Gustavo Petro Takes Office, Says He’ll Propose a Tax Reform that ‘Creates Justice’

The new Colombian president says he will propose to the world to exchange national debt for domestic spending to save the Amazon

Gustavo Petro took office and promised new ways to create and distribute wealth in Colombia.
August 07, 2022 | 07:00 PM

Bogota — The new Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, continues to shed light on the tax reform that he will present to Congress and said that it aims to " create justice.”

Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego’s speech in the Plaza de Bolívar started late since his first order as president of Colombia was to bring the sword of Simon Bolivar to the square, an order denied by his predecessor Ivan Duque.

As soon as he took office as president, he ordered the Casa Militar to carry the Independence hero’s sword from the Banco de la República to the Plaza de Bolívar.

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“It is the people’s sword,” Petro said as he began his speech, and justified the delay in his address on the need for the sword to be there during the inauguration, and assured that “hopefully for future presidents it will turn into a protocol to take office along with the sword.”

Regarding his environmental policy, Petro said “we are willing to transition to an economy free of coal and oil, yet we do little to help humanity with this. We are not the ones emitting greenhouse gases. It is the rich of the world who do it, bringing the human being closer to extinction, but we do have the biggest absorption sponge of these gases after the oceans: The Amazon rainforest”.

He even assured that “one of the pillars of climate balance and life on the planet is the Amazon rainforest. Are we going to let this rainforest be destroyed to reach the point of no return in the extinction of humanity? Or are we going to save it with mankind, themselves, who want to keep on living on this land?”

“We can convert the entire population that today inhabits the Colombian Amazon into a population that cares for the forest, but we need the world’s funds to do so. If it is so difficult to get the money that carbon taxes and climate funds should grant to save something so essential, then I propose to humanity to change external debt for domestic spending to save and recover our jungles, forests, and wetlands,” Petro said.

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“If the IMF helps to exchange debt for concrete action against the climate crisis, we will have a prosperous new economy and a new life for humanity,” he said.

He then explained plans for the tax reform to be presented. “We propose a tax reform that creates justice. Taking a part of the wealth of the people who have the most and earn the most, opens the doors of education to all children and youth. This should not be seen as a punishment or a sacrifice,” said Petro.

He insisted “it is simply a solidarity payment made by fortunate people to a society that allows and guarantees their wealth.”

He further stated that “taxes will not be confiscatory, they will simply be fair in a country that must recognize the huge social inequality in which we live as an aberration, in a State that must protect the transparency of spending, and in a society that deserves to live in peace.”

He assured that he will look for the means to create wealth for all Colombians. “Ten percent of the Colombian population has 70% of the wealth. It is nonsense and an amorality. Let’s not naturalize inequality and poverty.”

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