On July 20, new members of the Colombian legislature were sworn in, in which the “Pacto Histórico” (Historical Pact) faction, made up of almost 70 members from various left-wing and progressive parties, will play a key role. .
This is the first time a block of this size is represented in a parliamentary plenary session to represent the demands of the Colombian people.
In such a scenario, President Gustavo Petro managed to form a coalition system to pass important legislative initiatives such as tax reform, land reform, political and electoral reform, budget 2023 and development plan for 2022-2026.
As with all political coalitions, it is a complex system of reciprocity that changes according to the interests of the actors involved; these are temporary and fluid alliances, geared towards very punctual needs, such as the ones mentioned above.
The tax reform will be progressive, targeting 4,000 multi-millionaires and another 45,000 wealthy individuals. This should generate revenues of around $ 15 billion, or over 50 trillion Colombian pesos. The budget for 2023 will be almost 400 trillion pesos ($ 100 billion), which will have to be balanced with the development plan of the new government. This is to break the rigidity of the current fiscal model, constrained by neoliberal fiscal rules, the recently adopted medium-term fiscal framework, and last-minute abuses by the outgoing sinister Iván Duque government. This government is involved in massive corruption deals with peacetime funds, oil, coal, and water resources.
Due to the upcoming development plan of the government of Gustavo Petro, the debate and decisions taken should relate to the basic axes of the Pacto Histórico program, which includes the following aspects:
1. Promote a strategy for the development of productive forces and “non-financial capitalism” (of the 1922 Leninist New Economic Policy type) geared towards economic growth with the aim of redistributing wealth through land reform; also proposes the intensification of agroecological production, the development of the domestic fertilizer and fertilizer industry, and plans for agri-food regions. The strategy also uses tariffs on agricultural products and inputs to increase domestic production.
2. Transformation towards a more productive, innovative and CO2 neutral industry. Protecting the domestic industry through customs. Create productivity alliances between private companies, popular economy sectors, civil society and the state, and develop value chains.
3. Renegotiation of free trade agreements.
4. Establishment of the Ministry of Industry.
5. Establishment of an electric rail network based on the main world trade transport routes. Restoration of the sustainable navigability of rivers. Increasing airport capacity. Construction of new rural roads in cooperation with municipalities and their grassroots organizations.
6. Energy transformation. Transition from a coal and oil based system to a renewable energy one. The pursuit of a system focused on agricultural productivity. Termination of crude oil exploration contracts. Model of the gradual reduction of the extractivist model. Create a fund for this transformation with funding from royalties and “tax credits” from the hydrocarbon, coal and hydropower sectors. Continue to operate Ecopetrol for at least another 15 years to continue to provide the fuels needed by the country and to contribute inputs and derivatives to petrochemicals and research, and to pay taxes, royalties and dividends to the state. Establishment of the National Clean Energy Institute. No further construction of reservoirs for hydropower plants. Prohibition of prospecting and exploitation of unconventional deposits and suspension of pilot fracking and offshore development projects. Mining law reform.
7. Land reform, which will include the maintenance of the multi-purpose cadastre, the strengthening of the land fund, the elaboration of development plans with a territorial approach and other instruments created by the peace agreement. Rural residents must be part of the new “productive economy” model and implement programs that “guarantee a safe income”. Pacto Histórico proposes a change for rural areas. Stop importing the millions of tons of food and raw materials that Colombia can and should produce for itself. The goal is to lower food prices. In the economically productive country model that Gustavo Petro dreams of, “food sovereignty” is another fundamental goal.
8. The policy of living space, public services and orderly housing is based on water. Adjustment of spatial planning standards. Revise the rules on social housing (VIS) and priority housing (VIP) and develop a comprehensive program for the construction and improvement of rural and urban housing.
9. Provide drinking water supply throughout the country and a minimum amount of water necessary for life.
10. Tourism will be the hero of economic transformation. Social, cultural, health and environmental projects are funded.
11. Transformation through work promotes their dignity and decency. Advocate a fair increase in the minimum wage in relation to the actual contribution of workers. Recognition of the social work of the million young people whose basic salary depends on their entry into the education system. Another important pillar is the guaranteed employment system. The main suggestion is that the state acts as an employer of last resort.
12. Pensions. Transition to a unified, mostly public, complementary but uncompetitive retirement system, guaranteeing a shift away from business, enhancing wages, while private funds exist but are not as topical as they are today. To this end, the government establishes a universal public system based on three pillars: i) Solidarity Basic Services, which guarantees a non-contributory retirement loan equal to half of the minimum wage for older people who do not receive a pension; ii) a contributory scheme where all persons earning between one and four minimum wages must contribute to the allowances and only those earning more can choose where to pay the excess; iii) Voluntary saving as a supplement for those who want it. It also ensures that the acquired rights will not be violated and that the retirement age will not be increased.
13. Guarantee of the basic right to health for the entire population, without economic, geographic and socio-cultural restrictions. A model of preventive medicine supported by a network of healthcare providers and composed of medical teams covering the entire territory of the country.
14. Free, high-quality public education for children and youth. The gradual introduction of high-quality free public education at technical and university levels at all levels.
15. Culture. It is to create a work statute for culture and art and revitalize 46 historical centers in the country.
16. Repatriation of the State Police to the Ministry of the Interior or Justice and dissolution of Esmad. No compulsory military service. Reorganization of the National Protection Unit (UNP). Shifting the approach from security based on the construction and elimination of the internal enemy to humanitarian security based on equality, protection of national sovereignty, security of citizens and protection of life and nature. Cleanse the armed forces of neo-Nazi elements. Demilitarization of social life with the armed forces for peace.
17. Reform of the judiciary based on judicial independence, meritocracy and administrative and budgetary autonomy, election of the Public Prosecutor General independent of the national government; Reform and partial abolition of the institution of the General Inspector of the People and reform of the Chamber of Control, abolition of double posts and reduction of national and territorial salaries; Establish a justice system geared towards redress in various areas, with an emphasis on the recognition of victims and the accountability of perpetrators.
18. Reactivation of the National Safety Guarantee Commission for Social Leaders and Former Farc Fighters; Opening space for court hearings and collective submission to the judiciary. Develop a national policy for peace, reconciliation and coexistence in cooperation with the National Peace Council and promote victim participation in overall policy making. Comply with peace agreements signed between the government and the FARC with effective implementation and financing. Reducing the rates of violence and a real guarantee of human rights. The goal is to achieve a comprehensive and final peace that involves negotiations with the ELN; this intention coincides, on the one hand, with the insurgent group’s call to create mechanisms and conditions for the participation of civil society in defining and implementing an agreement on the peace process, and on the other hand, with Petr’s statement about promoting a “binding regional dialogue” during his administration, where solutions to problems they become the “norm”.
19. International Relations: Establish and strengthen dialogue with neighboring countries and normalize relations with the Venezuelan Government. Promote Colombia’s political, economic, commercial, social and cultural integration with Patria Grande: Latin America and the Caribbean.
In summary, it is about organizing the foundations of an anti-neoliberal model that goes beyond the rampant and violent capitalism that prevails in Colombia.
In this sense, it is proposed in the first weeks of government to adopt an action plan that will directly intervene in the most critical social and political situations in the country, such as hunger for millions of people, unemployment, corruption and by the armed forces of the Force.
Gustavo Petro’s development plan must include the five pacts supported by the Colombians in the last presidential election. These are:
Pact to restore work and productivity through environmental sustainability.
Pact for a decent living: social security and opportunities
Pact for nature and the fight against the climate crisis.
Pact for Life, Peace and Democracy.
Pacts of recognition.