Bogota, 15 February 2023 (TDI): People of Colombia have taken to the streets to rally in favor of proposed economic and social reforms put by President Gustavo Petro.
The left-wing President Gustavo Petro presented his health care plan before the Colombian Congress on Monday.
The policy introduces initiatives that include greater access, increased pay for health workers, and subsidies for the poor and elderly.
The proposal is expected to face opposition from conservative legislators who have argued that the reforms are too risky for the stability of the economy.
Push to eradicate inequality in Colombia
President Petro’s push for expanded healthcare access fits into his larger platform of reducing poverty and economic inequality in Colombia, where he was elected last June as the first leftist president in the country’s history.
Soon after taking the Presidential position, President Petro said, “I do not want two countries, just as I do not want two societies. I want a strong, just, and united Colombia.”
The President also hopes to institute changes for labor and pensions and offer subsidies for the elderly and those in poverty, as well as free university education for those who cannot otherwise afford it.
After facing opposition from some conservative legislators to the proposed plans, the crowds marched in the streets of Bogota on Tuesday, heeding Petro’s call to make a public show of support that he hopes will send a message to his fellow politicians.
The popular support could play a vital role in swaying more conservative members of Petro’s coalition in Congress, which includes politicians from left-wing, center, and right-wing parties.
The coalition has supported some of his priorities, such as tax-system reform, but is more divided on the issue of healthcare.
On the other hand, opposition groups also called for marches and asked the public to rally against the health package, which they characterized as a threat to the country’s economic stability.
Vice President Francia Marquez also responded to the opposition riots “We assume the mandate of CHANGE from the Colombian people and let’s dignify the health system.”
It is also to be noted that the marginalized group, including poor, Indigenous, and Afro-Colombian populations helped Gustavo Petro to the presidency in the conservative South American nation, which has a long history of inequality and political violence.