Petro’s ambitious reforms run into Colombian polarization and stagnation

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - 2023/01/24: Colombian President Gustavo Petro speaks during a press conference at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit in Buenos Aires. (Photo by Manuel Cortina/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Thousands of Colombians took to the streets both to support and protest against President Gustavo Petro’s controversial health reform, which eliminates areas of private sector management, raises salaries and overhauls how care is provided. The bill comes on the heels of contentious tax, energy and security reforms that have inflamed long-running political tensions.

While Petro’s broad congressional coalition helped push through a tax reform last year, plans to remove healthcare from private management caused tensions with prominent coalition members and within his cabinet.

Health reform is just the start of a busy legislative season in the Andean country. Petro’s government also plans to pass major pension and labor market reforms. Such expensive reforms are costing Petro political capital amid an environment of slowing economic growth and an uncertain outlook for the key energy sector.

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