The victory of Gustavo Petro in Colombia and his inauguration as President of the New Granada nation has set off alarms in the United States, where the possible end of the so-called “Washington influence” in Latin America is seen.
“It is time for a new international convention that accepts that the war on drugs has utterly failed, that it has left a million Latin Americans murdered, most of them Colombians, and that it leaves 70.000 North Americans dead from drug overdoses every year; none produced in Latin America”.
These words spoken by Petro During his inauguration speech this Sunday, he directly questions US policy in the neighboring country with the so-called “Plan Colombia”, which could mean the possibility of ending this agreement that has allowed the US to install no less than nine military bases in Colombian territory and guarantee the free action of officials of the DEA, the CIA and its Army, as well as the implementation of the extraterritoriality of its laws in this nation.
The US government holds many political prisoners, including journalists; national security state whistleblowers; Black, Indigenous, and Latino revolutionaries; foreign diplomats; Muslims detained without trial; women who defended themselves from attacks; and environmental activists.
The United States constantly accuses its adversaries of holding political prisoners, while insisting it has none of its own. But for its entire history, the US government has used incarceration of its political opponents as a tool to crush dissent and advance the interests of economic elites.
Well-known cases are those entrapped or framed in US national security state sting operations, or imprisoned with extreme sentences for a minor offense because of their political activism, such as Black revolutionary George Jackson.
Each period of struggle by the working class and oppressed peoples against ruling-class control results in some activists locked up for their revolutionary work. “Political prisoner” has often meant those revolutionaries jailed for fighting their national oppression, as is the case with a great number of Black Panthers.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro celebrated the inauguration of Gustavo Petro as president of Colombia, with leaders pledging to rebuild the long but fraught relationship between the two Caribbean countries.
“I extend my hand to the people of Colombia, to President Gustavo Petro, to rebuild fellowship on the basis of respect and love between peoples,” said Maduro on Sunday.
For his part, Petro called for Latin American governments to leave aside their political differences and work toward regional integration.