Colombia Front-Runner Says He’d Declare Emergency if Elected

Colombian Front-Runner Says He’ll Declare Emergency if Elected

Colombian presidential front-runner Gustavo Petro said he’ll declare an “economic emergency” that would allow him to bypass the normal workings of congress if he wins this year’s presidential election. 

Petro, who is leading all major polls ahead of the first-round vote in May, told Blu Radio that the “social catastrophe” of widespread hunger in Colombia justifies such a move.

Ruling by decree would allow his administration to “protect” Colombia’s food supplies by buying crops from farmers and medium-sized producers and subsidize agricultural inputs, he said.  

A state of emergency allows a government to approve laws and regulations through decrees without approval from congress for as many as three 30-day periods when there are severe economic, social and environmental risks. 

The Constitutional Court would need to rule on the legality of the decrees issued under the emergency. Congress would also revise the decrees and could potentially modify or overturn them. 

The percentage of Colombians who are eating three daily meals was 72% in January, down from 90% before the pandemic, according to a survey by the statistics agency.

Petro, who has also said he’ll halt oil exploration if he wins, said he’s confident that his political movement, along with alliances, will gain a majority in congress in the upcoming March 13 legislative elections. Colombia holds presidential elections May 29 with a likely run-off vote three weeks later.

President Ivan Duque also declared such an emergency at the height of the pandemic in 2020. 

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