By Arlene B. Tickner, EL ESPECTADOR, February 22, 2022


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Just a few months before the first round in the presidential election, speculations (unfounded so far) have started to circulate about the risk of foreign intervention, especially by Russia and Venezuela, in Colombia’s electoral process. Besides the administration, which has instigated the subject in different national and international scenarios, in her recent visit, Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary of State for Policy Matters, also insinuated that “malign” foreign actors are trying to manipulate our elections. She promised that Washington would work with its counterparts here to make sure of a free and just contest.

Although it’s no secret to anybody that the United States, the same as Russia, has a long history of attempts to influence voting in several parts of the world, little or nothing is being discussed about its interference in Colombia. To talk about its most important partner in South America, if not in the whole region, sharing a strategic alliance that is demonstrated in joint activities in this country and beyond, the mere possibility of having to renegotiate the terms of the bilateral relationship, especially in the realm of security, has to generate panic in some circles. No wonder Undersecretary Nuland extolled the Colombian Police as the backbone of the binational cooperation, and announced the delivery of $8 million to that agency, in spite of its proven record of police brutality and the lack of justice for the victims

Coupled with the foregoing, the fact that Nuland and Brian Nichols, Undersecretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, had met with the political coalitions seeking the Presidency, but not with the Historic Pact Coalition, as well as the observation made by a high U.S. official that the bilateral relationship could put up with any election result except for a “radical” candidate, all constitute clear attempts to influence the process.

Connecting the dots, the warning by María Jimena Duzán in her CAMBIO column that “there is a sector in power in Colombia that would like to halt whatever it was that gave rise to Gustavo Petro’s candidacy,” could be related to the above-described efforts. The approaches to unknown Mexicans to provide some money of dubious origin to the campaign is not for no reason; nor is the participation by the DEA in an operation of entrapment against Piedad Córdoba’s brother. It may be unlikely that this is a strategy orchestrated from the United States to smear Gustavo Petro, but it wouldn’t be the first time the DEA acted in its own interests, sometimes in association with local authorities, as happened with Néstor Humberto Martínez when he was the Attorney General.

The heavy foot of the “big beast” that Duzán refers to, where the central foreign protagonist is not Moscow, but probably is Washington, offers Duque and the extreme right a dangerous pretext to sow doubt about the elections, and scream fraud in case they don’t like the final result. Thus it’s urgent that those political and social actors that boast of supporting democracy, including the members of the Historic Pact Coalition, start to move their networks and contacts in the United States in favor of guaranteeing, once again citing Undersecretary Nuland, “Colombian elections for the Colombians.”

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