LatinNews Daily - 02 August 2022

COLOMBIA: Transition report outlines early priorities for Petro

On 1 August, the transition team of Colombia’s president-elect, Gustavo Petro, presented a report detailing its assessment of the state of the country at the end of President Iván Duque’s term and the early priorities of Petro’s incoming government, which takes power on 7 August.


The report outlines Petro’s likely priorities during his first months in office, highlighting what the transition committee views as failures by the Duque administration, as well as some policies that it recommends continuing. The report did not provide further information on Petro’s planned tax reform, one of his flagship policies, but it did underline the emphasis that will be given to environmental policies and the implementation of the 2016 peace accords with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc) guerrilla group. Perhaps the most radical change of direction from the outgoing Duque administration, as outlined in the report, is a proposed moratorium on new mining contracts and the widely-expected commencement of negotiations with the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) guerrilla group.

  • The report, compiled over the previous five weeks, outlines ‘critical alerts’, strategic recommendations, proposals for Petro’s first 100 days in office, and proposed legal reforms.
  • The committee recommended the continuation of several policies from the Duque era, including the ‘Mi Casa Ya’ mortgage scheme for low earners; cash transfers for Colombians living in poverty; free public university tuition for students in low income brackets; and the coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccination programme.
  • The report also advised the incoming government to repeal a number of policies. These include the granting of pilot fracking licences; the forced eradication of illegal crops, which it argues contravenes the terms of the peace accords; and Duque’s flagship ‘orange economy’ programme, which aimed to revitalise the creative and cultural sectors, but which the report’s authors claim has had little impact.
  • The recommendations for Petro’s first 100 days in office are ambitious. In terms of peace and security, the report urges the commencement of talks with the ELN; the provision of funds for the full implementation of the 2016 peace accords; and the creation of an emergency plan to protect social leaders, human rights defenders and demobilised ex-combatants.
  • It recommends that Petro swiftly declare a moratorium on new mining concessions while the new government verifies the sector’s compliance with regulations and studies Colombia’s potential to produce “strategic minerals for the energy transition.”
  • The report also proposes anti-corruption measures, including the creation of a United Nations-backed commission against impunity in Colombia, and the publishing of a register of lobbyists.
  • ‘Critical alerts’ were flagged regarding the finances of the social security department (DPS), the public health system (EPS), and the national fund for educational loans (FNPSM), among others. Specifically, the report highlights the recommendation in the outgoing government’s advisory budget for Col$10trn (US$2.34bn) in cuts to the DPS, which saw its funding drastically increase during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, and the EPS’s Col$20trn in accumulated debts.
  • Renewed dialogue with the ELN seems ever more likely. Yesterday, the guerrilla group’s leader, Eliécer Erlinto Chamorro (‘Antonio García’), said that there was “mutual interest in resuming conversations” once Petro’s government takes power, echoing previous statements by the group expressing its willingness to negotiate with Petro.

Looking Ahead: Other planned reforms outlined in the report, particularly the proposed moratorium on mining, will test the broad alliance that Petro has forged in the legislature. His planned tax reform, details of which were not included in the report, is also likely to be partially opposed by more traditional and conservative parties.

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