2022 – Former guerrilla fighter Gustavo Petro wins Colombia’s elections and becomes the first leftist president | Colombia

Colombia has elected former guerrilla fighter Gustavo Pietro as president, becoming the first left-wing head of state in the South American country.

Petro beat Rodolfo Hernandez, the former mayor of Bucaramanga and business magnate, with 50.47% of the vote in Sunday’s run-off and will take office in July amid a series of challenges, not least the deepening of discontent with it. Inequality and the rising cost of living. Hernandez has 47.27%, according to results released by electoral authorities, with nearly all votes counted.

Petro’s election marks a turning point for Colombia, a country that has never had a left-wing president, and follows similar victories for the left in Peru, Chile and Honduras.

“Today is a celebration for the people,” the winning candidate tweeted on Sunday evening after the results were announced. “May you ease the suffering in the joy that fills the heart of the homeland today.”

Petro’s path from an M-19 guerrilla army fighter to president in the 1980s also led to him becoming a senator and mayor of the capital, Bogota. He was famous for his zigzagging and domineering sermons.

Award-winning human rights and environmental advocate Francia Marquez will become Petro’s vice president, the first time a black woman has held this position.

Gustavo Petro’s supporters celebrate his election as Colombia’s first left-wing president. Photo: Carlos Ortega/EPA

“Today all women win” chirp Marquez as polling stations closed on Sunday afternoon. “We face the greatest opportunity for change in recent memory.”

“History is shattered because nothing like this has happened since we became a republic and gained independence 200 years ago,” said Andres Felipe Barreiro, a Petro supporter.

I am very pleased with the election of the new president. “It’s quite the change we expect, although a bit partial, it’s the change we expected,” said Diego Leon, who also voted for Pietro.

ÔÇťIt really is a new moment for Colombia,ÔÇŁ said Luis Eduardo Celes, who works at the Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation, a Colombian think tank. “Colombia has many problems to solve: agrarian reform, the economy in the service of the people, fairer taxes to get out of hunger, to get out of poverty, and to put an end to all this violence.”

A supporter of Gustavo Petro waving the national flag from his car. Photo: Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images

Hernandez looked like a competitor, but could not escape a constant torrent of scandals. He described Hitler as a “great German thinker” and was photographed making fun of models on a yacht in Miami. His posts on TikTok – where he ran much of his campaign – were riddled with profanity and he refused to participate in discussions ahead of Sunday’s vote.

On the new leader’s agenda will be the country’s stalled peace process with leftist rebels, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which was signed in 2016 and officially ended five decades of civil war that killed more than 260,000 people and displaced more than 7 million. . Evan Duque’s outgoing government was accused of delaying implementation of the agreement in order to undermine it.

Another problem for Petro will be neighboring Venezuela, which has been mired in social, political and economic crisis for years. Petro has called for the resumption of relations with Venezuela’s powerful ruler, Nicol├ís Maduro, and has spoken out against the Duque government’s policy of isolation.

Petro has also promised to rid the country of its dependence on fossil fuels, which has unnerved investors.

The election was hotly disputed, and many observers saw the race between two relatively underdogs as a broader rebuke to the political class. A large number of traditional politicians were ousted in the first round.

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