Gustavo Petro
"Today a new cabinet is being built that will help to consolidate the government's program," Petro wrote in a statement published on Twitter. Photo by: AFP/Daniel Munoz

In an effort to revive his ambitious plan for reform in Colombia, President Gustavo Petro has replaced seven ministers, a move that has encountered significant resistance since he took office in August.

On Wednesday, Apr. 26, Petro made the announcements, replacing significant figures including Health Minister Carolina Corcho and Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo.

"Today a new cabinet is being built that will help to consolidate the government's program," Petro wrote in a statement published on Twitter.

As the leftist president struggles to secure peace with Colombia's criminal and rebel groups and overhaul the nation's labor and healthcare institutions, the unexpected shake-up is a risk that might be a turning point in Petro's legacy, Al Jazeera reported.

Healthcare reform has been a major source of disagreement, with Petro advocating a proposal he claims would enhance access to the nation's poor and pay for health professionals.

Facing opposition from what he called "traditional political leaders and the establishment", Petro signaled his commitment to the reforms by ejecting figures appointed to his cabinet as an olive branch to powerful conservative and center-right forces, including Ocampo.

"We reconfirm our commitment to being always faithful to the popular mandate we received, and we have decided to configure a government to renew our social change agenda," added Petro.

Some important political personalities, including the president's allies, have expressed worry that the bold approach would backfire.

Congress President and Petro ally Roy Barreras called the decision an "unprecedented crisis" and said Petro was "decreeing the death of his coalition".

Ricardo Bonilla, a former university professor who worked as Petro's finance secretary when he was the mayor of Colombia's capital city of Bogota, has taken up Ocampo's position.

In addition, Petro appointed allies like Mauricio Lizcano to the position of technology and communications minister and Juan Fernando Velasco as interior minister.

The AFP reported on Wednesday, Apr. 26, that Petro had asked his entire cabinet to resign but none had offered to do so publicly.

Gustavo Francisco Petro is a Colombian economist, politician, and former guerrilla fighter who is the current president of Colombia since 2022. After taking office, Petro was considered by analysts as Colombia's first-ever left-wing president, although this claim has been highly disputed.

At 17 years of age, Petro became a member of the guerrilla group 19th of April Movement, which later evolved into the M-19 Democratic Alliance, a political party in which he was elected to be a member of the Chamber of Representatives in the 1991 Colombian parliamentary election.

He served as a senator as a member of the Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA) party following the 2006 Colombian parliamentary election with the second-largest vote.

In 2009, he resigned his position to run in the 2010 Colombian presidential election, finishing fourth in the race.

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