Colombia presidential candidate Petro says gang planned to attack him on campaign trail

BOGOTA: Gustavo Petro, the leftist front-runner in Colombia’s presidential election, on Monday (May 2) canceled events in the country’s coffee region because of what his office said was a plot by a crime gang to attack him.

Petro, a former M-19 guerrilla and mayor of Bogota, was scheduled to travel to the region, including the city of Manizales, on Tuesday and Wednesday, ahead of the scheduled vote on May 29.

But the visit has been called off after Petro’s security team got information the La Cordillera crime gang was planning an attack, his office said in a statement.

“According to work carried out by the security team, which received first-hand information from sources in the area, the criminal group La Cordillera was planning to make an attempt on the life of presidential candidate Gustavo Petro,” said the statement, the authenticity of which was confirmed by press officers from the campaign.

The national police said they would give a statement on the case later on Monday afternoon.

La Cordillera, which operates largely in the coffee region, was blamed by police for the death of a local organizer of anti-government marches which swept the country a year ago.

Petro lead an opinion poll last week with 43.6 per cent of prospective first-round votes, while his closest rival, the center-right Federico Gutierrez, tallied 26.7 per cent.

Petro has attracted support on his promises to right profound income inequality in the Andean country, including via a redistribution of pension savings. But investors have warned the pension plan and his pledge to halt new oil projects could put the country’s economic stability at risk.

The 62-year-old will face a divided congress if he wins the presidency, with centrist and right-leaning parties largely throwing their support behind Gutierrez.