenced a recently published manuscript of a young Ordeñez’s graduate thesis, where he begged the Virgin Mary for the “restoration of the Christian order” and to “crush atheist communism” so that Catholicism would “shine from everywhere.”

By taking leftist political positions, such as promoting establishment of centers that would distribute marijuana to recovering drug addicts, and positions in support of gay marriage and abortion, Gustavo argued that he had incurred the political wrath of the Inspector General, who, according to Petro, rejected the mayor’s liberal agenda and wished to remove him from power in Bogota.

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The report also cited an assessment from the Justice Minister Alfonso Gomez warning against the precedent being set by the Inspector General’s challenge to Petro: “The disciplinary routes cannot be a constitutional road through which officials can dismiss publicly elected figures… that creates a type of ‘Superman’ who can dismantle the Congress or leave regions without mayors or governors.”

In 2008, Petro sided with conservative opposition in the Senate to elect Ordoñez to head the Inspector General’s Office. Despite fierce criticism at the time, he said that Ordeñez’s extreme religious beliefs were not grounds for discrimination.

Petro is a former member of urban guerrilla group M-19 who became a politician. He has received praise from abroad for his social justice and urban environmental policies. However, in the nation’s capital the mayor has low approval ratings.

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