Ex-rebel wins runoff to be Colombia’s 1st leftist president

Ex-rebel wins runoff to be Colombia’s 1st leftist president

BOGOTA, Colombia — Former insurgent Gustavo Petro narrowly received a runoff election over a political outsider millionaire Sunday, ushering in a brand new period of politics for Colombia by changing into the nation’s first leftist president.

Petro, a senator in his third try to win the presidency, obtained 50.48% of the votes, whereas actual property magnate Rodolfo Hernández had 47.26%, with virtually all ballots counted, in keeping with outcomes launched by election authorities.

Petro’s victory underlined a drastic change in presidential politics for a rustic that has lengthy marginalized the left for its perceived affiliation with the armed battle. Petro himself was as soon as a insurgent with the now-defunct M-19 motion and was granted amnesty after being jailed for his involvement with the group.

“Immediately is a day of celebration for the folks. Allow them to rejoice the primary fashionable victory,” Petro tweeted. “Could so many sufferings be cushioned within the pleasure that right now floods the guts of the Homeland.”

Petro issued a name for unity throughout his victory speech and prolonged an olive department to a few of his harshest critics, saying all members of the opposition can be welcomed on the presidential palace “to debate the issues of Colombia.”

“From this authorities that’s starting there’ll by no means be political persecution or authorized persecution, there’ll solely be respect and dialogue,” he stated, including that he’ll take heed to not solely those that have raised arms but additionally to “that silent majority of peasants, Indigenous folks, ladies, youth.”

Outgoing conservative President Iván Duque congratulated Petro shortly after outcomes have been introduced, and Hernández rapidly conceded his defeat.

“I settle for the end result, accurately, if we would like our establishments to be agency,” Hernández stated in a video on social media. “I sincerely hope that this determination is useful for everybody.”

Colombia additionally elected its first Black lady to be vp. Petro’s operating mate, Francia Márquez, is a lawyer and environmental chief whose opposition to unlawful mining has resulted in threats and a grenade assault in 2019.

The vote got here amid widespread discontent over rising inequality, inflation and violence — elements that led voters within the election’s first spherical final month to show their backs on long-governing centrist and right-leaning politicians and select two outsiders in Latin America’s third-most populous nation.

Petro’s displaying was the most recent leftist political victory in Latin America fueled by voters’ want for change. Chile, Peru and Honduras elected leftist presidents in 2021, and in Brazil, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is main the polls for this 12 months’s presidential election.

“What I do assume it exhibits is that the technique of worry, hate and stigmatization in the direction of the left not works as a coverage to win voters,” stated Elizabeth Dickinson, senior analyst for Colombia on the agency Worldwide Disaster Group.

However the outcomes have been an instantaneous motive to stress for some voters whose closest reference to a leftist authorities is the troubled neighboring Venezuela.

“We hope that Mr. Gustavo Petro complies with what was stated in his authorities plan, that he leads this nation to greatness, which we’d like a lot, and that (he) ends corruption,” stated Karin Ardila García, a Hernández supporter within the north-central metropolis of Bucaramanga. “That he doesn’t result in communism, to socialism, to a conflict the place they proceed to kill us in Colombia. … (H)e doesn’t lead us to a different Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina, Chile.”

About 21.6 million of the 39 million eligible voters forged a poll Sunday. Abstentionism has been above 40% in each presidential election since 1990.

Petro, 62, can be formally declared winner after a proper depend that may take a number of days. Traditionally, the preliminary outcomes have coincided with the ultimate ones.

A number of heads of state congratulated Petro on Sunday. So did a fierce critic, former President Álvaro Uribe, who stays a central determine in Colombia’s politics.

Polls forward of the runoff had indicated Petro and Hernández — each former mayors — have been in a good race since they topped 4 different candidates within the preliminary Could 29 election. Neither obtained sufficient votes to win outright and headed into the runoff.

Petro received 40% of the votes within the preliminary spherical and Hernández 28%, however the distinction rapidly narrowed as Hernández started to draw so-called anti-Petrista voters.

Petro has proposed formidable pension, tax, well being and agricultural reforms and adjustments to how Colombia fights drug cartels and different armed teams. However he may have a tricky time delivering on his guarantees as he doesn’t have a majority in Congress, which is essential to finishing up reforms.

“The individuals who do help him have very excessive hopes, and they’re most likely going to be disillusioned fairly rapidly when he can’t transfer issues immediately,” stated Adam Isacson, an professional on Colombia on the Washington Workplace on Latin America assume tank.

“I believe you would possibly discover a state of affairs the place he both has to strike some offers and quit plenty of his applications simply to get some issues handed or the entire nation may very well be gridlocked,” Isacson added.

Petro is prepared to renew diplomatic relations with Venezuela, which have been halted in 2019. He additionally desires to make adjustments to Colombia’s relations with the USA by in search of a renegotiation of a free commerce settlement and new options within the combat towards drug trafficking.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated in a press release that the Biden administration appears to be like ahead to working with Petro.

Hernández, who made his cash in actual property, isn’t affiliated with any main political get together and rejected alliances. His austere marketing campaign, waged totally on TikTok and different social media platforms, was self-financed and based mostly totally on a combat towards corruption, which he blames for poverty and the lack of state sources that may very well be used on social applications.

Polls say most Colombians imagine the nation is heading within the fallacious path and disapprove of Duque, who was not eligible to hunt reelection. The pandemic set again the nation’s anti-poverty efforts by no less than a decade. Official figures present that 39% of Colombia’s lived on lower than $89 a month final 12 months.

The rejection of politics as regular “is a mirrored image of the truth that the individuals are fed up with the identical folks as all the time,” stated Nataly Amezquita, a 26-year-old civil engineer ready to vote. “We’ve to create higher social change. Many individuals within the nation aren’t in the very best situation.”

However even the 2 outsider candidates left her chilly. She stated she would forged a clean poll: “I don’t like both of the 2 candidates. … Neither of them looks like particular person to me.”


Garcia Cano reported from Caracas, Venezuela.

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