Petro opened the door to the Constituent Assembly due to obstruction in his reforms

When Gustavo Petro was a candidate for president, one of the fears his opponents associated with his eventual victory was that, once in power, he would call for a National Constituent Assembly that would make him leader of the state beyond 2026. Will allow to keep. Both before and after winning the presidential election, the current President of Colombia has reiterated that he will leave power as soon as his four-year term ends. However, this Friday, the President has revived old fears by mentioning the possibility of convening a Constituent Assembly given the stagnation of his reforms in the Congress of the Republic.

Petro mentioned this idea in a speech in Cali, the main city of the Colombian Pacific region and to which he largely attributes the fact of being president today, which was one of the major centers of national strike in 2021 as a springboard Will work as. To reach Nariño Palace. The President stated this in a simple way, away from the complexity that this type of reform involves: “If this possibility of a popularly elected government in the middle of this state and under the Constitution of Colombia cannot implement the Constitution Because they surround it if it is not to be implemented and they block it, Colombia will have to go to the National Constituent Assembly.” He later said: “The National Constituent Assembly must change the institutions so that they comply with the people with their mandate of peace and justice, which is easier to achieve in Colombia.”

The president’s idea is a response to the repeated failures of his core reforms in Congress. The most recent of them was that of health, which was on the verge of being rejected this week, after eight senators of the Seventh Commission of that Corporation signed a motion to kill the bill, and in a statement they assured that they would do so. will not do. They will not change their vote for any reason nor support any alternative proposal. Faced with this situation, the government was left with no major choice: either withdraw the reform, or wait for it to fail in the next vote in the legislature, or see how time passes without voting on it. .

A number of political leaders reacted to Petro’s statements, calling him “dictatorist” and reminding him of past promises he had made – including that he would not call a Constituent Assembly – when he was a presidential candidate in 2018, and the Green Alliance. campaign to formalize his association with them., signed a decalogue of promises inscribed on marble tablets, one of which was his own. Former centrist presidential candidate Sergio Fajardo wrote in X: “At last he announced what was always suspected, his willingness to convene a Constituent Assembly! If they don’t do what I, the expression of the people, want, we change the Constitution.” Green Alliance co-chair Antonio Navarro, once close to Petro and a former terrorist of the president’s own guerrilla, the M-19, rejected the idea: “A new National Constituent Assembly does not seem necessary at this time. “

Criticism also came from the shores of Uribism, as could be expected from the main force of the right. Senator María Fernanda Cabal, one of the government’s most outspoken opponents in Congress, wrote: “Petro is a liar and a radical leftist: yesterday he refused plans for a Constituent Assembly; Today he has confessed his intention to force it, promoting reforms that will bring only misery and destruction.” His colleague and co-partisan Paloma Valencia also said: ”This government’s spirit of destruction knows no bounds. . Now President Petro has threatened to call a Constituent Assembly if the reforms are not approved. Neither the Constitution, nor the destruction.”

Because of the procedures established by the Fundamental Law, the process leading up to the Constituent Assembly is very difficult. One of them points out that the same Congress that Petro criticizes for not promoting his reforms approves the call and that at least a third of eligible voters support it. If all of the above happens, the country will face an uncertain scenario in which members of the Assembly will have to be elected by popular vote. The possibility of reforming the state is then presented as a double-edged sword, in this case for President Petro: a candidate like him could win and have a scenario that is favorable to him, but the opposite could also happen. It is not in vain that the idea of ​​a Constituent Assembly is often compared to a leap into the void.

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Petro is not the first political leader to mention the possibility of a Constituent Assembly that would replace the Magna Carta that has ruled Colombia since 1991. In 2016, following a peace agreement between the government of former President Álvaro Uribe, Juan Manuel Santos, and the now-extinct FARC guerrilla, it was proposed as a way to review and change everything that had happened, with the headquarters of the negotiations in Havana. There was agreement. Several members of his party have on other occasions proposed it as a tool to reform justice. One of those times was in 2020, when the Supreme Court of Justice ordered the house arrest of the former President in bribery and witness tampering cases.

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