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“Let them defeat us in court, but a fair one”: Daniel Quintero defends himself

Mayor of Medellín: I fear that the Government will not make a peaceful transition

Photo: Luis Eduardo Noriega A.

Daniel Quintero will continue to be suspended, for now, from his position as mayor of Medellín. The Council of State denied the precautionary measure that he had requested to annul the decision of the Attorney General’s Office to investigate him for participation in politics. While the same high court decides in substance on the guardianship with which Quintero seeks to return to his position, he spoke with The viewer of that decision and his foray into this presidential campaign. He does not show remorse and, instead, says that the participation in politics of mayors who are, ultimately, politicians should be regulated.

(Also read: Council of State denied request to rescind Quintero’s suspension)

What are you asking for with the guardianship and what are you trying to prove with it?

The National Government —I am not saying this, but rather constitutional experts, the European Electoral Observation Mission and many international actors— has broken the rule of law and the constitutional order of our country. It has stopped recognizing the political rights of a popularly elected leader. He has suspended it through an administrative authority that did not have the conditions to be able to remove me or sanction me.

With the guardianship we ask that the agreement in the American Convention be fulfilled, that due process be observed, that political rights be respected and that we be reinstated in office. Guardianship is not the only action, some international actions are coming. This is worrying because it occurs for political reasons, political intervention of an administrative authority. A political group tries to intervene in elections that are 15 days away.

(Also read: The Attorney General’s Office has 13 more investigations against the suspended Daniel Quintero)

Regarding the measures in the international scenario, could you give me details of the complaint that you will present to the IACHR?

The Constitution, the American Convention, has been violated without any due process, without the right to a defense. Even violating the same legislative act by the Attorney General’s Office, which will surely be declared unconstitutional. There was so much interest in getting a political leader out of the way that they violated the prosecution rules of the Attorney General’s Office. They should not try elected officials, that is up to justice. Even if he had those powers, he violated his own provisions.

A few months ago you were in Washington. What led you to file a complaint with the IACHR?

We knew that there was an interest in getting us out of the way. Ten days before the elections there were two frustrated attempts by the Police, who sought to assassinate us and eliminate a political leader who was about to win the elections. Once we won, it was a whole process to destabilize the Mayor’s Office, which included two attempts to intervene EPM. We had been advancing in complaints to recover the resources of HIdroituango and registering how the previous administration had hidden documents, so that the contractors, who were ultimately responsible for the damage, would escape responsibility.

(You may be interested: Daniel Quintero compared his suspension to the dismissal of Gustavo Petro in 2013)

And then, a recall that is fraudulent, illegal, supported by paramilitarism and financed with dark money. When the recall fell through, we know from relevant information that (Álvaro) Uribe himself had been meeting with control bodies, looking for a way to get us out of the way. We brought this to the attention of the IACHR, but we also warned that there was a serious risk that the Government and the Armed Forces would not abide by the results of the presidential elections.

We have also seen threats to the presidential candidate who is leading the polls. To a general, commander of 300,000 armed men, who made the decision to attack one of those candidates in violation of the Constitution. And how the Armed Forces were politicized, to the point that today it is difficult to understand whether the electoral results are going to be recognized or not. This is aggravated by the dismissal of a popularly elected mayor, through a clearly undemocratic act.

Now that you mention the statements of the Army commander, how do you see that you and the mayor of Ibagué are suspended, but the complaint against Zapateiro does not advance?

There are two important aspects to differentiate here. The first thing is whether or not the Attorney General’s Office has the capacity to judge popularly elected mayors, both that of Medellín and that of Ibagué. The answer is very simple: no. A former minister of Duque, from the same political party, obviously cannot do that task. Judges have to do it. Instead, the prosecutor’s role is to discipline unelected officials, such as General Zapateiro.

Second, what are the tests to determine if there is participation in politics? The Constitutional Court in our case agrees with us in saying that the popularly elected mayors, who are politicians by nature, have the duty and the right to intervene in political debates, especially their local debate and their government plan. Not so the military. There is an express provision in the Colombian Constitution that clearly states that the military cannot intervene in politics. The places where the military intervene in politics are called dictatorships. Here the civil authorities are faced with a serious threat. The attack was direct, with its own name. In our case, well, let them defeat us in court, but a fair one.

I’m going to refer to things you said on Twitter. For example, that there is “a coup d’état” and that “Democracy has been attacked”. However, the Attorney General’s Office also sanctioned the mayor of Ibagué, for allegedly supporting the candidate Federico Gutiérrez…

The prosecutor violates the Law, the Constitution and the American Convention when she sanctions the mayor of Ibagué and Medellín. Now, what is evident is that it was a media strategy to include a mayor from the same party as her, the government party, to simulate and try to legitimize an action that was clearly unconstitutional. In addition, she has the purpose of sanctioning the mayor of the second largest city in the country.

Don’t you think that he cheated the Political Participation Law with the video of the “change in first” and with the mentions of other parties in his Twitter account?

Political leaders have the right to confront controversies. In Antioquia, in a particular way, it coincides that Uribismo and Fajardismo joined in a recall process, because I denounced them in the Hidroituango case and they ended up convicted for it. At the time, the prosecutor tried to prevent me from mediating in that political debate and the Electoral Observation Mission reprimanded the prosecutor, telling her that it was not permissible for them to campaign, attack the mayor and the mayor could not defend himself against them. in political debate.

(You may be interested in: It was not just “the change in first class”: the evidence of the Attorney General’s Office against Daniel Quintero)

If the guardianship is favorable and you return, would you continue to use your Twitter account to send messages similar to those you have in this discussion?

We are going to continue defending our political rights. There is an additional peculiarity and that is that the prosecutor, in the absence of my support for a particular candidate, created a concept called the collective imaginary. In other words, if she imagines that a mayor is participating in politics, even if she has not done so directly, she can suspend him.

If we allow this to the attorney, being a former minister of President Duque, nominated by him, we will have completely broken democracy and we will return to the times in which Alejandro Ordoñez, attorney general, dismissed more than 20% or 30% of the mayors of the country because they were not part of its political line. That is going backwards in the democratic advances. There is a discussion that is worthwhile and it is the restriction that a political leader expresses his political opinion in electoral terms. Although we have not done it ourselves, the Constitution says that the norms of participation of political leaders must be regulated. All over the world politicians are allowed to express their political opinion.

In Colombia it has not been regulated and what the Attorney General’s Office and other entities have understood is that until it is regulated it is prohibited. I would believe the opposite, that until it is regulated it is allowed. What should not be used are public resources, which the Government has done. The trap to the Law of Guarantees to use public resources and favor a candidate.

How, then, should the Attorney General act in cases like yours or the mayor of Ibagué?

What you have to do is take the process before a judge. File a complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office, as required by the American Convention, which says that someone’s political rights can only be taken away if a judge decides so in a criminal proceeding. It could, if it deems it convenient, present a criminal reform, which includes some new criminal offenses, against political leaders. Then, it would be the Prosecutor’s Office or even itself, the entities that could collect evidence and deliver it to a judge. He himself evaluates and sanctions them.

The opposite would be to hand over power to the current president, so that he appoints a prosecutor nominated by him, who becomes a political weapon to remove all mayors or political leaders who are not of his size. That is, a dictatorship.

To learn more about justice, security and human rights, visit the Judicial section of The viewer.

Source: Elespectador

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