The decision of the new Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, to restore relations with the Polisario separatist militia can be explained by the current leader’s closeness to the separatist movements.
Relations between Colombia and the Polisario militia date back to 1985 when the country granted the separatist group its recognition, under the government of Belisario Betancur.
But these relations had been frozen in December 2000 under the presidency of Andrés Pastrana and in October 2021, Bogota had indicated that “the consular jurisdiction of its embassy in the kingdom now extends over all Moroccan territory, including the Sahara”.
This announcement signaled a warming and a clear rapprochement between the Moroccan and Colombian authorities. And the decision of the new Colombian president does not reflect bilateral relations, but rather his position.
According to a diplomatic source, the new left-wing president was active in the April 19 Movement militia, which had participated in guerrilla warfare against Colombian forces as early as the 1970s and carried out numerous hijackings of civilian planes and people before to get into politics.
The movement, to which the current Colombian president belonged, was a guerrilla group which participated in the Colombian armed conflict from 1974 to its demobilization in 1990, until its transformation into a political party and then its break-up to join the leftist bloc.
This re-recognition after more than 20 years of withdrawal returns “to extremist ideological reasons linked to the former meeting points between the Polisario militias and the armed rebellion of April 19” to which the current Colombian president belonged.
It goes against Colombia’s position on the Moroccan Sahara issue, since Bogota has supported UN efforts to find a political solution within the framework of Security Council resolutions.
This position, according to the same source, contradicts the positive dynamic that marked bilateral relations with Morocco before this decision, in particular during the convening of the joint committee in 2020, where a cooperation program for the period 2020-2022 was approved. . The latter was the subject of an evaluation meeting in May 2022.