Petro’s growing radicalism receives robust support in the streets

If the opposition in Bogotá demonstrated a great call, Petro accepted the challenge and the street responded. In the capital, before noon, the Plaza de Bolívar was full waiting for the president, who joined the march around 11:20 on Carrera Séptima with 19 and walked towards the Plaza, inflaming a massive call.

With the help of his cabinet, the Historical Pact bench and the unions, Petro showed that he has the capacity to mobilize tens of thousands of people in favor of his ambitious reformist agenda and his most radical slogans.

In an hour-long speech, the president divided the country into warring races and classes. He attacked all of his relevant opponents and delegitimized the opposition marches of April 21, which were massive. He also proposed the constituent assembly as the path to a “national agreement”, but under his own terms and conditions.

He did so in compliance with the objectives set by his government and its allies in the social movement: to make a splash in Bogotá, filling the Plaza de Bolívar, to demonstrate strength in the southwest of the country, with Cali as the epicenter, to establish itself in Medellín, bastion of the right, and bring out more spontaneous left-wing people who are not necessarily affiliated with the more traditional organizations.

Petro holds the pulse on the right

The protesters naturally accepted the presence of the president and his government. There were no objections because they participated in the traditional workers’ march. “Of course I agree with the government marching with us. It is the government of change,” said Carlos Rincón, manager of Cootradecun, a financial cooperative of teachers from Bogotá and Cundinamarca that has been participating for 20 years since May 1.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Labor, Gloria Inés Ramírez, said upon her arrival at the march that “for the first time in 214 years a government marches with workers,” forgetting other moments in which liberal governments, highly valued by Petro, such as the of Alfonso López Pumarejo, based their power on the large unions.

The government also made a point of showing a power of convening beyond the more organized left, which even hired buses and distributed refreshments to fuel the marches.

In Medellín, for example, Estefanía Rojas marched because she wants the labor reform to improve the working conditions of workers with a service contract, like her, who has a person with a visual disability as a partner and is the main provider for her home. .

The government’s call was marked by close coordination between the government, the unions and the Historical Pact bench. Petro also distributed his senior officials to different parts of the country. In Cali, the epicenter of the strength that they sought to show in the southwest of the country, was the Minister of the Environment, Susana Mumahad, the Director of Planning, Alexander López, and the Vice President, Francia Márquez, the star of the day in the Valley and who came out to respond to former vice president Franciso Santos.

Petro delegitimizes all his opponents

In Cali, around noon, the people in the march took the opportunity to dance to the music of the stage at the height of the Villanueva sector. Gustavo Londoño, a protester in that city, recognized the right of the opposition to march and said that the constituent assembly is not necessary as long as Congress functions.

The relative ease and joy of the protesters was very different from Petro’s confrontational tone in Bogotá. On the stage, with his inseparable cap and accompanied by Minister Ramírez and the presidents of the main unions, Petro gave free rein to a long speech without a script.

The president began by announcing the breaking of diplomatic relations with Israel and then mentioned his three main social reforms – labor, pension and – to attack and delegitimize all his opponents.

With the labor reform, Petro attacked former President Álvaro Uribe for labor policies during his government. “His thesis is that the more slavery, the more employment,” said the president, once again testing the limits of political peace with one of his main adversaries, who has also been raising his tone against the government. “They denied Castro-Chavismo, but with their actions every day they are executing it,” the former president responded in a video.

With the pension reform, the president questioned the economic elite and the congressmen he identifies as representatives of the banking world. “They made savings a bankers’ business. “They are peddlers of life,” he said.

And with the health reform, he once again attacked Keralty, the Spanish multinational that owns EPS Sanitas, intervened by the Health Superintendency. He mentioned the company’s contributions to party campaigns, a marginal contribution compared to the donations from large economic groups. Petro points to Keralty’s donations as the main reason why the health reform sank in the Seventh Committee of the Senate.

To top it all off, Petro totally ignored the legitimacy of the opposition march on April 21. He called it “the march of death” and “the coffins.” He described the phases of an eventual impeachment trial against him, motivated by investigations into his campaign financing irregularities. And he attacked several former presidents, such as Julio César Turbay, whom he called a “mafia boss.”

“They don’t like that I don’t call myself Ospina, Pastrana or Santos. “I do not belong to that oligarchy, that indolent pseudo-aristocracy dressed as slaveholders, who think that the country should not change,” he said.

Petro continues sending confusing messages about the constituent

“I understand that a constituent assembly has been discussed to modify a law that allows Petro to stay in power,” says Yeison, a 23-year-old young man, who joined the May 1 march in Bogotá. “I would not like, even supporting Petro, for him to stay in power. “I know that’s not what he wants,” he added.

Confusion reigns over the idea of ​​Petro’s constituent assembly. The president also encourages it. “A national agreement is not a piece of paper that will be mocked later. It is written with constituent letters,” said the president on stage.

The expression “constituent letters” is a novelty in Petro’s speech on the subject. Since he made his proposal for a national constituent assembly, the president has diluted it with his idea of ​​a “constituent power,” which encompasses different assembly spaces related to his government program, from student events to his “government with the village”.

One of the main fears of the opposition is that Petro will seek to stay in power after 2026. In the Plaza de Bolívar some of his supporters carried banners with the idea. “Re-election! Re-election,” some shouted. “The constituent power is not for me to be re-elected. I am not like Uribe. “I am not addicted to power,” the president said.

With this, Petro seems to identify the so-called “national agreement” with an eventual constituent. But he proposed it after delegitimizing his opponents and interpreting his ideas as the only possible path for “peace” and “prosperity” of the country.

Petro challenges his ministers again

“A minister who is afraid of you can step aside,” said the president regarding his repeated demand to accelerate the execution of his government. “As long as you have the people, you should not fear anything.”

But first, Petro highlighted the presence of the Minister of Health, Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo, at the march. He was the only one in the cabinet mentioned by Petro and applauded in the square. “The Minister of Health came with a white coat because he is a surgeon,” said the president, amid applause for Jaramillo, making a comparison with the people from the health union who went out to march with the opposition, and whom he also rejected.

Petro’s gesture is not accidental. As La Silla told it, Jaramillo is one of the ministers most valued by the president. And his management has been characterized, precisely, by the type of audacity that Petro requires to govern.

Jaramillo, faced with the collapse of the health reform in the Senate, began to accelerate his health model by decree. He also showed the EPS the stick with the interventions of SuperSalud and after a division strategy, actively promoted by him, he reached an agreement with private insurers to present a new concerted reform to Congress.

“We are today’s rebels from the government. We must never lose, through pride, popular love. That implies that we must commit ourselves deeply. Transform it into reality,” said Petro, in the middle of a packed square, after claiming the flags of the M-19, the legacy with which the president is inspired to demand more audacity from his government and the people he says embody.

 
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