BOGOTA ( Associated Press) – From the balcony of the presidential palace, leftist Gustavo Petro defended his social reforms Tuesday in front of hundreds of citizens who answered his call for mobilization, while Congress prepared to start debates and regions Is. The opposition prepares for demonstrations against his administration.
The President said, “Change is not possible without the people, what was elected was not just one person… It was to return the government to the people, the power of the people.” Colombian flags and some wore hats with their names on them.
Gelmo Delgado, 75, decided to take to the streets to support the first leftist government in the country’s history. “We have always rallied against authoritarian governments. It is our right to come today to support the government of change,” he told The Associated Press, representing a pensioners’ organization.
Earlier, in the Plaza de Bolivar, dozens of people lined up to hear Petro’s speech to enter the Plaza de Armas, located in front of the presidential palace and where heads of state usually receive military honors.
Demonstrations were also called by the Pacto Historico, the Petro political movement, and unions in Bogotá and other capital cities such as Medellin, Cali, and Barranquilla. Meanwhile, the opposition is planning a nationwide march on Wednesday.
The day before Petro presented the bill with which he wants to reform the health system Giving the state greater control of resources and strengthening preventive care, in an effort to guarantee access to the system throughout the region, especially in rural areas.
Petro’s social reform will be the first that Congress must process this year and has sparked debate across the country as it seeks to modify the health model in place since 1993 and weaken health-promoting companies, which typically But private.
For Rogelio Peña, an officer at NASA Indigenous Peoples, it is a duty to answer Petro’s call to the streets. “It’s not Petro, people have to move it,” he told the Associated Press, pointing to the red and green sugar cane characteristic of his community. He said, “As a people we are in 10 departments of Colombia, all with the same problem: no health in a remote reservation… no access roads, no schools.”
Carlos Arias Orejuela, a political analyst and professor at Externado University, assured the Associated Press that, although in other democracies it is strange to call for a president in the streets, in Petro’s case it responds to his “political personality.”
In 2014, when he was mayor of Bogotá, he called on thousands of people from the balcony of the mayor’s office to protest a disciplinary sanction from the attorney general’s office that had ordered his dismissal. The case was settled in 2020 when the Inter-American Court of Human Rights determined that the state had violated Petro’s political rights.
For the analyst, this background allowed Petro to “get the platform in terms of prestige and public opinion” that would later help him run for president.
The call in the streets comes as the government retains a majority in Congress and wins approval of tax reform despite resistance in its first months Economic sectors.
Arias Orajuela explained, “It generates pressure for reforms and an exercise of legitimacy so that he (Petro) can bargain against the congressmen.”
Petro also plans to present a pension system reform to Congress that, as he explained from the President’s balcony, would require that employees pay a fixed monthly portion to a public fund and thus burden private funds. reduce. For the president, the current system “enriches only the two bankers” and aims to give bonuses to those who do not currently receive pensions.
Recalling the time of his political campaign in which he filled public squares, Petro resumes his speech against the country’s elite.
The President insisted, “We need them to give up their selfishness, that if they earn half, they will earn more in future, because a businessman becomes rich only when a society is rich.” Socialism, but towards a “true” democracy.
The president will also promote a labor reform in Congress that aims to modify work schedules so that employers pay for overtime on nights and weekends.