Rebellion in Colombia: Thousands take to the streets to protest Petro's leftists reforms
Around 90,000 protesters stormed the streets of Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Pereira, and Bucaramanga on Tuesday, with banners and slogans reading “No more Petro” and “Petro out”
June 21, 2023 7:28am
Updated: June 21, 2023 7:28am
Thousands of Colombians poured onto the streets on Tuesday to demonstrate against President Gustavo Petro’s leftist reforms, which seek to make significant changes to the country’s health and pensions system.
Around 90,000 protesters stormed the streets of Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Pereira, and Bucaramanga on Tuesday, with banners and slogans reading “No more Petro” and “Petro out,” according to local media.
“This government is going to take us back decades,” said Jimmy Rosero, a retired army officer, who was protesting in Bogota. “We don’t want any of its reforms to be approved.”
Petro, who took office last August, became Colombia’s first left-wing president. During his campaign, he promised to bring “total peace” to the country’s 60-year armed conflict with rebel groups, as well as improve access to healthcare, education, and jobs for Colombians.
Petro proposed to reform Colombia’s health system and make a government agency the only administrator of insurance payments, to make it easier for the government to reimburse hospitals.
However, opponents of the legislation claim that the government does not have the capacity to administer such a hefty sum of insurance payments. The legislation is currently stalled in Congress after Petro’s majority coalition disintegrated over differences regarding his proposed legislation.
Similarly, Petro proposed to introduce a labor law that would make it harder for employees to hire workers through temporary contracts. The law has been unable to pass in the Senate and the lower house.
The protests this week were the opposition’s response to marches that Petro called earlier this month to pressure Congress to approve his reforms. The protesters are arguing that the proposed legislation can negatively impact Colombia's finances and the job market.
Petro’s approval ratings have been declining after his administration failed to reach a concrete deal with the rebel groups. In a poll conducted in May, about 73% of Colombians said they believed the country’s situation was getting worse, compared to 48% in August of last year.