(Bogotá) Colombian President Gustavo Petro on Monday called on his fellow citizens to support his left-wing reforms in the streets of the country, raising the threat of a “revolution” if Congress continues to oppose it.
In power since August 2022, President Petro is currently facing a very serious political crisis, with several of his reforms blocked in Congress, despite a coalition of his left-wing majority with the center and the moderate right. He replaced seven of his ministers last week, undermining his government coalition, open to the traditional parties of the center and the moderate right.
“The attempt to slow down reforms can lead to a revolution”, warned the head of state, in his speech of May 1, a harangue which was intended “on the balcony”, in front of several hundred of his supporters gathered in front of the seat of the presidency in Bogotá.
“Do not leave us alone in these huge, cold palaces. Do not leave us alone against the pack of the privileged. It’s time for change and we must not back down […] I invite you to be at the forefront of the fight for change”, hammered Mr. Petro, taking up the key theme on which he was elected to summer 2022.
By replacing seven of his 18 ministers last Wednesday, President Petro broke with the traditional parties that had supported him at the start of his term.
The president justified this new “emergency government” as a reaction to a “Congress which was not able to approve a few simple and very peaceful articles”, on a bill for the equitable distribution of land in particular, and after the rejection by parliamentarians of a disputed reform of the health system.
In his Workers’ Day speech, Mr Petro referred to the massive protests faced by his conservative predecessor Ivan Duque (2018-2022).
“Thanks to this struggle, I am here […], this social explosion of popular youth has put the need for change in the center of the country,” said the left-wing leader, to the cheers of his supporters chanting “Petro, my friend, the people are with you” and “resistance”.
“We are not far from dialogue,” Mr. Petro added in conclusion, however, apparently leaving the door open for political dialogue.