Ongoing anti-government protests have created major cracks in the minority coalition of Colombia’s President Ivan Duque.
Conservative Party (PC) lawmakers and former President Andres Pastrana are rebelling over Duque’s refusal to talk to leaders of the national strike and the president’s far-right Democratic Center’s refusal to share power.
The government crisis became evident on Friday when Pastrana proposed to sack CD ministers and negotiate the incorporation of the Liberal Party (PL) and Radical Change (CR), of the center-right voting bloc, into the government.
The initial cracks
The initial cracks became visible on Wednesday when PC congressmen said on Twitter that they wanted to negotiate with leaders of the national strike, ignoring the “National Conversation” Duque has been presiding over without protest leaders.
Most notably, the lawmakers said they supported an ongoing peace process with demobilized FARC guerrillas, a path that is fiercely opposed by the president’s party and his political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe.
Additionally, the PC lawmakers said they were willing to give in to other demands by the leaders of the national strike that has triggered ongoing protests since Thursday last week.
The Pastrana blow
Pastrana, the political patron of Vice-President Marta Lucia Ramirez, told RCN Radio that “I would be looking for political representation in the cabinet” that is dominated by “Uribistas.”
The former president bashed the Uribe-loyal ministers for failing to defend Duque, whose approval rating has plummeted since taking office last year and who appears to have lost authority and control.
I believe that those who are taking part in government have lacked sufficient political responsibility. I have not seen any of the ministers going out to defend the president. Where are the ministers? Where are the ministers? Where is the Minister of Education? Where is the Minister of Finance? Where is the Minister of Defense? Where is the Foreign Minister?
Pastrana proposed talking to the bosses of the center-right parties about the creation of a majority coalition in Congress and their integration into the cabinet at the cost of the “Uribistas.”
I would seek political representation in the cabinet. I believe that the whole cabinet should be shuffled again, and especially if we are going to make a great political agreement so that those who have that political responsibility are effectively in the cabinet.
Former President Andres Pastrana
“Santos and leftist opposition plan coup”
Pastrana said his coalition excluded the U Party of former President Juan Manuel Santos, who the conservative former president accused of teaming up with allies of leftist opposition leader, Gustavo Petro, to plot a “coup against Duque.”
This coup conspiracy theory is the latest in a series that previously cited “international anarchists,” “satanists” and the Forum of Sao Paulo, an international organization of leftist political parties.
Whether Pastrana’s proposal for a “Great National Accord” is viable is uncertain; Duque proposed a “Great National Pact” with the center-right parties in May, and failed miserably.
Furthermore, Duque appears to have gone toxic, making it unlikely that any party would team up with him without major concessions to the strike leaders.
What is also confusing is that Pastrana has been a fierce opponent of the peace process while his party’s coalition lawmakers are explicitly said to support it.
What is clear is that the Conservative Party is cracking and that Duque’s cabinet has lost the confidence of one of the president’s staunchest conservative allies.