MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s president has claimed the leftist candidate in Colombia’s presidential race faces “a dirty war” by “conservatives,” leading the Colombian government to tell President Andrés Manuel López Obrador Friday to stay out of its domestic politics.
López Obrador makes a big point of saying he doesn’t interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, and has used that as an excuse to avoid criticizing non-democratic regimes like Nicaragua and Cuba.
But on Friday López Obrador blasted the opposition to front-running presidential candidate, the leftist Gustavo Petro. López Obrador claimed Petro faces a scare campaign, trying to depict him as dangerous radical, something similar to a campaign used against López Obrador in a failed presidential bid in 2006.
“I want to say I'm sending a hug to Petro,” López Obrador. “Why a hug? Because he is facing a dirty war of the most cowardly and undignified kind, everything we suffered in Mexico. All the conservatives are united, unethically."
Colombia's foreign relations ministry shot back on its social media accounts, saying the Mexican president's comments were “an offensive interference in our country's internal affairs.”
“We ask him to respect the autonomy of the Colombian people to choose their next president without interferences that try to influence voters,” the ministry wrote.
Last week Colombian voters chose Sen. Petro, a former rebel, to run in a second round against real estate tycoon Rodolfo Hernández, an outsider populist businessman.
Petro led the field of six candidates Sunday with just over 40% of the votes, while Hernández, who has no close ties to any political parties, finished second with more than 28%.