BOGOTÁ ( Associated Press) — Former rebel and current senator Gustavo Petro made history on Sunday by becoming the first leftist president in Colombia, a country traditionally ruled by conservatives and moderates, after a hard-fought campaign with tycoon Rodolfo Hernandez.
In the registry’s preliminary count and with more than 99% of the votes counted, Petro received 50.48% and Hernández 47.26%. The election will be announced after a check of legal validity, with which the vote, usually known after a few days, is verified and consolidated. Historically in Colombia the preliminary results coincide with the final results.
Soon after the initial count passed 99%, 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 in Brazil, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is leading the election for this year’s presidential election.
“Today is a holiday for the people. Let them celebrate the first popular victory. May so many sufferings be endured in happiness that today the heart of the motherland is flooded. This victory for God and for the people and their history. Today is the day of streets and squares,” Petro wrote on his Twitter account, while celebrations had already begun at campaign headquarters and “Thank You Colombia” was read on stage.
President Ivan Duque used the same social network to congratulate Petro on his victory in the ballot. “I called to congratulate @PetroGustavo as elected President of the Colombian people. We agreed to meet over the next few days to begin a harmonious, institutional and transparent transition,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, via a video uploaded to his social network from his home in Bucaramanga, Hernandez said: “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 for all.”
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 the “nobles and nobles”, that is, minorities and the poor, who, according to official figures for 2021, make up 39% of the population in Colombia. Petro, with a populist speech and against the aristocracy, it wants to increase taxes on the wealthiest and proposes to extend social guarantees that the state gives the population free public education from childhood to university, those people Increases employment and subsidies with basic pay for Rs.
In his third attempt to reach the presidency, he overcame his biggest obstacle: anti-patriotism. In his youth he was a member of the extinct M-19 guerrilla and handed over his arms in 1991 when the rebel movement signed a peace deal with the state. 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 campaign, Petro devoted himself to refute them and promised – even to sign under oath – that he would not acquire property, he would inherit personal property, religious beliefs and pensions. will respect.
In its first 100 days, Petro will focus its efforts on an emergency plan against hunger, it will boost a significant income of half of the minimum wage ($128) for mothers who head households, it will help fracking pilots. Will suspend, a technique used to extract gas and oil from deep rocks, and forgo the credits of 10,000 youth at Icetex, the state unit that funds higher education.
Petro, who has been Bogotá’s senator and mayor, will promote a rapid energy transition from the presidency, as he believes Colombia should move from a “predatory economy” to one for “life”. 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 country, contributing about 18% of tax revenue.”
The newly-elected president is set to resume diplomatic ties with Venezuela, which Duque and Nicolas Maduro have severed since 2019. He will also shift relations with the United States to renegotiate the free trade agreement signed by the two countries 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 restricted in the country due to a precautionary principle.
Nearly 39 million people were eligible to vote in Latin America’s third most populous country amid widespread discontent over rising inequality, inflation and violence.
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.