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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Petro Begins With Majority In New Colombian Congress

BOGOTÁ ( Associated Press) — President-elect Gustavo Petro managed to turn the page and win a majority of the new congress that took office on Wednesday and that will be key to carrying out his ambitious reforms, showing that Colombia I also have the first leftist government. His story begins his mandate with parliamentary support, as was always the case for the rulers of the time.

Congress is bicameral, with 108 senators and 187 representatives in the chamber, but unlike the previous one it will have 16 seats for victims of armed conflict for the first time, an unprecedented representation of the left and nearly 30% of seats occupied by women.

Political forces in the country have been reorganized in recent elections, with legislative elections held in March, and the ballot winning Petro’s presidency in June, replacing current conservative President Ivan Duque, who hands over power on 7 August.

Analysts predicted a complex governance potential for the petro. Although he won 20 seats in the Senate with his historic treaty movement, did manage to have the largest bench, and 29 in the lower house, he needed political support from the center and the right to form a majority.

Petro generated resistance during a political campaign in a segment of the population that distrusted his past as a rebel, a militant of the extinct guerrilla M-19, in a country that has been in decades of armed conflict with left-wing guerrillas. was passing through. In addition, he challenged the establishment and proposed structural reforms in terms of pensions, taxes for the wealthiest strata, land ownership and withdrawal models.

However, with political compromises, he managed to get the most powerful of the traditional parties in his favor and several benches that did not support him in the campaign, such as the Liberal Party, led by former President César Gaviria, and one of the Part Conservative Party, with political views far beyond Progressivism and the Left. Now, they have joined the Green Party, the Alianza Social Independent y Communes, a party formed by former militias from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) who laid down their arms in 2016.

Other centre-right parties such as La U or Cambio Radical have not yet defined whether they will join Petro’s coalition.

Universidad de la Sabana political analyst Johan Caldas told The Associated Press that both the “political agreement to take the initiative, as well as the distribution of positions, ended up forming a majority coalition.” However, retaining him throughout his government will be a challenge.

Although it is a left-wing government, Petro has made room for more political currents in the Council of Ministers and Congress will also have a diverse board of directors and include people who recently joined the coalition.

“It is quite natural that government parties govern like all democracies,” Senator Roy Barreras told the Associated Press, dismissing it as political patronage. Barreras is close to Petro and will be the president of the Senate according to political agreements made by the parties.

For Barreras, the majority was achieved by Petro’s invitation to obtain a “national agreement” to initiate negotiations with the wider social, political and economic spheres.

In opposition were the Christian side and the Democratic Centre, a conservative court led by former president lvaro Uribe Vélez (2002–2010), a staunch political opponent of Petro.

“We are surprised because there are parties that are ideologically related to Petro’s representation and now we see them as allies,” Democratic Center Representative Jose Jaime Uzcategui told the Associated Press. Opposition “.

“We’re going to defend the tooth and defend the Constitution, the law of the opposition, and the interests of the public force, which we see as a grave threat in this government,” Uzcategui said.

Although Colombia is a presidential country, analyst Caldas says, its power is not absolute and “limited not only by law, but also by pressure from political parties and institutions.”

Petro proposed reforming the police, currently under the Ministry of Defence, by transferring it to the Ministry of the Interior or Justice. As well as eliminating the riot police that usually interfere with social protests.

However, Barreras said that the priority of the legislative agenda would focus on tax reform worth more than $10.9 billion, which seeks resources to fund the broader social programs he promised his voters such as free universities. Education, “an urgent scheme in the first 100 days of the government against hunger and food subsidies”.

Those most affected by tax reform will be those with higher incomes. According to the new finance minister, Jose Antonio Ocampo, in an interview with the Associated Press, he would be the “richest 1%”, that is, those with a monthly income of more than 10 million pesos ($2,100). tax rent. He also assured that the tax on property or wealth would come back only for individuals and the tax benefit would be reduced for some sectors.

“There will be a lot of resistance from the landlords of financial, banking, privileged economic sectors and unproductive land, who will have great lobbying capacity to try to block the social reforms that the Petro government will undertake,” said Barreras, who proposed a tough reform. To lead a expedited process that falls on the pocket amid rising inflation.

In parallel, Patrismo proposes the promotion of a comprehensive rural reform that prioritizes food sovereignty and helps for farmers, a political reform against corruption, police reform and the creation of a Ministry of Equality, led by Vice President Francia. Will mark. , , the first Afro-descendant to hold the position.

But above all, the challenge before the new Congress is to improve the image of the citizens. There has been an increase in Congress’s unfavorable opinion since 2010, according to the Invmer survey conducted periodically since 2000. In the final measure, with 1,200 surveys conducted between June 30 and July 10, Congress has a 73% unfavorable image compared to 19. % favorable opinion.

Jason Gomez, a taxi driver from Bogota, considers it unfair that Congressman earns a millionaire salary of about $7,800 a month, while he works more than 12 hours a day as a transporter and takes care of his family of four. earns only about $465 per month for ,

A group of congressmen from government parties will introduce a reform in Congress in the coming days that will include pay cuts, limit re-election of Congressmen to more than three terms, and reduce vacations and absenteeism. Similar projects have failed in the past.

“Whoever wants more,” Gomez told the Associated Press. “They are not going to allow their pay to be reduced, because they are the ones who make the law.”

World Nation News Desk
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