Media reports said the new administration of Colombian President Gustavo Petro sought to maintain ties with the Polisario Front, which rules the Western Sahara region and is composed largely of indigenous nomadic inhabitants of Western Sahara, the Sahrawis.
Petro, a former fighter of the now demobilized M-19 rebel group, was recently sworn in as Colombia’s first leftist president. The 62-year-old took his oath of office on Sunday, vowing to unite the polarized nation.
Columbia is part of the elite Latin American club that has gone to the left and away from Western dominance, particularly by the US. Colombia had been Washington’s top Latin American ally for decades.
On December 10, 2020, Morocco and Israel agreed to normalize relations in a deal brokered with the help of the administration of former US President Donald Trump. Morocco became the fourth Arab state to strike a normalization deal with the regime. The others were the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. Trump sealed the agreement in a phone call with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. As part of the agreement, the US president agreed to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara region, which has been at the center of a dispute with neighboring Algeria.
The Algerian Foreign Ministry later rejected Trump’s stance, saying the US decision “has no legal effect because it contradicts UN resolutions, especially UN Security Council resolutions on Western Sahara.”
The Algeria-backed and pro-independence Polisario Front has also rejected “in the strongest terms” Trump’s stance on the disputed desert region, stating that Trump had attempted to give to Morocco “that which does not belong to it.”
The agreement with Israel drew condemnation from the Palestinians, who termed it a “stab in the back” and a betrayal of their cause.
US rapidly losing influence in Latin America
Across Latin America, voters have punished those in power for failing to lift them out of their misery. And the winner has been Latin America’s left, a diverse movement of leaders that could now take a leading role in the hemisphere.
It happened in Peru, where voters last year elected schoolteacher Pedro Castillo. It happened in Chile, the free-market model of the region, where 36-year-old former student activist Gabriel Boric brought the left back to power.
And now it has happened in Colombia, a country where the left has long been associated with rebel movements over decades of bloody internal conflict. Petro, a former mayor of Bogota, has now promised to reopen diplomatic relations with Venezuela, allowing trade between the two countries and consular services to resume.
All eyes are now on Brazil, the largest country in Latin America, where former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva leads polls to unseat President Jair Bolsonaro in October. A Lula victory would mean all of the largest countries in the region, including Mexico and Argentina, are led by anti-US leftist presidents.