Erstwhile Bogota mayor and former guerrilla combatant, Gustavo Petro, has been elected as Colombia’s first-ever socialist president. In the run-off election on Sunday (June 19), Petro, a sitting senator, beat far-right property mogul Rodolfo Hernández. According to election results, he received 50.5 percent of the vote, narrowly beating his multi-millionaire opponent by roughly 700,000 votes.
The election outcome represents a significant shift for the nation, which has been run by centrists and right-wingers for years. The election took place amidst considerable dissatisfaction with the manner the nation is managed, with scores of individuals killed in anti-government rallies in 2021. Petro, who is 62 years old, welcomed the triumph as a “success for God and the people.”
“May the joy that now floods the heart of the nation help to alleviate so much pain. It’s the day of the streets and squares today,” Petro voiced on Twitter. Francia Marquez, a single mum and erstwhile housekeeper, is his running mate and will be the nation’s first black female vice-president.
Rival contender Hernandez, who conducted a non-traditional approach that mainly depended on TikTok and various other social sites, conceded to Petro in a video released on social media. “This election’s outcomes are acceptable to me. I hope Gustavo Petro understands how to lead a country and sticks to his anti-corruption message,” he stated.
Colombia’s term limitations prevented incumbent President Ivan Duque from pursuing re-election, but he announced on Twitter that he had contacted Petro to congratulate him. “We promised to meet in the next days to commence a smooth, institutional, and transparent transition,” he said. In the 1980s, Petro was a member of the now-defunct M-19 movement. The rebel leftist organization was one of several guerrilla groups fighting against the government.
In his candidacy, Petro campaigned on a bold platform and promised to tackle inequality by implementing hefty taxes on unproductive land, providing free higher education, and making retirement improvements. Additionally, he promised to explore discussions with the still-active ELN rebels as well as to properly execute a 2016 peace agreement that put an end to a 50-year war with the FARC communist guerrilla organization.