As Petro buries conflicts with Venezuela and armed groups, Colombian citizens take to the streets

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro has begun delivering on his promise of “total peace,” including reestablished relations with Venezuela, decriminalization of drug crimes, and a ceasefire with dozens of armed groups. While such achievements have the potential to decrease destabilizing violence and increase regional trade, challenging economic conditions and unpopular reforms risk undermining his infant administration.

In response to proposed tax increases that seek to fund $5.6 billion in social programs, thousands protested in cities across the country. Just 50 days into Petro’s administration, the protests reflect the fundamental polarization facing the country’s first leftist president in the streets and in congress, where he relies on a heterodox coalition to pass legislation.

Although violent protests, as seen after the last tax reform package, are unlikely, Petro has already been forced to pare back policies like oil licensing after pressure from pro-business groups. With former president Alvaro Uribe’s Democratic Center party leading the opposition, Petro will continue to face headwinds against his efforts to reform healthcare, land rights and voting oversight. 

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