A Police Chief’s Ouster Highlights Colombia’s Progressive Shift

A Police Chief’s Ouster Highlights Colombia’s Progressive Shift
The then-chief of Colombia’s national police, Gen. Henry Sanabria, attends a police and military promotion ceremony at a military school in Bogota, Colombia, Dec. 17, 2022 (photo by Sebastian Barros for NurPhoto via AP).

It didn’t take very long after Colombian President Gustavo Petro named Gen. Henry Sanabria as the country’s new head of the national police last August before the questions started emerging. Sanabria was meant to start a new chapter in the country’s policing, marking a clean break from leadership tainted by the aggressive police response to public protests in 2021, which left scores dead. As an attorney, he would help usher in an era of enlightened public safety under the progressive Petro, Colombia’s first leftist president.

But the script didn’t unfold as expected.

Just weeks after he took office, with Halloween approaching, Sanabria offered his thoughts on the upcoming holiday using terms that left many Colombians scratching their heads. Posting on WhatsApp, Sanabria warned that Halloween is not an “innocent” celebration. Instead, he called it a “satanic strategy,” adding a biblical quote about not drinking from the cup of God and the cup of the devil.

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