(CNN Spanish) – The countdown to the second round in Colombia has already begun. In a few days, the new president will be recognized: whether it’s the leftist former mayor of Bogota, Gustavo Petro, or the controversial former mayor of Bucaramanga, Rodolfo Hernandez, as the economy slides to center stage.
On Sunday (June 19th), Colombians will vote between two options that bypassed the centrist candidates in the first round. Whatever the winner will mean a change in political direction in Colombia in recent years.
In this context, Petro, who is running for the third time in the presidential elections and who has positioned himself as the representative of the left and progressive in the country, will try to impose himself on Hernandez, the contested candidate, who is sometimes described as a Colombian “trump card”.
The importance of economy in the campaign
Pietro was the most voted candidate in the first round, but other candidates who fell by the wayside, such as Federico “Fico” Gutierrez, had already expressed their support for Hernandez. One of the biggest obstacles he faces is the resulting mistrust of his platform in terms of economic policy.
In an interview with CNN, journalist Juanita Leon explained that proposals for tax reform and changes to the health and pension system “are issues where investors are raising a lot of concern.” From the sidewalk opposite Petro He criticized – far from his second-round opponent – the economic model in his government plan: “It would be dangerous,” Gutierrez said. for the economy” And Sergio Fajardo says that his programs “impossible“. In an interview with El Tiempo, the president of the National Association of Colombian Entrepreneurs (ANDI), Bruce Mac Master, stated that Petro’s financial proposal is “not feasible”. and that the proposed reform of the energy matrix would implicate Colombia in “exchange rate, exchange balance, inflation, poverty, and employment.” In the same way, it has received criticism from the National Federation of Coal Producers and the Colombian Association of Petroleum Engineers.
Jorge Andres Hernandez, Bogota-based political analyst and author of the Política y Tabú podcast, He said “Colombia is a very conservative country where in some way there is a collective idea that big change is a leap in the abyss,” she told CNN.
What exactly does Petro suggest in terms of economy, labor, and taxation?
“Colombia is a very conservative country where in some way there is a collective idea that big change is a leap into the abyss,” Jorge Andres Hernandez, a Bogotá-based political analyst and author of the podcast Política y Tabú, told CNN.
Petro has been accused by his critics of populist s authoritarianAnd in the 2018 campaign – in which he lost in the second round against incumbent president, Evan Duque – since then Democratic Center Party They said Colombia would become Venezuela if the candidate won.
In fact, the most extreme sections of the Colombian right tend to describe him as communist, despite the fact that Pietro identifies himself as a progressive leftist.
Jorge Andres Hernandez said: “He generates deep, mixed feelings: there are people who adore him to death, and who adore him, and there are people who hate him with all their hearts.”
But what exactly is Petro suggesting in terms of economy, employment, and taxation?
Change in the energy matrix, “economy for life”, and agrarian reform
Petro proposes moving energy from the oil and coal-based matrix to renewable energies.
Petro and Francia Marquez want to put an end to extractivism (through “gradual de-escalation”), and say they will ban exploration and exploitation of unconventional deposits, halt pilot fracking projects and develop offshore deposits, give nothing new licenses for hydrocarbon exploration and will not allow large-scale mining Wide.
The program notes that state oil company Ecopetrol “will remain a legacy for Colombians to secure the fuel the country needs for the next 15 years.”
In his government programme, Petro places his economic policies under the slogan “Economy for Life”, which in turn falls under the umbrella of the goal of “Colombia, Power for Life”.
“This means moving towards a productive economy based on respect for nature, leaving behind the exclusive reliance on the extractive model and democratizing the use of clean energy,” the document says.
Among these measures, Pietro proposes “agrarian and hydrological reform” to advance the equality of land ownership and use, and to guarantee the “right to land for rural families”.
To achieve this agrarian reform, the “multiple funds unproductive on fertile land” will be discouraged through taxes.
Its goal is to discourage large estates.
“We will propose to the owner of the large unproductive property to revitalize the production of his land, pay the corresponding taxes, or eventually sell it to the state to turn it over to the rural communities,” the program says.
Petro insisted in recent statements, as evidenced in this video, that they would not expropriate property but would democratize it. “I have never uttered a word forfeiture,” he said in part of a heated discussion with one of his chief opponents, “Fico” Gutierrez. In April, Petro and Marquez signed a document in a notary’s office in which they committed themselves Not confiscated.
Petro also suggests countering a “democratic and responsible industrialization process” through “a smart tariff policy that stimulates life, value-added generation, competitiveness, and national industry,” aiming to increase employment and income.
This tariff policy consists, specifically, of lowering tariffs on inputs, goods and services which satisfy the above conditions, while it will be increased to those affecting those value added, as a ‘trade defense mechanism’ against ‘unfair competition’. With subsidized imports.
Thus, Petro proposes to review free trade agreements, intellectual property rights policy and current conditions towards foreign investment, to protect the Colombian national industry.
The Petro government’s program aims to guarantee the “fundamental right to decent and decent work” and defend a minimum wage “consistent with constitutional mandates under the exemplary social rights framework of a social state of law”.
The most realistic policy in this area is the “secured employment” policy, and it will focus on unemployment benefits and work flexibility.
“The state will act as an employer of last resort, providing employment opportunities for those who can and want to work, but cannot find work in the private sector, benefiting primarily the unemployed, youth, women and workers in the informal sector, people’s economies and territories,” the text reads. .
In addition, contracts for small businesses will be concluded in cities and neighborhoods, using private labor, and priority will be given to increasing the capacity of small and medium businesses.
At the heart of Petro’s proposed economic policies is a promise to move toward “tax justice with progressive and fair taxation,” combating evasion and evasion, and removing tax benefits.
Thus, fiscal space is expected to increase by an additional 5.5% of Colombia’s GDP
Among these measures, it is suggested that Ecopetrol contribute to the state’s taxation and transition towards clean energy.
The taxes will also be used to support a “universal, universal” health system in which access and quality of care does not depend on ability to pay, according to the program.
Additionally, Petro agrees not to extend value-added tax to the family shopping cart and promote “health taxes” to improve access to food and beverages, both in terms of quantity and nutritional quality.
With information from Angela Reyes, Florencia Trucco, Melissa Velasquez, Juan Carlos Lopez and German Badinger.
Meet the candidates: