BOGOTA ( Associated Press) — Gustavo Petro made history on Sunday by becoming the first leftist president in Colombia, a country traditionally ruled by conservatives and moderates, and promised to immediately reach out to the opposition and fight climate change. Including a dialogue with the United States. on high emissions of greenhouse gases.
In his first message as president-elect, the former rebel and current senator sought to allay fears about his future administration by assuring that “we are going to develop capitalism in Colombia, not because We like it, but because we have to, before pre-modernism in Colombia, feudalism in Colombia, the new slavery.
The man who promised ambitious reforms in the areas of pensions, taxes, health and agriculture during the campaign said that “only on the basis of growing economically, on the basis of production will we be able to redistribute.”
In the registry’s preliminary count and with over 99% of the votes counted, the Left received 50.48%, while its contender, tycoon Rodolfo Hernández, recorded 47.26%. The official result of the election will be announced after a legal scrutiny which is usually known a few days later, although historically in Colombia the preliminary results coincided with the final results. In addition, both President Ivan Duque and his claimant recognized the results.
“The 10 million or so voters of Rodolfo Hernández are welcome in this government. We are not going to use power to destroy the opponent,” said Petro, who assured that the opposition was always welcome during his mandate. will be done” to discuss Colombia’s problems.
Petro called for a great national agreement that includes “not only those who have taken up arms, but the silent majority of farmers, indigenous peoples, women and youth.”
In the international arena, he called for greater integration of Latin America and called for “progressive” leaders to “rethink a future based on high oil, coal and gas prices, as it is unstable.”
President Ivan Duque congratulated Petro on his Twitter account, while Hernandez acknowledged his defeat in a message on his social network. several Latin American leaders, including the leader of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro; From Argentina, Alberto Fernández, and from Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, among others, also recognized the Colombian senator’s victory.
Petro’s latest political victory for the left in Latin America, fueled by voters’ desire for change. Chile, Peru and Honduras have elected left-wing presidents in 2021, and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil is leading the election for this year’s presidential election.
Colombians have taken a drastic turn by electing an opposition candidate for the conservative duke’s government, who will hand over power on August 7 and has gained popularity following the passing of the pandemic and avoiding mass protests in 2021 against tax reform. level encountered. Which later led to claims of inequality, police violence and unemployment.
Former centre-right president lvaro Uribe (2002–2010), who has been a bitter critic of the Petro and has been a central figure in Colombian politics in recent years, said on Twitter that “it is necessary to comply with the defense of democracy”. ” and added that “Gustavo Petro is the president. Let us be guided by one spirit: Colombia first”.
Petro, 62, has promised to govern for minorities and the poor, who make up 39% of the population in Colombia according to official figures for 2021. With populist discourse against and against the elite, he proposes raising taxes on the wealthiest and guaranteeing free public education from childhood to university, employment with a basic wage and increased subsidies.
“That the old man and the old woman may have a pension, that the young man and the young woman may have a university, that the boy and the girl may have milk and bread and that meat is no luxury,” he said. His first speech as President-elect.
In his youth, Petro was a member of the extinct M-19 guerrilla group and handed over his arms in 1991 when the rebel movement signed a peace deal with the kingdom. Its opponents fear that, with the arrival of the Left, Colombia will “become another Venezuela”, plunging its neighbor into a political and social crisis that has led to the emigration of 2.2 million Venezuelans to Colombia.
During the Petro campaign he devoted himself to refute them and promised – even signed under oath – that he would not acquire property, that he would respect personal property, religious beliefs and pensions. will do.
In its first 100 days, Petro intends to focus its efforts on an emergency plan against hunger that boosts a significant income of half the minimum wage ($128) for head-of-home mothers, fracking. Suspend the tests – a technology used to extract gas and oil from deep rocks – and pardon the credits of 10,000 youth at Icetex, the state unit that finances higher education.
Petro, who has been Bogota’s senator and mayor, will also seek to promote a rapid energy transition, as he believes Colombia should be one for “life” from a “hunting economy”. During the campaign, he assured that he would not issue new oil exploitation licenses, which would affect an industry that represents about 4% of GDP.
Francisco Lorreda, executive president of the Colombian Petroleum Association (ACP), explained to the Associated Press that the sector is “very important in generating resources for the nation” because “it contributes about 18% of tax revenue.”
The newly-elected president is set to resume diplomatic ties with Venezuela, which has been severed by Duque and Maduro since 2019. He will also shift relations with the United States to renegotiate the free trade agreement the two countries signed a decade ago and seek new solutions in the fight against drug trafficking. Petro coca is against aerial spraying with glyphosate to undermine crops, although the use of this herbicide is prohibited in the country.
Silvia Otero Bahamón, Professor of Political Science at the Universidad del Rosario, said that “Petro belongs to the poor, ethnic and cultural minorities of the most peripheral regions of the country, who are ultimately taken into account and invited to participate in democracy.” “.
However, it will be difficult for Petro to keep his promises as he does not have a majority in Congress, which is the key to delivering on the reforms promised.
In recent legislative elections, Petro’s political movement won 20 seats in the Senate, a relative majority, but would still have to make concessions in negotiations with other parties.
García Cano reported from Caracas, Venezuela.