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Repentant? Why the Colombian population is taking to the streets to protest against Petro

In politics, the expression honeymoon has been used since 1933, when the then newly sworn-in American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, surfing his high popularity, managed to pass a series of measures in the first hundred days of his first term.

The term came to designate that period in which a new ruler, still reaping the laurels of an electoral victory, wins a kind of pass free from the population, the press and their opponents – before the demands really begin.

The first leftist president in the history of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, who took office on August 7, did not benefited from a “full” honeymoon in the first weeks of his administration.

Largely because the Colombian population has a historical distrust of the left, due to the civil war that started in the years 1960 by the actions of armed groups. It didn’t help that Petro himself is a former guerrilla.

Another factor that weighed against the new president were some proposals in his government plan, such as not granting new licenses for exploration 1960

Still, a survey published in late August showed that Petro boasted an approval rating of 56% , slightly above the percentage obtained in the second round of the Colombian presidential election (50,4%).

However, less than two months after possession, this shy honeymoon seems to have come to an end. Petro’s haste to present reforms and the very content of these proposals are displeasing many Colombians, and last Tuesday (24) protests against the president were held in more than 20 Colombian cities and the United States, Mexico, Panama and Switzerland. A second mobilization was scheduled for October 24 , recently approved in Congress and that the organizers of the demonstrations claim could serve as a basis for the persecution of political parties and movements; the replacement of dozens of high-ranking military personnel; and the resumption of relations with Venezuela.

A proposed pension reform, high fuel prices and land invasions were also targets of protests.

However, the main issue denounced in the demonstrations was a proposal for tax reform, which, according to Petro, aims to increase government revenue to compensate for an alleged breach in finances inherited from predecessor Iván Duque and to generate “social justice”. ”, by taxing high-income Colombians more.

Architect Pierre Onzaga, one of the organizers of the protests, said that the proposal could generate a large increase in inflation in Colombia.

“When taxing plastic and removing the gasoline exemptions, would end up increasing the price of all foods that are packaged in plastic: salt, sugar, rice and pasta in neighborhood stores”, he claimed.

Another proposal criticized in the demonstrations is the Total Peace project: Petro claims to intend to reduce violence related to drug trafficking by negotiating peace agreements with guerrilla groups and discussing the legalization of drugs.

“They are prioritizing the trafficker over the of the merchant, the delinquent rather than the businessman,” read a poster of a protester in Cali last Tuesday.

Although allies have dismissed the demonstrations as “far-right” protests, Petro said that the disaffected have the right to express their opinion, although he suggested that these disaffected people spread false information.

“The right to express themselves will always be respected. But we will always have the right to report when disinformation is spread. Overall, the marches were nonviolent,” he wrote on Twitter.

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