Colombian election results: left-wing candidate and former guerrilla Gustavo Petro wins presidential race

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

During his victory speech Sunday night, Petro said he was open to dialogue with Hernandez. He also called for a Grand National Compact to end the violence in the country, stating, “Real change is coming here, real change. This is what we dedicate our lives to. change from today.”

“Let’s celebrate the first people’s victory. May so much suffering be softened with the joy that fills the heart of the motherland today,” Peter wrote at the celebration on Sunday evening.

Outgoing 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 initiate a harmonious, institutional and transparent transition.”

Shortly after Petro announced victory, rival Hernandez gave a speech declaring that he agreed with the outcome.

“I accept the result as it should be if we want our institutions to be strong. I sincerely hope that this decision will be beneficial to all and that Colombia is moving towards the changes that prevailed in the first round of voting. ” he said.

Hernandez also said that he hoped Petro knew how to run the country and that “(Petro) is true to his speech against corruption and that he will not disappoint those who trust him.”

Both candidates ran on promises of change, seeking to take advantage of how many Colombians are fed up with Duque, a leader whose tenure has been defined by how his administration has handled police behavior, inequality and clashes between organized crime groups.

Petro, 62, has already witnessed two unsuccessful presidential elections in 2010 and 2018. Sunday’s runoff suggests that he has finally overcome the hesitation of voters who once considered him a radical leftist outsider – no small feat for a politician who looks like he’s winning over one of South America’s most conservative countries.

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The support that Petro has secured can be partly explained by the deteriorating socio-economic situation in Colombia, including deteriorating living conditions exacerbated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the war in Ukraine.

While Colombia has seen impressive economic growth in recent years, inequality remains among the highest in the world, with nearly half of Colombians believing the economy is headed in the wrong direction. recent Gallup Poll.

Petro has historically advocated higher corporate taxes and government subsidies for the working class and the poor, tactics that could help him bring more people from that demographic into his camp.

Peter’s party and his allies were already the largest bloc in the Senate, although they do not control the majority of the seats.

Motley past

Petro was born in the rural town of Ciénaga de Oro in northern Colombia. Petro’s youth was spent in the ranks of the left-wing partisan movement “April 19 Movement” (M19), founded in protest against accusations of fraud in the 1970 elections.

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

M19 has been linked to illegal activities, including alleged kidnappings for ransom, but Petro says he carried out legitimate activities aimed at mobilizing people to oppose what he called “false democracy” even as a member of the city council. Sipaquira.

Petro was detained by the police in 1985 for concealing a weapon. Shortly thereafter, the M19s launched an attack to take over the Bogota Supreme Court building, in which at least 98 people were killed, including 12 justices of the peace (11 are still missing). Petro denies any involvement in the attack, which happened while he was behind bars.

Colombian military guards a group of judges leaving the Palace of Justice in Bogotá on November 6, 1985.

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

Two years later, M19 entered into peace talks with the Colombian state, and Petro was prepared to fight the system from within.

Permanent Campaign

Since losing the 2018 election, Petro has continually tried to allay fears that his economic plan, which also proposes halting fossil fuel exploration and renegotiating international trade agreements, is “too radical” for Colombia. Since then, he has 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 any private land if elected. He also invited moderate candidates to become his minister of the economy, and sought international ties with new progressives such as the US Congressional Progressive Caucus rather than traditional left-wing leaders such as the Bolivian Evo Morales.

Petro speaks during the final campaign rally ahead of the first round of the presidential election in Bogota, Colombia, May 22.

His critics say he is too intellectual and aloof, if not outright pedantic, and even his own campaign team calls him “Petroexplainer” given his penchant for lecturing.

To counter this, he campaigns in some of the country’s most impoverished areas, where he engages with locals in conversations that are broadcast on Instagram.

Petro bet that Colombians would believe in him as an advanced politician, telling CNN that he was able to successfully combine his revolutionary fervor with the practice of public administration.

Then the former guerrilla, whose pseudonym Aureliano Buendía is taken from writer Gabriel García Márquez’s magical realism classic One Hundred Years of Solitude, hopes to spark a scientific revolution in Colombia by asking economists to consider his proposals.

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

Reporting provided by Michelle Velez of CNN.

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