Leftist Gustavo Petro wins Colombian presidency

Gustavo Petro, a former city guerrilla who as soon as frolicked in prison for his political views, received Colombia’s presidential election on Sunday and is anticipated to herald essentially the most leftwing executive within the nation’s historical past.

Petro earned 50.5 in step with cent of the vote to 47.3 in step with cent for his best rival, 77-year-old populist businessman Rodolfo Hernández, in keeping with provisional legitimate effects. His tally of eleven.3mn votes was once the absolute best in Colombian electoral historical past. Hernández permitted defeat inside of hours in a brief video message.

The consequence represents a sea alternate for the South American country, which for many years has been dominated by way of reasonable and conservative politicians, most commonly from the established elite.

A member of the M-19 guerrilla team within the Nineteen Eighties, Petro, who was once arrested for unlawful fingers ownership and mentioned he was once tortured in custody, has since served as a senator, congressman and mayor of Bogotá. But he had failed in two earlier bids for the highest activity to crack Colombia’s tight-knit political device.

His victory way Latin American’s 3rd maximum populous country, house to 50mn folks, and fourth-biggest economic system could have its first black vice-president, Francia Márquez, an environmental campaigner and social activist who grew up in rural poverty within the violence-plagued south-west.

“This means a new model of government, different from anything Colombia’s seen before,” mentioned Daniela Cuellar, senior guide at trade control company FTI consulting in Bogotá.

“In Colombia, as in many countries in Latin America with a story of inequality, unemployment and violence — all exacerbated by the Covid pandemic — people are looking for different forms of government, and Petro’s victory is that.”

Supporters of Gustavo Petro have fun on the Movistar Arena in Bogotá © Carlos Ortega/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The consequence despatched Petro’s supporters flocking to the streets in party, from the steamy Caribbean and Atlantic coasts to the Andes mountains and far flung cities of the Amazon basin.

In town of Villavicencio, as soon as a hotbed of Marxist guerrilla violence, his backers braved a torrential downpour to power in the course of the streets on motorbikes honking horns. In highland Pasto, on the subject of the border with Ecuador, loads accumulated within the town centre, hugging each and every different in pleasure.

The trade group will likely be much less happy. Petro’s radical name for an overhaul of Colombia’s financial style has spooked buyers.

The foreign money, the peso, and native belongings are more likely to undergo, even supposing as Monday is a public vacation in Colombia, the overall impact may not be felt straight away.

Gustavo Petro arrives at a polling station in Bogotá on Sunday
Gustavo Petro arrives at a polling station in Bogotá on Sunday © Daniel Munoz/AFP/Getty Images

“We’re going to see volatility in Colombian assets in the short term,” mentioned Ani de los angeles Quintana, affiliate director of Control Risks in Bogotá. “Clearly the peso and the markets are going to react negatively. The peso closed at 3,912 to the dollar on Friday. Who knows how much further it will depreciate now?”

“We could also see significant capital flight from Colombia, as happened in Peru with the election there last year. In the medium term, the rating agencies Moody’s and Fitch might downgrade Colombia further.”

Petro’s coverage proposals come with a ban on oil exploration, open-pit mining and fracking in a country that will depend on fossil fuels for approximately part its export income. He says the rustic will have to center of attention on production and agriculture as a substitute.

The 62-year-old has pledged wholesale land reform, a wealth tax at the greatest 4,000 fortunes within the nation and the repeal of rules from 20 years in the past that liberalised the labour marketplace.

His tax reform plans purpose to lift a minimum of $10bn a 12 months, principally by way of enforcing levies on corporate dividends, offshore belongings and big rural estates. The transfer “would affect 4,000-5,000 people in Colombia but it would bring social justice, stimulate production and give us the source of money we need”, he instructed the Financial Times in a up to date interview.

He has pledged to make use of the income to fund common loose upper schooling and a minimal salary for 1.3mn folks, and to chop the federal government deficit, which reached 7.1 in step with cent of gross home product on the finish of 2021.

“We hope we can have a constructive dialogue with the new government,” mentioned Bruce Mac Master, president of the National Business Association of Colombia. “Petro is an economist. He understands economic issues. The important thing now is that he names a really good cabinet.”

Despite his victory, Petro would possibly combat to enact his extra radical proposals. His coalition, the Historic Pact, has best 15 in step with cent of the seats in each homes of congress.

“The next few weeks are going to be key to see what kind of alliances he can form,” Cuellar mentioned.

Petro will take over as president on August 7 when rightwing incumbent Iván Duque steps down.

Duque’s executive is deeply unpopular regardless of sturdy financial expansion, and Sunday’s consequence marked a setback for Colombian conservatism, which had thrown its weight in the back of the unorthodox Hernández in a frantic bid to stay the left at bay.

Leave a Comment