Gustavo Petro
Gustavo Petro is himself a former urban guerrilla and Colombia's first-ever leftist president. Photo by: AFP/Daniel Munoz

Colombia's Senate committee on Wednesday said no to a health reform presented by President Gustavo Petro-led administration, marking another setback for the left-wing leader, who was finding it difficult to turn his promises into laws.

The health reform wanted to take control from insurance companies and make healthcare easier to get; however, some people were worried it might lead to corruption.

The president took to his official X (formerly known as Twitter) handle to express his disappointment about the vote, stating that the committee's decision implied significant reforms were not achievable. He also remarked that business owners now hold significant influence over politics.

Interior Minister Luis Fernando Velasco also responded to the rejection, saying, "The government respects democratic rules and within the bounds of democratic rules will insist that Colombia needs a health reform," Reuters reported.

Despite the rejection from the committee, the government can introduce a revised version of the reform in the upcoming legislative session starting in July.

Petro's administration recently assumed control of two major insurers, Sanitas and Nueva EPS, which collectively cover around 16 million people. However, the Senate committee claimed these insurers didn't deliver satisfactory healthcare.

Whereas, the opposition disapproved of this action, fearing it would grant the government more authority over the healthcare system. Last week, Colombia ordered Argentine diplomats to leave the country after President Javier Milei made insulting remarks about Petro.

Last month, thousands of Colombians marched through major cities in the country Wednesday to show their anger toward President Gustavo Petro's supported political, economic and social reforms while urging the government to address worsening security conditions.

Petro took over the office in 2022 after campaigning to fight against poverty and inequality, while ending six decades of ongoing internal conflict in the country, which had caused the death of at least 450,000 people.

The protest came a few weeks after the finance ministry said Colombia secured multiple loan agreements worth more than $1.2 billion, which will be used for budget items this year alongside taking care of costs that come with peace plans.

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