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Latino Daily News

Wednesday December 18, 2013

Embattled Bogota Mayor Faces Recall

Embattled Bogota Mayor Faces Recall

Photo: Gustavo Petro

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Already fighting ouster by the Colombian Inspector General’s Office for alleged mismanagement, leftist Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro will face a recall vote in early 2014, the Andean nation’s elections chief said Wednesday.

The ballot will take place in roughly 60 days, registrar Carlos Ariel Sanchez said, formally requesting 56.76 billion pesos ($29.2 million) from the Finance Ministry to pay for the referendum.

The recall effort needed to collect signatures from at least 289,263 registered voters in Bogota. The campaign presented 641,707 signatures, of which 357,250 were deemed valid.

For the recall vote to count, turnout must equal 55 percent or more of the 2.24 million ballots cast in the 2011 mayoral election.

Leading the push to recall Petro is Miguel Gomez Martinez, who represents part of Bogota in the Colombian Congress and is a member of President Juan Manuel Santos’ conservative Party of the U.

Gomez accuses Petro of mismanaging the municipal government, though his complaints are not directly related to the issue at the root of Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez’s decision last week to order the mayor ousted and ban him from public office for 15 years.

Trash piled up in Bogota for a number of days in December 2012 after Petro decided to shift responsibility for waste management from four private firms to the municipal water company.

The mayor harmed “the principle of freedom of enterprise” and put at risk “the environment and human health of the residents of Bogota,” Ordoñez said in announcing his ruling.

The decision has been roundly criticized in Colombia and abroad, with even Petro’s political foes accusing Ordoñez - a prominent rightist - of having gone too far.

Colombia’s attorney general, Eduardo Montealegre, has launched an investigation of Ordoñez’s handling of the case.

Petro was in Washington on Wednesday to begin a series of meetings with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, U.S. lawmakers and human rights organizations.

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