The first left-wing president in Colombia’s recent history, Gustavo Petro, has two urgent priorities in its management: the economy and social inclusion. And Petro aims to carry out the “transformations”, as it says, without abrupt measures, but in a transitional format, meeting the challenge of limited financial resources, double-digit inflation (10.21% per year), which is a record in 22 years, and levels of poverty that are the fastest growing in Latin America this year, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
The first international meeting scheduled on Petro’s agenda, on Monday, one day after his inauguration this Sunday, in the Plaza de Bolívar, in Bogotá, will be with Gabriel Boric, from Chile. Petro seeks to strengthen its Latin American alliance and he hopes that former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will return to the presidency of Brazil.
For him, Lula was a “political prisoner” and aspires to be president of Brazil again. The chancellor of the future multifaceted government of Petro, Álvaro Leyva, is a politician with a long career, a conservative who was very active in the peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and who was already in Venezuela, so that relations diplomatic missions of the two countries are retaken. Petro’s cabinet, known in its entirety only this Saturday, has figures already known to Colombians in key positions.
By pointing social democratic economist José Antonio Ocampo as his finance minister, Petro sent a decisive signal to investors and financial markets. “It seems that the economy is more important than defense, because Petro is not afraid to impose a defense minister who can generate tensions in the Armed Forces, but he was very careful to point a finance minister who would reassure the markets and investors. ”, said the analyst Víctor M. Mijares, from the Universidad de Los Andes, in Bogotá.
Ocampo was a minister in the governments of César Gaviria and Ernesto Samper, director of ECLAC, professor at North American universities and has a fluid dialogue with politicians from Latin America and the US, as well as international organizations.
Ocampo and Vice President Francia Márquez, for example, have different life histories and speeches, but Petro seems to want to look for a unit (or almost unity) in this country where political divisions and violence have always been challenging.
In a scenario of strong expectations, the pointment of criminal Iván Velásquez Gómez to the Ministry of Defense was interpreted as a sign of respect for human rights in the portfolio that is managed by the military – and many do not support the new president.
By pointing the philosopher and environmentalist Irene Vélez for the Mines and Energy portfolio, Petro ratified its decision to try to change the energy profile of Colombia, with limits for new oil exploration, an issue that pleases environmentalists and worries investors in the sector. and orthodox economists who look at the “fundamental” income generated for the country from oil exports.
But, like a tightrope walker with increasingly evident features of a social democrat and center-left, Petro seeks to send signals to the different sectors of Colombia. He took photos with military policemen and even put on a national force c, four days before his inauguration this Sunday.
This Saturday, when announcing the names of ministers who were missing from his cabinet, Petro incorporated Alfonso Prada, from the political entourage of former President Juan Manuel Santos, as his Minister of the Interior and who will be responsible for the relationship between the Presidency and Congress. Another sign of ‘moderation’, say analysts, of Petro in a new stage of his political profile.
“When he was mayor of Bogotá, he did not have the patience and willingness to dialogue with different sectors. But, since the campaign for the second presidential round, he is ‘very Petro’. He listens a lot, reflects a lot and is more mature than ever in such a diverse country,” says a Colombian academic who only voted for him in the second round.
Until a few days ago, the diversity of cultures and histories in Colombia led him to continue visiting places in the interior of the country, where, like Santos, he received his spiritual ceremony of ‘ancestral assumption’ together with the indigenous people of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The various indigenous ethnic groups are among the thousands of participants in the festivities of the assumption of Petro and it is estimated that more than one hundred thousand people will gather in the Plaza de Bolívar, in Bogotá.
In the crowd will be the thousands of informal workers, the unemployed and members of the various social layers of Colombia who are waiting for a change –and their patience is not infinite-. There are several stories that one hears here about the urgent needs of Colombians. “My son is home alone right now and I run from here to there,” says Andrea, a hotel employee, who has no one to leave the child with on Saturdays.
A former guerrilla of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) says that he is an admirer of the elected president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, who assumes the Presidency this Sunday. “Colombia needs it”, he says, in a conversation here in Bogotá. But his admiration for Petro does not seem to be without limits. “If in a hundred days, we Colombians do not perceive the first signs of change, I fear that our hope will not last long.”
A young student says that her patience is “infinite” with Petro and believes that his first year will be decisive to maintain his support and the direction of the country. In the streets of Bogotá, when one asks what is expected of Petro, the answers are almost always: that poverty decreases and that employment improves. They are realities also portrayed in the murals of the various neighborhoods of the country’s cital, where some say ‘SOS’ (help) and others ‘Petro, hope’.
Bogotá, special for Clarín