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Colombian Socialist, Former Militant Group Leader Endorses Biden

08-15-2020
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (AP Photo)
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (AP Photo)

A militant, socialist leader from Colombia said he would “without a doubt” cast his ballot for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Colombian Sen. Gustavo Petro, who lost his 2018 presidential bid, appeared on CNN Monday, when host Juan Carlos Lopez asked him, “Did you endorse Joe Biden as a candidate for president of the United States?”

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“Well,” he replied, “if I could vote, which I cannot, I’m not a citizen of the United States. But if I could vote in the United States, in the interest of my Latin-American people, I would vote for Biden, without a doubt.”

According to Reuters, Petro was part of the now-defunct M19 group, a radical guerrilla faction. In the fall of 1985, the group stormed the Colombian Supreme Court building in Bogota, where they took hundreds of people hostage, including all 25 of the country’s justices.

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From Business Insider:

On Wednesday, November 6, 1985, the guerrilla group M19, or the April 19 movement, stormed Colombia’s Palace of Justice and held all 25 of the country’s Supreme Court justices and hundreds of civilians hostage.

The M19 rebels had been frustrated by the government’s violation of a ceasefire, and they were allegedly there with the backing of the country’s most powerful drug lord, Pablo Escobar.

Over the next two days, the Colombian army mounted an operation to retake the building and free the hostages.

By the time the crisis was resolved, almost all of the 30 to 40 rebels were dead, scores of hostages had been killed or “disappeared,” and 11 of the court’s 25 justices were slain.

Petro was arrested that year on charges of weapons possession. He served 18 months in prison, where he claims he was tortured.

The Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium describes M19, which was founded on April 19, 1970, by a group of college students, as the “second-largest guerrilla group in Colombia.”

“In the late 1970s, the M19 began to kidnap drug traffickers, or their children, for ransom,” read TRAC’s description. “In retaliation, a group of traffickers, including Pablo Escobar, created the death squad, Death to Kidnappers (Muerte a Secuestradores, MAS). The police cooperated with the traffickers by capturing suspected M19 guerrillas, their associates, and innocent victims, who were then turned over to MAS to be tortured and killed. M19 essentially ceased to exist in 1990. M19, under intense pressure from the Colombian government’s security forces, as well as right-leaning paramilitary groups, agreed to a ceasefire.”

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TRAC listed M19s under its “left-wing terrorist groups” classification, which includes organizations that advocate Maoism, Marxism, communism, and socialism.

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