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Colombia: the reforms promoted by Gustavo Petro caused the first cabinet crisis


The Minister of Education, Alejandro Gaviria, critical of the changes in Health, and the heads of Culture and Sports were dismissed.

The social reforms of the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, have detonated, before completing seven months in the Government,

the first crisis of his cabinet

from which the Minister of Education, Alejandro Gaviria, was dismissed, critical of the proposed changes to health, and with him, the headlines of Culture and Sport.

The changes were announced last night by the president in a speech in which he stated that his government "will not give up on reforms to

improve health, pensions, and fair working conditions

for all Colombians."

In this sense, the replacement of Gaviria by Aurora Vergara, one of his vice ministers of Education, was not surprising since the official, who was Minister of Health for seven years in the Government of Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018), is a critic

of industry reform.

"It is very difficult for a minister to try to maintain a somewhat dissident line in the Government; Alejandro Gaviria had reservations about the Health reform because he had been Minister of Health before, he made the bet of entering the Government and trying to

process those differences to seek consensus

and moderate this reform in a certain way, but it did not work," Yann Basset, a professor of Political Science at the Universidad del Rosario, told EFE.

Gustavo Petro, President of Colombia.

AFP photo

strengthened female ministers

In the speech in which Petro announced the ministerial changes, the Ministers of Health, Carolina Corcho, and Labor, Gloria Ramírez, appeared in the front row next to him, promoters

of the reforms that the president considers to be a priority

, a sign that both won this first blow to the critics of the changes.

"If one sees the image from last night, with the two ministers in charge of the reforms next to the president, yes, it

is symbolically an endorsement for them

," says Basset, who nevertheless clarifies that earlier Petro met with heads of allied parties to gather legislative support for the reforms and expressed willingness to negotiate.

The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, announced on Monday the departure of the Ministers of Education, Alejandro Gaviria;

Culture, Patricia Ariza, and Sport, María Isabel Urrutia.

Photo EFE

The president said that the government is "at a decisive moment for our reforms" and

will continue "seeking consensus

and agreements to consolidate and deepen" those changes.

"We have agreed that the presidents of the parties will bring us proposals for the articles they consider should be modified," added Petro yesterday.

The president clarified that neither the possible incorporation of proposals from allied parties into the health reform nor the ministerial changes

will lead to charges for those who support him in Congress.

"Ministerial changes do not depend on the meeting with the presidents of the parties," the president wrote on Twitter, who has dedicated this Tuesday to meetings with a commission for attention to war veterans and other internal affairs.

The Health Controversy

The health reform has caused

a deep controversy in the country

because, according to its critics, it will jeopardize the sustainability of a system that, despite its numerous flaws, works, but Minister Corcho said over the weekend in an interview with EFE that it is to be expected that the bill presented to Congress will undergo modifications.

"The bills are always modified in Congress (...) we are obviously aware that in the diverse democratic debate in the Congress of the Republic, modifications will arise, like all bills, as happened with the tax reform and

as it happens permanently with the projects that the Government presents,"

he said.

If the reasons for the change of the Minister of Education are clear, that of the head of Culture, Patricia Ariza, and of Sport, María Isabel Urrutia, are not so clear and those affected assure that they found out about their dismissal minutes before the


and that Petro did not even communicate with them.

The replacement of both would be due to

alleged complaints about their lack of management

, but in no case is the replacement to make way for new allies in the legislative process of the reforms.

"These changes have nothing to do with the reform," says Basset, who assures that among the theses being considered is that the president "took the opportunity to change these ministers because he considered, for various reasons, that they were not giving the results that

were wanted

," Basset said.

Urrutia's substitute in Sports will be Astrid Rodríguez, while Ariza's in Culture will be, as manager, Ignacio Zorro, who according to local media, is a trusted man

of the first lady, Verónica Alcocer

, and a piano teacher at a of the president's daughters.

With this first ministerial crisis, Petro seems to have sent messages of how far he is willing to go for his reforms, that he will not allow "friendly fire" in his cabinet and that his closest collaborators have to show more results.

Source: EFE


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All news articles on 2023-02-28

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