Gustavo Petro: first leftist president faces tricky problem in Colombia | Colombia

He spent 12 years of his adolescence within the ranks of an city guerrilla crew, taking the alias of a progressive basic from Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Later, he would function a revolutionary mayor of Bogotá, Colombia’s capital, and as a senator. He ran for president unsuccessfully two times, not able to triumph over the conservative wall erected just about two centuries in the past across the Colombian presidency.

But on Sunday, Gustavo Petro, 62, used to be after all ready to topple that wall and used to be elected president, making historical past as the primary leftwing head of state of the South American nation.

“We are not going to betray the electorate that has shouted at history,” stated Petro in a triumphant victory speech in Bogotá on Sunday night time to rapturous applause. “It is that starting today Colombia changes.”

Petro’s adventure from the ranks of the M-19 guerrilla motion to the presidential palace in Bogotá additionally integrated an arrest for ownership of guns when he used to be more youthful. He has additionally stated he survived torture. The M-19 demobilised in 1990, with a few of its participants signing Colombia’s present charter. Other participants had been killed together with Carlos Pizarro, its presidential candidate, that 12 months.

Petro’s victory over Rodolfo Hernández, a trade wealthy person and gaffe-prone former mayor of Bucaramanga who as soon as referred to Hitler as a “great German thinker”, used to be met with partying within the streets from supporters around the nation. He will take place of business in early August.

Colombia election: Gustavo Petro elected first leftist president – video

“Petro has a totally different vision because he has focused his attention on the most unprotected people in the country,” stated Andres Felipe Barrero, who voted for Petro, on Sunday night time. “And that includes the people who live in the marginal neighbourhoods of the big cities of Colombia, as well as black and Indigenous communities.”

As mayor of Bogotá he amassed a name for high-handedness and a pugnacious angle against his critics, whilst additionally enforcing a hurt relief programme for town’s homeless, in addition to making an attempt to reform garbage control.

Petro’s vice-president might be Francia Márquez, the primary black lady to carry the publish. Márquez, a unmarried mom and human rights defender from Colombia’s downtrodden Pacific area, gained the distinguished Goldman environmental prize in 2018.

“After 214 years we’ve achieved a government of the people, a popular government, of people with callused hands, a government of the people on their feet, of the nobodies of Colombia,” Márquez stated at party.

Despite the euphoria of Sunday night time, Petro’s time in place of business is perhaps extraordinarily difficult. Not best does his 50.47% vote proportion give him a skinny mandate, he’s seen with excessive suspicion via a vital a part of the rustic, who equate him with rebellion teams and leftist strongmen within the area.

“In a traditional conservative rightwing country, some Colombians fear how much can change with a leftwing government,” stated Silvana Amaya, a senior analyst on the international chance consultancy Control Risks, forward of the vote on Sunday. “Some Colombians liken the left to Chavez and the socioeconomic misfortune in Venezuela. Others consider that a country that has lived through an internal conflict for more than 60 years led by leftist guerrilla groups should not allow such an ideology to rule Colombia.”

His plans to retool Colombia’s economic system clear of fossil fuels and against agriculture are prone to spook markets.

Supporters of Gustavo Petro rejoice his victory in Bogotá. Photograph: Perla Bayona/LongVisual/ZUMA Press Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Despite the trepidation a couple of Petro victory, polling day went forward with out violence or allegations of fraud, sudden some in a rustic that has lengthy had a name for political bloodletting.

“Today, we celebrate Colombian democracy and their peaceful election,” tweeted Brian A Nichols, the USA assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, on Sunday. “We look forward to working closely with the Petro administration to promote mutual goals for the Colombian and American people.”

Also excessive on Petro’s time table would be the nation’s fragile peace procedure with the leftist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), which used to be signed in 2016 and officially ended 5 a long time of civil battle that killed greater than 260,000 other people and displaced greater than 7 million.

That deal has been falteringly carried out via the outgoing govt of President Iván Duque, who has been accused of intentionally slow-walking its rollout. Dissident Farc factions that didn’t demobilise and different rebellion teams such because the National Liberation Army (ELN) proceed to roil the geographical region and take advantage of drug-trafficking and racketeering operations.

“The candidate who promised the most, and in most detail, to implement the 2016 peace accord was elected,” stated Adam Isacson, the director for defence oversight on the Washington Office on Latin America, a US-based thinktank. “A key element of Petro’s plan is to increase governance and basic services in the neglected countryside where armed groups and coca continue to thrive, and that’s a core commitment of the peace accord. Much of his electoral base is in these historically conflictive areas, which voted for him overwhelmingly.”

Edinson Bolaños contributed reporting from Bogotá.

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