No menu items!

Colombia: ex-military hostility towards Gustavo Petro “is part of the resistance to change”

The protest of retired military and police officers against Gustavo Petro’s administration on May 10 included a call to “defenestrate” the president.

In an interview with Sputnik, sociologist Luis Celis argues that certain sectors of the security forces are still in the Cold War and resist change.

On May 10, retired officers and non-commissioned officers of the Armed Forces and the Police demonstrated in Bogota’s Bolivar Square – the civic center of the Colombian capital – to protest against the security policies of Gustavo Petro’s government and the ceasefire with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas, within the framework of the peace negotiations.

Gustavo Petro's, Colombia: ex-military hostility towards Gustavo Petro “is part of the resistance to change”
Protest of Colombian reservists and retired public forces in Bogotá’s Bolivar Square (Photo internet reproduction)

The former president of the Colombian Association of Retired Officers (ACORE), John Marulanda, affirmed that the protest – in which 5,000 former members and reservists of the security forces participated – showed that Colombia was seeking to “defenestrate” the government of Gustavo Petro.

“Colombia is following in the footsteps of Peru, where the reserves were successful because they managed to defenestrate a corrupt president there.”

“Here, we are going to try to do our best to defenestrate a guy who was a guerrilla fighter,” declared Marulanda, a retired colonel and senatorial candidate for the Democratic Center of former president Alvaro Uribe (2002-20210).

“There is a sector of the Colombian security forces, both retired and active, who are still in the Cold War, that is, they still think that communists and trade unionists are enemies,” Colombian sociologist Luis Celis explained to Sputnik.

“That statement made by Colonel John Marulanda (…) expresses that vision that a former guerrilla can’t be the president of the Republic today”, added the post-conflict advisor of the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation.

Marulanda’s statements constitute “a very marginal fact in Colombian politics”, said Celis.

“If you follow the local press, almost the entire political spectrum, except for Uribism, condemned these statements.

However, the Colombian president and the Minister of Defense “are very conscious that it is necessary to advance in a transformation of the Public Force, which is fully respectful”, explained the sociologist.

“We have had a long conflict here, a lot of violence that has been intermingled. We are about to achieve that the Public Force is a public force of the whole nation, respectful of the constitution and Colombian social diversity,” Celis stressed.


The expert reiterates that there is a sector of officers and non-commissioned officers who do not feel comfortable with the fact that their commanding general, President Petro, is a former guerrilla.

“A good part of them have been resigning; those who are tremendously ideological have been resigning because they feel very unhappy with that situation,” he warned.

However, “we must also recognize” that within the Public Force, “a very institutional sector understands that the Army has the mandate to protect the territorial integrity and the defense of national security.”

“This has always existed in the Colombian Army,” added Celis.

The advisor to the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation argues that, since the 1960s in the first term and then in the 1970s and 1980s, there are “three lines of behavior or understanding of what their role is” as armed forces in Colombia.

“Some are anchored in the Cold War; this sector has been decreasing but still exists.”

“Then a sector is involved in corruption, drug trafficking, and serving illegal economic interests in the territory. And thirdly, there is an institutional sector.”

“That has been the reality of institutions like the Army,” Celis said.

“But I don’t think we are going to any coup assassination.”

“They do not have that homogeneous vision within themselves, nor do they have the capacity for those adventures, which I believe that, of course, everybody in Colombia and the world would reject any coup attempt”, he warned.

“What there is in Colombia is a president with a mandate for change, and these expressions of some retired military and their hostility towards the head of state are part of this resistance to change”, he concluded.

With information from Sputnik

News Colombia, English news Colombia, Colombian security

Check out our other content