Colombia Erupts in Protest Against President Petro’s Reforms

Colombia Erupts in Protest Against President Petro's Reforms

Colombia Erupts in Protest Against President Petro's Reforms

Approximately 250,000 people in Colombia rallied across different cities to express their discontent with the social and economic changes proposed by President Gustavo Petro, who belongs to the left-wing. Numerous voices echoed the phrase “out with Petro” during the protests.

On Sunday, a massive number of Colombians flooded the streets to voice their opposition to the reform agenda of Gustavo Petro’s left-wing government. The streets echoed with chants of “Petro out!” as people from cities all over the nation joined in the protest. Despite the rain, an estimated 70,000 individuals marched in Bogota, proudly waving their national flags and playing trumpets. Eventually, they all gathered in the central Bolivar Square.

Among the protesters was Martha Estrada, a 64-year-old pensioner from Bogota, who expressed her disappointment by saying, “I voted for change, for Petro, but we’re still facing the same situation. I’m demonstrating because I believe Colombia still has hope, and because I love my country.” She wore a tricolored hat as a symbol of her patriotism.

In response to the protests, Petro claimed that the main objective of the marches was to overthrow the “government of change,” labeling the demonstrations as a “soft coup” aimed at hindering reforms. He even called for a massive pro-government march on May 1.

In a post to X (formerly Twitter), Petro stated that approximately 250,000 people participated in the protests nationwide. While the demonstrations were significant in Medellin, Bogota, and Bucaramanga, he described them as “weak” in 18 other locations.

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Unpopular reforms

Colombia Erupts in Protest Against President Petro’s Reforms

Petro, a former leftist guerrilla, has been facing protests on and off ever since he assumed office in 2022.

In the recent wave of protests, various medical associations, opposition groups, and even former allies of Petro have been urging people to take to the streets and voice their opposition to the reforms he is attempting to implement.

These reforms include plans to nationalize health services and address the challenges surrounding peace talks with armed guerrilla groups.

The president aims to diminish the involvement of private companies in providing healthcare services.

“The policies of this government are extremely concerning. Despite its imperfections, the healthcare system was functioning, but now Petro is jeopardizing the well-being of patients who lack access to healthcare or medicine, pushing them into a crisis,” expressed Monica Leon, a 45-year-old doctor.

Petro’s “total peace” policy, aimed at ending six decades of armed conflict, has received criticism. Invamer’s polling data shows that 70% of Colombians believe the situation in the country is deteriorating.

Betty Ospina, a 67-year-old protester, expressed her concern, stating, “This man prioritizes protecting guerrilla criminals over the good people of our country.”

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Petro’s power has diminished

Colombia Erupts in Protest Against President Petro's Reforms

Just under two years have passed since Petro assumed leadership of a nation predominantly influenced by conservative elites.

A significant setback occurred recently as Colombia’s congress rejected a bill proposed by Petro to enhance government oversight of the healthcare system, with the goal of enhancing and reducing the expenses of medical care. In light of this defeat, Petro has now resorted to issuing a decree to seize control of two prominent medical insurance companies in the country.

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