Petro seeks support for his reforms in streets a month before regional elections

Bogotá, Sept 26 (EFE).- Colombians will take to the streets on Wednesday in a demonstration “for life” called by President Gustavo Petro, who has called on unions, workers, indigenous people, and peasants to defend the reforms promoted by his government a month before the elections of mayors and governors.

The main rally will take place in the Plaza de Bolivar, the center of political power in Colombia, where thousands of people are expected, and there will also be mobilizations in the rest of the country.

Petro’s ministers have been in charge of promoting the call, for which there have been mentions of alleged government aid to popular organizations to join the demonstrations, which the Executive denies.

Close to regional elections

The opposition has criticized the marches because they occur one month before the October 29 regional elections in which mayors, governors, municipal councils, and regional assemblies will be elected.

According to political forces opposed to Petro, the president knows that he might suffer setbacks after the elections in several important cities and departments, including Bogotá, Medellín, and Barranquilla, and they accuse him of organizing the demonstrations to influence the electorate.

The great mobilization “For peace, for life, for social justice” is promoted, according to the Government, by more than 50 social organizations from all over the country, labor unions, and ethnic and indigenous groups that support the social reforms promoted by Petro, especially those on health, labor, pensions, and education, which are stalled in Congress.

In response to this call, a caravan of buses full of indigenous people arrived in Bogotá on Monday. The communities in addition to participating in the demostration, will hold their National Indigenous Congress on September 28 and 29 and hope to meet with Petro on Thursday.

The Minister of the Interior, Luis Fernando Velasco, said that “some support” will be “provided” to the indigenous, especially in transportation and other expenses, in accordance “with a provision of the Constitutional Court” that orders the Executive to help in the organization of the events of these communities.

Velasco assured that the other sectors -teachers, unions, social organizations, etc., will not receive any help from the Government.

The minister also denied messages circulating in social networks, according to which the Ministry of Interior has offered Internet to community associations of several municipalities of the department of Cundinamarca in exchange for going to the demonstrations.

“We have nothing to do with that call, and it seems irresponsible if someone is doing it,” he said.

However, he said that the Government “sees with good eyes the social mobilization” in support of peace and change policies.

The Attorney General, Margarita Cabello, called Minister Velasco to guarantee that the marches called by the Government “do not become platforms to promote any candidacy.”

Musical show and speech

For the demonstrators arriving at the Plaza de Bolivar, the Government organized a concert by groups such as Aterciopelados, La 33, La Pacifican Power, Rap Bang Club, Plu con Plá, Lucía Vargas, Ácido Pantera, Raúl Numerao and Pasajeros, among others.

President Petro is expected to give a speech at the end of the concert.

The vice minister for Social Dialogue, Lilia Solano, assured that popular pressure is important for Congress to approve Petro’s reforms.

“Congress is the one that makes the laws, but we all have to push forward these reforms by expressing our support for these initiatives,” she said. EFE


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