Weekly Report - 29 June 2023 (WR-23-26)

COLOMBIA: Petro shifts government

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro moved the whole cabinet to the northernmost department of La Guajira for the week starting on 26 June. The move was designed to underscore Petro’s commitment to govern for the whole country, breaking with the traditional centralisation of power and ending the neglect of the interior. It also provided some respite for the embattled head of state as a corruption scandal engulfs his government and threatens to derail his faltering reform agenda [WR-23-24].
La Guajira, which has a majority indigenous population, has the highest levels of extreme poverty and child malnutrition in the country. Nearly one-third of the 141 deaths nationwide from child malnutrition this year have been in La Guajira, where there are nearly 2,000 severe cases in children under five. This owes in no small part to the fact that La Guajira is a Caribbean coastal desert where many indigenous communities have limited access to water, food, and other basic services. After visiting various municipalities in the department, Petro declared an economic and social emergency, allowing him to issue decrees, bypassing congress, to prioritise the use of water for human consumption rather than oil palm plantations and thermo-electric plants.

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