Colombia | Protests and blockades due to the increase in the price of gasoline, which has increased by 50% in one year due to the decision of the Government of Gustavo Petro to withdraw the subsidies.
With motorcycles, cars, trucks, thousands of demonstrators gathered on Monday in the streets of the main cities of Colombia to protest against the price of gasoline, which has increased by 50% in one year.
It is the effect of the elimination of subsidies carried out by the Government of Gustavo Petro, the first leftist in the country, to favor the transition to green energies and to clean up the enormous deficit of the Fuel Price Stabilization Fund.
But this rise in prices is felt in the pockets and is a burden for taxi drivers and small businesses.
The carriers alert for their part that if the diesel rises in the same way they will not be able to continue working.
The protest comes as discontent with Petro’s administration grows a year after he took office vowing to reduce poverty and make peace with the country’s remaining rebel groups.
The Petro administration has struggled to stop violence in rural parts of the country, and to boost Colombia’s economy, which is expected to grow just 1% in 2023, according to the International Monetary Fund.
“This government is making decisions that are anti-business,” said Alejandra Mendoza, manager of a small company that transports frozen food and other products to supermarkets in Colombia.
“Our costs have gone up by a third, and we have to adjust our budget every month due to increases in gasoline,” Mendoza said.
Colombian Finance Ministry officials have said they want gasoline to reach a price of 16,000 pesos a gallon – about $4 – by the end of the year, which would reflect current gasoline prices in the US, where the federal minimum wage is more than four times the Colombian minimum wage of $280 per month.
In July, the ministry said that subsidies for diesel, used by most cargo trucks in Colombia, will be eliminated after municipal elections in October, and that the price of diesel will double by the end of next year.
Petro has argued that the country’s gasoline subsidies mostly benefited wealthier Colombians who own vehicles. But he has signaled that he is willing to negotiate gas prices with some groups.
Over the weekend, Petro’s administration reached an agreement with the country’s taxi unions that will freeze gasoline prices for the country’s roughly 200,000 yellow cabs.
However, members of the Colombian opposition say the government must go further, as the gasoline price hikes are also hurting delivery drivers, drivers and small businesses struggling to recover from the pandemic.
Jennifer Pedraza, a congresswoman who helped organize Monday’s protest, said the government could moderate rises in fuel prices by charging less tax on sales of gasoline and diesel.
“People are asking the administration to negotiate a different gasoline policy,” he said, adding that it is time for Colombia’s national oil company “to take an interest in making gasoline affordable for everyone.”
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