In an exclusive dialogue with Infobae Colombia, one of the main teammates of the President of the Republic gave his opinion on some of the most conjunctural issues of the moment and made a “ mea culpa” of what has happened since last August 7, when Gustavo Petro assumed the reins of the nation
Alfonso Prada, Minister of the Interior in the government of President Petro, and one of the greatest allies of the Head of State, gave a reading of the first 100 days of the Government at the helm of Colombia. Photo: Infobae.
Total Peace, the reopening of the border with Venezuela, the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with that country and the alarming fluctuations in the price of the dollar are some of the issues that have characterized to the current Government of Colombialed by the first president of the left in the country, Gustavo Petro Urrego. How do they see it from the Executive? Minister Alfonso Prada, who heads the Ministry of the Interior, came forward in Infobae Colombia and gave a reading of the first 100 days. This is the interview:
— Infobae: November 15 marks the first 100 days of President Petro's government. How do you evaluate this time?
— Alfonso Prada: The first thing to say is that 100 days to evaluate a government is really a very short time. The perspective of a government of change, like Gustavo Petro's, is a perspective that requires a legislative and administrative structure and a series of decisions that transcend 100 days. In such a way that what I can tell you is that it is the beginning of a process that we hope will slowly consolidate over time and that can be translated into public opinion.
Looking a little at a survey that was published today (Friday, November 11), the country is increasingly understanding the message of change and recognizes an attitude of transparency and seriousness from a government committed to its program, committed to Colombians, not only those who voted, but with all Colombians. A government that seeks a profound change with the achievement of total peace, understanding that total peace is achieved with social and tariff justice.
—What do you think have been the main challenges you have faced in these 100 days?
— In the Ministry of Politics (the Ministry of the Interior), in charge of relations with Congress, the first challenge we have faced strongly is to make progress in the processing and approval of legal norms, laws and constitutional reforms change. To this extent, I can highlight that we have achieved the approval of the Escazú Agreement, the approval of the modification of Law 418 of 1997, which makes total peace a State policy; We also obtained the approval of the Economic Cooperation Agreement with Spain, the approval of the biannual budget for royalties and the General Budget of the Nation; We are hours away, I would say, from the approval of the tax reform and, simultaneously, we promote the constitutional reforms of political reform, agrarian jurisdiction and the peasant as a subject of rights. We have already presented two additional projects: the Electoral Code and the Ministry of Equality, which, as we are already ending the year, have given them an urgent message to see if we can, between now and December, have eight legislative initiatives and three constitutional reforms approved.
Another, even more important challenge that we have faced and that President Gustavo Petro has given us is the protection of the lives of the social leaders and ex-combatants who signed the peace agreement in the territory. To this end, we designed, together with the Human Rights platforms and the Peace Commission of Congress, a shock plan that includes 49 measures that we are implementing in the territory, which has led us to install 177 Unified Command Posts for Life, which in the month of September it allowed us to reduce the murder of social leaders by 46% and that in these first 100 days it is allowing us to give a very important figure in the reduction of murders of ex-combatants who signed the Peace agreement by 58.4%.
The 100 days of President Petro: debate of the good, the bad and the ugly. Photo: Infobae.
— Infobae: Minister, and when the Government and Congress leave the territories where the PMUs are installed, what is done to avoid more violence?
— The mere installation of PMUs in the territory is not that it is useless; On the contrary, you manage to bring the Armed Forces, the National Protection Unit, the Nation's Attorney General's Office, the Ombudsman's Office and manage to have all the reality of protection of life, responding to early alerts from the Ombudsman's Office, listening to social leaders and, together with the Police, the Armed Forces, the mayors and social leaders, we announce the 49 shock measures
Together with the director of the National Risk Unit, in those same Unified Command Posts, we provide care to people with some level of risk to see how to speed up urgent measures or analyze collective protection measures with the existing legislation in this regard; The measures that have been imposed or have been ordered to be adopted by the Inter-American Justice System or the Constitutional Court itself in some events are also reviewed, so that they are effectively implemented in the territory in the face of the threats reported, not only the leaders, but communities through confinement. It is really an arsenal of measures and institutions that, articulated, make a better presence in the municipalities.
— You mentioned political reform as one of the projects that the Government has, what are you betting on and what are the main points?
— Basically, the political reform aims to deepen democracy and improve the electoral and party system in Colombia. We have proposed, as an important measure, that elections to public corporations be made through closed lists, with gender parity, with alternation between women and men, which will allow democratizing and increasing the legitimacy of the representation of Colombians in corporations. public, both councils and assemblies, as well as the Congress of the Republic.
We have proposed in the Congress of the Republic that the financing of the campaigns be completely state-owned to generate equal conditions in the competition, which is disturbed by money from corruption or money from the mafia, which also privilegedly alter some candidacies that achieve favor through these monies. Public financing could be a measure that allows us to test how to control corruption in politics. These measures, which we are proposing, are being studied by Congress and they will have the floor. We are only in the second of four debates.
The Minister of the Interior Alfonso Prada highlighted several of the achievements of the Petro Government. File.
I— One of the most commented articles of the political reform is that of extending the term of the President and the congressmen for another year. What is the government trying to do by extending the terms?
