President of Colombia Gustavo Petro has called for marches on September 27 to support the reforms his government is pursuing in the legislative chambers. So far, his significant reform projects in structural sectors such as fiscal, education, health, pensions, and labor have been stalled in the necessary parliamentary negotiations to seek support outside the government coalition. In 13 months of his presidency, only the scaled-down fiscal reform has been approved by Congress.
The marches were announced by the Minister of Labor, Gloria Inés Ramírez, precisely when the labor reform being advanced by her ministry is undergoing its second attempt for approval. Gustavo Petro confirmed the call to mobilize citizens in the streets to express support for these reforms and set the date for September 27 to fill the streets with expressions of support for the government’s intentions.
President Petro’s administration feels the need to pass the reforms promised by his government. However, the difficulties in gathering the required parliamentary support are demonstrating the challenge of building consensus for the government.
In fact, the failed attempt at healthcare reform cost Minister Carolina Corcho her position and led to the breakup of the government coalition. Some voices claimed that the president gave his ministers an “ultimatum” a few weeks ago, urging them to achieve tangible results in their ministries. The president placed particular emphasis on the proposed reforms.
Call for a “grand mobilization” from New York
Gustavo Petro made the call for citizen mobilization from New York. The Colombian president is in the North American city to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly. From there, he issued an invitation to his supporters to organize “a grand mobilization” through his social media accounts, along with a video of an environmental demonstration in the United States.
“Here in New York, tens of thousands of people are demanding faster decarbonization of the economy. These are the great mobilizations of humanity for Life. In Colombia, we will march for Life on September 27,” Gustavo Petro wrote.
CUT Supports the Marches
Minister of Labor Gloria Inés Ramírez invited workers’ unions to march in favor of “decent work” as guaranteed by her labor reform proposal. She also extended the invitation to students to join the march “for education as a right.”
The minister made the call during an event recognizing the labor movement held on September 14. In her speech, Ramírez added that the march across the country would be “filled with enthusiasm for life, for decent and dignified work,” a statement that received enthusiastic applause from attendees.
The Central Union of Workers (CUT), Colombia’s largest workers’ union, quickly embraced Minister Ramírez’s invitation. The president of the union called for creative participation in the September 27 marches “to show support for social reforms.”
Recognition of the Labor Movement
On March 24, President Petro recognized the labor movement as “a collective that is part of the civilian population that suffered the brunt of the armed conflict under the gaze of previous governments.” During the event, which acknowledged the work of unions, the Minister of Labor stated that the day represented “a day of social, political, and life justice.”
The recognition process began in 2016, during President Iván Duque’s term, but according to Minister Ramírez, “there was no willingness from governments to embark on the path of reparations.”
According to official data, between 1971 and 2023, the labor movement witnessed the deaths of 3,323 union members as victims of the internal conflict. Additionally, 449 individuals affiliated with the movement suffered attacks, 254 were forcibly disappeared, 7,884 received death threats, and 1,987 experienced forced displacement.