Home NEWS Gustavo Petro wins Colombian presidential race-EnglishHindiBlogs-News

Gustavo Petro wins Colombian presidential race-EnglishHindiBlogs-News

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The former guerrilla won by a narrow margin with more than 50% of the vote against 77-year-old entrepreneur Rodolfo Hernandez. In this historic victory, her running mate Francia Marquez will now become the first Afro-Colombian to hold executive powers.

During his victory speech Sunday night, Petro said he was open to dialogue with Hernandez. He also called for a big national accord to end the violence in the country, saying, “What is coming here is real change, real change. This is what we commit our lives to. We will not betray the electorate who have demanded that Colombia change from today.”

“Let’s celebrate the first popular victory. May so much suffering be softened in the joy that today floods the heart of the homeland,” Petro tweeted on Sunday evening.

Incumbent Colombian President Ivan Duque said he called Petro to congratulate him on his victory and that they “agreed to meet in the coming days to begin a smooth, institutional and transparent transition.”

Shortly after Petro claimed victory, rival Hernandez gave a speech saying he accepted the result.

“I accept the result as it should if we want our institutions to be strong. I sincerely hope that this decision that has been taken is beneficial for all and that Colombia moves towards the change that prevailed in the vote of the first round,” he said.

Hernandez also said he hopes Petro knows how to lead the country and that “(Petro) sticks to his rhetoric against corruption and doesn’t disappoint those who trust him.”

Both candidates had run on promises of change, seeking to leverage the number of Colombians who are fed up with Duque — a leader whose tenure has been defined by his administration’s handling of police conduct, inequalities and clashes between organized criminal groups.

Petro, 62, had previously seen two failed presidential bids in 2010 and 2018. Sunday’s runoff suggests he has finally overcome voter hesitation who once saw him as a radical left-wing outsider – which is not no small feat for a politician looking to win over one of South America’s most conservative countries.

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The support that Petro has garnered can be partly attributed to Colombia’s deteriorating socio-economic situation, including deteriorating living conditions, compounded by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of the war in Ukraine.

While Colombia has seen impressive economic growth in recent years, inequality rates remain among the highest in the world, with nearly half of Colombians saying the economy is going in the wrong direction, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Petro has consistently campaigned for higher corporate taxes and government subsidies for the working class and poor, a tactic that could help him lure more of that demographic to his side.

Petro’s party and allies were already the largest bloc in the Senate, although they did not control a majority of seats.

A turbulent past

Born in the rural town of Ciénaga de Oro in northern Colombia, Petro spent his youth in the ranks of a left-wing guerrilla movement, the April 19 Movement (M19) — founded to protest allegations fraud in the 1970 elections.

The group was part of a so-called second wave of guerrilla movements in the country that swept through the region in the 1970s under the influence of the Cuban Revolution.

The M19 was associated with illegal activities – including alleged kidnappings for ransom – but Petro says he carried out legal activities aimed at mobilizing people to oppose what he calls a “fake democracy”. “, even as a municipal councilor of the city of Zipaquira.

Petro was arrested by the police in 1985 for concealing weapons. Shortly after, the M19 launched an attack to take control of the Supreme Court building in Bogota which left at least 98 people dead, including 12 magistrates (11 are still missing). Petro denies any involvement in the assault, which took place while he was behind bars.

The Colombian army protects a group of magistrates leaving the courthouse in Bogota on November 6, 1985.

By the time Petro was released in 1987, after 18 months in military prison, his ideological outlook had changed. He said time helped him realize that an armed revolution was not the best strategy for winning popular support.

Two years later, the M19 began peace negotiations with the Colombian state, with Petro ready to fight the system from within.

A sustained campaign

Since losing the 2018 election, Petro has consistently tried to play down fears that his economic plan – which also proposes halting fossil fuel exploration and renegotiating international trade deals – is “too much radical” for Colombia. He has since surrounded himself with more traditional politicians who could build bridges with the establishment.

Now he presents himself as a new type of progressive.

In April, he signed a pledge not to expropriate private land if elected. He also offered a moderate to be his economy minister and sought to forge international ties with new progressives, such as the U.S. Congressional Progressive Caucus, rather than traditional left-leaning leaders like Evo Morales in Bolivia.

Petro speaks during his closing campaign rally ahead of the first round of presidential elections, in Bogota, Colombia, May 22.

His critics said he was too intellectual and detached – even downright pedantic, with even his own campaign staff calling him a “Petroxplainer”, given his tendency to lecture.

To counter this, he campaigned in some of the poorest parts of the country, where he chatted with locals in conversations streamed on Instagram.

Petro bet on Colombians to believe in him as an evolved politician, telling CNN he had managed to successfully combine his revolutionary zeal with the practice of public management.

Next, the former guerrilla – whose nom de guerre Aureliano Buendia is taken from writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s magic realism classic, One Hundred Years of Solitude – hopes to spark a scientific revolution in Colombia, asking economists to skim his proposals.

“Magical realism comes from the heart while my scientific proposals come from the brain. To govern you need both,” he said.

Reporting provided by CNN’s Michelle Velez.



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