— That's not true.
— The speakers said so. Does it mean, then, that the Government completely discards that article in the project?
— No we will not. There may be some group of congressmen interested in that proposal. If they propose it, we could review it, extend the terms by one year and standardize them with the term of the President of the Republic, but when the issue was raised in the First Committee of the Senate, on behalf of the President and the Government, we expressed that any type of modification to the electoral calendar, as a one-year extension or as the homologation of periods with the presidential term, it would have to be from the next governments and not from this one. Therefore, an extension of the current mandate is completely and utterly ruled out.
— Perfect. After these 100 days of government, also in what aspects do you think they can improve? In what did they mess it up?
— It is a analysis that you should do better for me. We are human and we make mistakes. We give papaya from time to time and the idea in a government is not to give papaya, to do things well and everything we can do to always improve, we are willing to do it well.
— And in what way have they given papaya, according to your concept?
— (Laughter) One gives papaya all the time, as a human being. Sometimes we are late for an event, sometimes we have to improve the texts that we bring to Congress because they can be improved, sometimes a minister gives a statement, another gives another. These are normal human errors.
— You, who are the bridge between the Executive and Congress, how has your relationship with the opposition been?
(— My relationship with the opposition has only one word: respect.
My relationship with the opposition has only one word: respect, assured Minister Alfonso Prada. Photo: Presidency.
— What has it been like to mediate and expose the projects of the Petro Government before them? Has it been complicated? What attitudes has Uribism taken, for example?
— Normal, in a democratic scenario like Congress we present some proposals, they contradict those proposals; some like it, some don't. When they contradict some of our proposals, we exchange messages and democracy operates. The majority defines which of the two is right and finally what the majority defines becomes a legal norm.
— Those parties say that the opposition they make to the president Petro is “reasonable”. Do you think this has been the case in these 100 days of government?
— I respect your own definition. I am not the one to determine the degree of reasonableness with which they define themselves. I only have respect for the opposition.
— Minister, within the Historical Pact bench, which is the government coalition, there have been multiple accusations and clashes between congressmen. What has it been like to deal with that from the Executive?
— The Historical Pact bench is defined as the most disciplined, most supportive bench and coherent with the initiatives of the Government. I have nothing but admiration for them and much gratitude.
— Speaking a bit about the tax reform, is it true that there was a lobby from the churches to have the article that made them pay more taxes collapsed?
— There is a lobby from churches, unions, businessmen, and social organizations. Lobbying is an activity that I believe we are in arrears to better regulate in Colombia, because it always occurs and for all projects. You already feel that in Congress and it is a free activity, let's say, in Colombia. I think that in the future we should regulate the lobby, there are always people who are affected, for better or for worse and always seek to be heard.
Balance of the first 100 days of the Petro government.
— So, did that lobby have an effect on the collapse of additional taxes on churches?
< p class="paragraph">— I don't think so. I think that the congressmen from the moment they voted were clear about whether or not they liked the issue. The truth is that there was a strong media debate and I think that everyone was quite clear about their position on this issue.
— At the beginning of the interview, you mentioned that President Petro has a positive image in the surveys that were recently published, but we saw that the ministers do not have the same reception. Why do you think this scenario arises?
— Basically because of the level of recognition. The president was the one for whom Colombians voted, he is the great leader of the Government, the man who best and most communicates the decisions of the Government to public opinion. The whole country is, in one way or another, dependent on the president, more than on each minister. There are 18 ministers, more than 100 top-level officials of the administration and there the recognition of each one is diluting a little more. I believe that the one who has the great spokesperson, the recognition and the great responsibility before the Colombians is the president himself. So I am proud to belong to a government with a president who is valued so positively today.
— In the Invamer survey it was evidenced that Colombians do not support several of the Government's initiatives and there is still resistance to Total Peace. Do you think that when the dialogues with the ELN are resumed, this perception among the citizens will change?
— The polls are always changing, in such a way that we always have to make an effort to show much more clearly the advances of the Government, its decisions, to be better understood by Colombians. We also recognize that there is a lack of pedagogy and explanation, in an attitude of being accountable to Colombians in order to maintain a positive image or at least the affection and appreciation of people.
I am sure that there is not a Colombian in the territory who does not share with us the need to demobilize and disarm criminal organizations or guerrilla groups that are operating in the territory and that are generating insecurity and bloodshed in Colombian municipalities or in front of the Colombians. That is why I think it may be more a lack of time and a lack of knowledge and a lack of explanation of the contents of something that I am sure will be mostly supported by Colombians in the short time.
There is a lack of pedagogy and explanation about Total Peace REUTERS/Leonardo Fernández Viloria
— We saw President Petro in France, meeting with the Venezuelan opposition and representatives of the Nicolás Maduro, do you think he can influence the holding of democratic elections in Venezuela?
— President Gustavo Petro is a democrat, I am sure he will support here and democracy anywhere in the world.
— Do you think the motion of no confidence against the Minister of Mines, Irene Vélez, will prosper?
— We hope no. I believe that Irene, as Minister of Mines, has done a great job. She has never told a single lie. I think there is more lack of understanding and her government surrounds her. The Government supports it and I am almost sure that we will be able to be supported by the Congress of the Republic.