Bogota. Large nationwide demonstrations have strengthened the progressive government of Gustavo Petro in its fight against the anti-reform opposition. The government’s strategy for implementing social reforms is to mobilize society, said President Petro thousands People in Bogota. “If we have a mobilized population, the government will not be overthrown” and the way for reforms will be paved.
On the streets used to go Organizations of women, indigenous people, small farmers, agro-Colombians, students, residents of poor neighborhoods and trade unions. According to government information, they demonstrated for reform policies in 100 cities, small towns and communities. The number of participants varies depending on the source 60.000 and 200.000.
The aim of the mobilization was to put pressure on the traditional parties that are hindering or delaying the passage of social reforms in Congress. Petro called on “the oligarchy,” those “who have traditionally ruled the country,” “who have economic power” and “are sometimes more powerful than the president himself,” for a “national agreement” on social justice.
“I am sure that we have violence because we are deeply unequal,” Petro said. He recalled that Colombia is the fourth most socially unequal country in the world. The reforms were now aimed at social justice.
The health reform should guarantee that medical care reaches “all corners of Colombia” and not just the rich north of Bogotá. Education should be a right and not a privilege. To achieve this, the education system must be reformed.
The pension reform provides, among other things, for a special pension for people who are not currently part of the pension system. The labor reform aims for decent working hours and adequate leisure time.
Land reform aims to change the concentration of productive land in the hands of just 3,000 people. Today the government distributes land in the range of 20 to 30,000 hectares. That is not enough, emphasized Petro. With a “national agreement” the land distribution could increase to 600,000 to one million hectares. This would be important to boost food production.
Petro also announced another reform: that of water, electricity and gas supplies. The aim is to expand this to areas that currently have neither water nor electricity. In addition, users should have more say in supply policy.
The president described the progress in peace talks with the ELN guerrillas as “historic”. For the first time, she agreed to a bilateral ceasefire with the government. But the peace dialogue doesn’t just mean “talking to a few people with guns walking around in the mountains.” The dialogue must be conducted with all parts of society in order to achieve the “national agreement”.
The “truth” about the history of violence in Colombia plays a central role. It is important to find out who is responsible for the “horror” that the country has experienced. It’s not about revenge, it’s about ensuring that the terrible thing doesn’t happen again, it’s about reconciliation.
Truth and mobilization are the two strategies to “bring those who have always been in power into dialogue with the population.”
Petro called for people to “organize themselves in cooperatives, in the citizens’ representatives of the rural districts, in every city district, in youth associations.” “We want an organized population,” he said. At the same time, he invited “ex-presidents, all the richest men, all the political parties” to the dialogue.
Around 20,000 indigenous people traveled to Bogotá to support the demonstrations. They were attacked with racist comments in parts of the media. They described them as “sheepheads” that had been bought by the government to demonstrate.
“Today the entire Colombian people took to the streets to support this government. Not, as the hegemonic media says, because they pay us and force us. No, it is because this government is carrying out the reforms of change. We demand “that Congress passes the reforms of change,” said an activist told the news portal Colombia Informa.