News Latin America Petro insists on bringing power to the regions during his first message...

Petro insists on bringing power to the regions during his first message to the nation as president

Gustavo Petro addressed the nation for the first time this Wednesday, just over a month after his arrival at the presidency. Petro has emphasized his interest in promoting the regions of Colombia, often put in the background in a very centralist country like this, where Bogota brings together all the political power and most of the economic power. He won the elections against the Bogota establishment, which saw him as a threat to the status quo after decades of conservative leaders. “This is a government for the people, for everyone, no matter what corner of Colombia they were born in, what their last name is or who they voted for (). We began to tour the country, to go where the governments had never been, ”he said on television.

Throughout the speech he put a lot of emphasis on decentralization and the popular, in a speech reminiscent in some points of that of Alvaro Uribe, his great political enemy. In his time, Uribe created the community councils that made him enormously popular. He went every weekend to a different place in the country with his officials, whom he scolded and complained about in front of the people. Petro is now going to launch talks in 50 territories into which he divided the country. In them he has involved all the members of his Government, who will travel to listen to the citizens in a kind of participatory and direct democracy. Each region will have a minister in charge, with the task of specifying the problems in a document to build the National Development Plan, the navigation chart that the country has every four years, and later to solve them.

In reality, this project connects with its objective: total peace. That is, to turn Colombia into a country without armed groups, neither guerrillas nor criminals, or both. Symbolically, the first regional dialogue will begin this Friday in Turbaco, on the Caribbean Coast and the only municipality in Colombia whose mayor is a former FARC combatant, Julian Conrado. To do this, in addition to reaching agreements and bringing drug lords to justice, it aims to promote the development of the territories, which have the highest levels of poverty in the country. A map can be drawn in which it is clear that one thing and another are related. “A peace built on strong foundations of social justice, economic and environmental justice. On these axes we will build a new country for all”, he listed.

Petro has already started talks with the ELN, the last active guerrilla group. And he has asked President Nicolas Maduro to be the guarantor of those dialogues that do not seem easy. In turn, he intends that the regions, the most benefited by the FARC peace agreement due to the reduction in homicides, achieve an improvement in the quality of life that drives away violence. “Access to drinking water, energy tariffs and climate change and how we prevent its effects on our cities of human security, territorial planning towards total peace, our fight against hunger, access to health, energy transition, and many other issues will be at the center of this joint dialogue”, he added.

In this ambitious plan -some believe that it cannot be carried out in four years- he wants to involve the citizens. “Total peace is a task for everyone. Colombia will not be a passive society in the face of historical injustice, the entire citizenry must be an active part of the construction of a different country. Here you have the opportunity to be part of the change,” he said in the recorded message. He ended with an appeal to those who voted massively for him on the coasts, one of the keys to his victory: “Let millions appropriate their territory, let millions speak in multicolored democracy. That millions make the law of the National Development Plan. May millions be the architects of peace”.

The regional dialogues serve to add a local perspective to peace, but at the same time they promote the creation of political and electoral networks for the 2023 elections. Petro, at this moment, is the most powerful political brand in the country and, unless its Government enters into a crisis of deep credibility, it has enough electoral pull to place related governors and mayors in some areas of the country. In the campaign he already developed a similar program, peter listen, in which for several hours he listened to the demands of the citizens. Those who have known him all his life were amused to see him with a pencil in his hand listening to people, when he has always had a reputation for better mastering the art of speaking than listening. This time he wants to do it with an entire country at once. “We want to meet you, listen to you during these sessions and, together, transform this country into the Colombia powerhouse of life,” he said.

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Source: EL PAIS



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