LatinNews Daily - 21 February 2023

COLOMBIA: Petro seeks to buttress support for key reforms

On 20 February Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro and Interior Minister Alfonso Prada met the legislative bench of the centre-left Alianza Verde (AV) to try and shore up support for key reform initiatives, notably the sweeping healthcare reform the government sent to congress last week.


Relations between the Petro administration and its allies are coming under significant strain and there is concern that the controversial healthcare reform could cause a rift in the disparate cross-party coalition that Petro has forged in congress. In this context, guaranteeing the support of the AV is a priority for the government, but its own relations with the government have been marked by recent friction.

  • AV legislators and political leaders emerged from the meeting in the presidential palace Casa de Nariño expressing support for the Petro administration’s total peace initiative and “social reforms” that it sees as fundamental for underpinning this peace, such as “health, agrarian reform, greater investment in infrastructure, and education”. They also agreed to work together with cabinet ministries to strengthen the government’s proposed national development plan. But they were clear that this support was by no means a “blank cheque”.
  • Tensions with AV have grown in recent weeks amid open differences between Petro and the AV mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López, over the construction of the Bogotá metro. Petro is pushing for modifications, such as building part of the metro underground in accordance with plans and designs drawn up during his tenure as mayor of Bogotá (2012-2015), that could cost an additional Col$15trn (US$3.1bn) and hold up the project.

Looking Ahead: Securing AV support is a positive development for the government but the senate president, Roy Barreras, part of Petro’s Pacto Histórico has been fiercely critical of the healthcare reform in general and the health minister, Carolina Corcho, in particular, and the traditional parties within this coalition, such as the Partido Conservador (PC) and Partido Liberal (PL), are likely to raise objections to the bill and potentially even outright oppose it, especially with recent polling evidence showing that Petro’s popularity is on the wane.

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