The forest law | More arguing and less yelling

The debate on the motion of censure against the Minister of Mines and Energy, Irene Vélez, in the House of Representatives became the first litmus test for the opposition to the government of Gustavo Petro. The official’s misguided announcements, her obvious ignorance of the portfolio in her charge, and her lack of leadership in a sector fundamental to the national economy, brought 35 representatives to the House to call on her to hold a debate over political control , which could end with his resignation from his position. His fate will be decided this Tuesday, when the representatives vote on the censure motion.

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In a lackluster cabinet, where there are no excellent or outstanding figures, Vélez stood out for his inappropriate statements and for generating a stir in the markets with each of his statements, to the point that several congressmen who convened the debate accuse them of generating “economic panic”.

Since his first statements announcing that there would be no more oil and gas exploration and exploitation contracts during this administration, Vélez has seriously jeopardized the stability of the most important sector of the national economy. His statements about the “declining economy”, just at a time when Colombia needs to expand its hydrocarbon export offerings in order to have more resources, as well as its clear interest in importing gas from Venezuela, which threatens the country’s energy sovereignty, put Minister Vélez in public pillory.

Faced with the onslaught of the opposition, which “wants to eat as a minister”, President Gustavo Petro himself came forward in defense of his official and in a thriller he wrote on the same day of the debate, he highlighted Vélez’s management: ” The electricity rate compared between the month of October and September decreased by 2%. This is how it behaved by region and by strata. Good job by the Minister of Energy, Irene Vélez,” Petro wrote on Twitter.

Petro’s congratulations are linked to the drop in energy rates in the country after several months of steady growth. Minister Vélez undertook to seek agreements with both producers and energy sellers that would allow tariffs to be reduced. While in reality it represents a “symbolic” fall in rates of barely 2%, the mere fact that the upward trend had stopped, after rising to 20%, earned presidential recognition.

As for Vélez’s future – which will be decided this Tuesday – it is very likely that the Minister of Mines and Energy will emerge stronger than looking weakened, to the point of being forced to resign. That is not only because it is not only about a government that is barely getting going and a president with great popularity, but also about the majority in the House of Representatives.

In addition, the opposition has failed to design or consolidate a strategy that would enable it to be much more effective in its criticism of the Petro government.

It has been shown that the noise on social networks is not enough if it is not accompanied by knowledge and depth in the debates on the part of the congressmen who form the opposition. It is one thing to have a “cat and dog fight” on Twitter, with all kinds of insults and slander, and quite another is a political scrutiny debate against a government official, as is the case with Minister Vélez.

But the debate on the censure motion against Minister Vélez also showed the serious shortcomings of the opposition in Congress. It is not just a lack of strategies, but of figures with the capacity to come together to mobilize not only Congress, but the country. There is no “Petro” or “Uribe” in the parliamentary opposition that strikes chords and evokes feelings. Effective opposition requires much more than name-calling and yelling.

What will happen to the opposition now? Where are the opposition members?

Source: El Heraldo