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Thousands of Colombians took to the country’s streets this week to protest against the policies of President Gustavo Petro, as Colombia’s first leftist leader struggles to keep his parliamentary coalition together amid internal disputes and a corruption scandal, the Associated Press reported.

Tuesday’s demonstrations targeted some of Petro’s proposed reforms, including a bill to revamp Colombia’s health system that will turn a government agency into the sole administrator of insurance payments.

The president said the health reform will make it easier for the government to reimburse hospitals and invest more in healthcare centers for remote rural areas. His opponents, however, counter that the government does not have enough capacity to successfully run the system. They add that the changes will sideline the many private companies that currently manage a large portion of the insurance market.

Protesters also complained about a new labor bill that would make it more difficult for employers to hire workers using temporary contracts. The draft law requires employers to pay additional fees for any work conducted after 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, these reforms have stalled in the legislature amid stonewalling from opposition parties and disputes within the ruling coalition. Petro’s Historical Pact party had to form a political union with traditional centrist and right-wing parties because it lacked a majority in congress.

But the ideologically diverse union started fracturing earlier this year over the proposed reforms. Still, the leftist leader said he would press on.

Amid internal struggles, the government is also facing a corruption scandal involving members of Petro’s inner circle. The president is facing allegations that his campaign was financed by undeclared donations.

Petro was elected last year following massive protests over social and economic inequalities that worsened during the pandemic. He also vowed to establish peace agreements with the country’s remaining rebel groups to end Colombia’s decades-long conflict.

But his efforts to make peace have yielded mixed results. Meanwhile, analysts said that the government’s reluctance to modify its reforms has hindered its efforts to build bridges with opposition parties.

In a poll held in May, 73 percent of Colombians said they believed things were getting worse, compared with 48 percent in August 2022. Petro received an approval rating of 50 percent in a poll conducted in November – but by April that had dropped to 34 percent.

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