Colombia begins the transition to its first left-wing government led by Senator and former guerrilla Gustavo Petro, who proposed a “great national agreement” to carry out ambitious reforms in the face of the country’s division.
Petro broke the tradition of conservative and liberal leaders by winning the second round with 50.4% of the votes, defeating the independent millionaire Rodolfo Hernández (47.3), according to the official count.
With a lead of 700,601 votes, the opposition leader convinced half of Colombians with his plan to transform a country with the second largest gap between rich and poor in Latin America and plagued by drug violence.RELATED
Petro will take office on August 7 along with his vice president Francia Márquez, the first Afro woman to reach the highest echelons of power.
The victory of both resounded among the Latin American left, while the United States announced its willingness to work with the future president. The European Union highlighted the “unquestionable result” of the election.
Meanwhile, this Monday the outgoing government of Iván Duque guaranteed a “peaceful, harmonious and transparent” transition.
“The first thing that must be recognized to defend democracy is when there is a popular pronouncement. Clearly Colombians elected a new president yesterday,” Duque said in a virtual chat with the Spanish-Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa.
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In his victory speech, Petro put radical ideas aside and invited the “two Colombias” that demonstrated at the polls to a “great national agreement to build the maximum consensus” around the ambitious reforms that he proposed in the campaign.
“The change consists precisely in leaving hatred behind, in leaving sectarianism behind. The elections more or less showed two close Colombias in terms of votes. We want Colombia to be one in the midst of its diversity,” he said.
He also maintained that under his government “there will be no political persecution” no matter how “iron and tenacious” the opposition may be.
Because it is a holiday in Colombia, the stock market and the foreign exchange market will react on Tuesday to the triumph of the left in the fourth largest economy in Latin America.
This Monday the elected vice president reinforced Petro’s message.
“The step of reconciliation is with 50 million Colombians; it is with everyone that we are going to advance in reconciliation, in peace, in closing the gaps of inequity and inequality,” Márquez told W Radio.
The 40-year-old environmental leader announced that she will deal with these issues from a future Ministry of Equality.
Petro intends to strengthen the State to improve health services and university education, collect more taxes from the rich and suspend oil exploration to gradually give way to clean energy.
It also plans to resume peace talks with the ELN, the last recognized guerrilla group in Colombia, which on Monday announced its “willingness” to restart the talks buried by the outgoing Duque government in 2019.
The right in power, some unions and sectors of the military fear that Petro will expropriate assets and lead the country towards a failed socialism.
However, former President Álvaro Uribe (20002-2010), leader of the government party, received the victory of his strong opponent with restraint.
“To defend democracy, it is necessary to abide by it. Gustavo Petro is the President. Let us be guided by a sentiment: First Colombia,” he wrote on Twitter.
– Majorities under construction –
Although it has an important bench in Congress, the future government does not have a guaranteed majority.
Senator Roy Barreras, very close to the elected president, said on Monday that the coalition that accompanies Petro will build bridges with other forces.
“What follows is the construction of parliamentary majorities that allow these reforms to be thoroughly carried out,” he told Caracol Radio.
He also maintained that the next government will soon send “clear signals” of its seriousness and responsibility, alluding to the appointment of the ministerial cabinet.
In the Petro campaign, he announced that he would appoint ministers of other tendencies, given the special expectation generated by the economy and defense portfolios.
Petro will be the first former guerrilla to lead an armed force of some 400,000 soldiers and police, the second largest in the region after Brazil, in the midst of the conflict that still persists with armed groups that are financed by drug trafficking and illegal mining. .
“We have a second challenge and that is to alleviate those fears, to tell Colombians that the next government has to be a government of national unity in which polarization is left behind.”
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