Wednesday, August 17

Petro adopts a conciliatory style to temper the social division in Colombia


One thing is to be government and another, opposition. Drawer comment, but the one that fits like a glove to the incoming government of the left-wing coalition Historical Pact, led by Gustavo Petro, who this Sunday will assume the Presidency of a divided Colombiaalthough no longer so belligerent: one part holds its breath excited by the change of air and political line, while the other takes a deep breath in the face of anxiety and uncertainty of what may happen with a national government that ends 60 years of hegemony of center and center-right parties, beyond small shades of social democrats in social policy issues given by previous governments.

The change, in reality, is for everyone, whether they are supporters or opponents of the new government. As Iván Cepeda, a left-wing senator with a long history in Congress and in the debates for the government of the day, pointed out, they have to reinvent themselves. For Gustavo Petro, reinventing himself has been, until now, being pragmatic. In this month and a half prior to his arrival at the Casa de Nariño, he has met with everyone, friends and enemies, trying to sound and act like a president – ​​conciliator, dialoguer – without even being full-time president.

As soon as he won the elections, the new president reinforced his intention to achieve a great National Agreement, that is, to set some common issues to advance reforms in Congress –at least in this first crucial year– and to seek governability that is not assured. Even in the last month of his campaign, he approached the leaders of the traditional parties, politicians and figures that he publicly repudiated in his days as a belligerent congressman and leader of the opposition, times that today seem distant or that he tries to leave behind due to the imminence of being government, and which has cost him strong criticism from some of the more radical sectors of his caucus. The most notorious meeting was with the former president Álvaro Uribe Vélezhis fierce critic and as of tomorrow the non-formal leader of the opposition, to whom Petro has made very harsh debates and accusations in Congress and before the microphones.

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Reduce tensions

Although exhausted by the campaign, as he himself pointed out, Gustavo Petro took advantage of this previous month and a half to leave the country certain messages or, at least, mark the ground with his conciliatory tone and lower the tension of the most refractory or fearful sectors of whatever your government entails, especially the industrialists, agribusiness and banking. Dialogue, rapprochement, listening to the other, consensus without handing over their flags and an attitude of president and not of a candidate, have marked these weeks. What has been lacking, yes, is to go out with the same diligence to lower the expectations of his electorate, although he has achieved something with appointments or sending messages through interposed people so as not to wear down his image and political wealth before assuming command.

The appointment of José Antonio Ocampo as Minister of Finance it was a swift and reassuring move for both domestic and foreign markets. Highly accredited economist, former Minister of Finance and Agriculture (two key sectors for the Petrista government), who was in the co-direction of the Bank of the Republic and was director of National Planning, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations for Economic and Social Affairs, professor at Columbia University, and recognized by multilateral banks, Ocampo has the task of taking out a tax reform in the first year that seeks 25 billion pesos in the first year and the same in the other three years of office.

peace negotiations

Another significant movement was to designate as chancellor Alvaro Leyva, politician and diplomat of conservative origin, but who in the last 20 years has stood out for being a facilitator of peace negotiations with the guerrillas, close to European governments, to the left-wing sectors of the continent and knowledgeable about peace processes, which indicates that his management will be focused on achieving bilateral and multilateral support for these processes, which would include with some formula the Gulf Clan, of paramilitary origin and today the most powerful. Leyva met on July 28 with Venezuelan authorities to discuss the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and a week earlier Petro did the same with a delegation from the United States Government, whose president got up early on June 21 to congratulate the elected president.

It has moved in an agile, decisive and surprising manner in many cases, such as with the designation as Minister of Defense of Iván Velásquez, former magistrate of the Supreme Court, who investigated parapolitics and was the United Nations delegate in Guatemala, to investigate cases of corruption and impunity; a defender of human rights who does not enjoy particular popularity among the military high command and who promises to make the profound changes that institution requires.


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