The Colombian government’s intention to fast track the passage of health care and military reform bills through Congress has been met with a mixed response from Congress members.
Interior Minister Fernando Carrillo Florez Monday announced that a message of urgency, with the support of President Juan Manuel Santos, had been transferred to Congress regarding the passage of health care reform, the amendment to the military jurisdiction bill, and the ratification of the Pacific Alliance.
Carrillo said that the reforms over military jurisdiction and the health service would be prioritized and could pass before the Senate and the House of Representatives in joint sessions, reducing the amount of time spent debating the laws by half, with the ratification of Colombia’s integration into the Pacific Alliance also to be made a priority.
Alfonso Prada, president of the Green party and representative for Congress spoke out against the move Thursday.
“The government has made a mistake…the same occurred with the military reform bill, which is practically a code of 100 articles that Congress has to study,” said Prada. “It seems to me that the pressuring Congress is a way to increase the superficiality of the debate.”
Senator Jorge Robledo of the Democratic Pole party also rejected the proposal, telling Colombia Reports that the move would signify a “shortening of democratic debate; which isn’t good,” whilst also describing the health reform as a “backwards reform.”
The health reforms have so far proved to be the most divisive of the three. On the one hand, Senate president Roy Barreras has been behind its fast tracking.
“The health reform is the priority and should be passed with this legislature…we need to make every effort”, said Barreras. “Congress is willing, the reform is good and everything is ready.”
Conversely, Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria Thursday declared that the reform should undergo a studious and thorough analysis before the bill is passed.
“[The health reform] is not to be accompanied by a message of urgency, we are going to hold forums across the country, to involve the community,” said Gaviria.
Accompanying the two controversial bills is the rather more straightforward process of ratifying the Pacific Alliance partnership, founded in June 2012, aimed to stimulate business between the member countries of Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia.
The Alliance is essentially a trade bloc, in which the countries agreed in January to eliminate 90% of all their trade barriers and which is set to make up 35% of Latin America’s GDP and it is also hoped to be passed through Congress ‘in record time’. In addition, the agreement will also remove visa restrictions between the four countries.
The Mexican Congress has already approved the agreement, whilst the Chilean and Peruvian governments are reportedly in the legislative process of approval.
- Congreso dividido por mensaje de urgencia para proyectos prioritarios del Gobierno (Caracol Radio)
- Mininterior anuncia mensaje de urgencia para reforma a la salud y fuero penal militar (Ministerio del Interior
- No habrá mensaje de urgencia para la reforma a la salud (Caracol Radio)
- Reforma a la salud y fuero militar con mensaje de urgencia (El Espectador)
- Mensaje de urgencia para debate con Alianza del Pacífico (Vanguardia)