As Colombia’s Gustavo Petro reaches his first year as president, the country’s leftist leader faces a well-organized anti-government demonstration on Tuesday: the Marcha de la Mayoría (March of the Majority). Summoned by opposition parties and civic groups, citizens from all walks of life will pour into the streets of the nation’s largest cities, expressing their discontent with an administration plagued by political scandals. Startling revelations by Semana magazine that suggest illicit funds may have infiltrated the 2022 Petro Presidente campaign have further fueled public outrage.
Tensions have reached a tipping-point pushing Colombia to a critical juncture as deep-rooted social and economic issues surge to the forefront. The ongoing protests are grounded by the growing perception of a disconnect between President Petro’s promises and economic realities. Despite being elected on a platform that vowed to tackle longstanding problems like income inequality, corruption and social injustice, many Colombians are disenchanted by a government that is squandering public resources, and fearful of Petro’s overt authoritarian public discourse.
Moreover, the government’s handling of security challenges, ranging from the “total peace” agenda with ELN guerrillas and FARC dissidents to surging levels of kidnapping and drug trafficking, unrivaled in the past two decades, lacks accountability.
As right-wing opposition leaders call for Petro to resign, the President’s response to criticism, both from mainstream and independent media, is also under intense scrutiny. While Petro’s administration recognizes the citizens’ right to peaceful assembly, it remains dismissive of the opposition, and the President’s social media narratives increasingly divisive and radicalized.
With an anticipated large turnout in major cities such as Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, Barranquilla, Pereira, Cartagena, and Bucaramanga, the Marcha de la Mayoría emerges as President Petro embarks on yet another international trip, this time to Paris, France, mere days after completing a five-day visit to Germany. Tuesday’s anti-government demonstration occurs amidst a widening political scandal involving illicit wiretapping and allegations of campaign finance violations. The background of the scandal was highlighted this week in an Op-Ed titled “How Colombia’s First Leftist Presidency was Derailed,” published in The Washington Post. The article raises the question: Will Petro survive the scandal?
As the President faces grave accusations from both the Office of the Attorney General and his former Ambassador to Venezuela, Armando Benedetti, Petro contends that a “soft coup” has been orchestrated to thwart his progressive reforms to healthcare, pensions, and labor. Against a backdrop of escalating polarization and targeted attacks on free speech, Tuesday’s march assumes critical significance, as it stands poised to shape the political trajectory of a nation at a crossroads.
The message of the Marcha de la Mayoría will no doubt extend well beyond the borders of Colombia, reverberating throughout the wider region. Other leftist leaders in Latin America, who rode the wave of social revolt during the “pink tide,” now confront precipitous declines in their approval ratings while facing a resurgent conservative and right-wing political opposition. Consequently, the outcome of this mobilization bears immense consequences, influencing not only the fate of the country but also the trajectory of the broader regional landscape.
The marches across Colombia start at 9:00 am. Below, a list of the cities and locations where demonstrators will gather.