BOGOTÁ ( Associated Press) — Colombia began the transition to its first leftist government led by senator and former rebel Gustavo Petro, receiving a presidential-elect certificate on Monday for the 2022-2026 term, and the first soon thereafter. Bar met with outgoing President Ivan Duque.
Petro will take office on August 7 with his elected vice-president Francia Marquez, the first Afro-descendant to hold that position.
CNE announced the election on Monday after the end of counting, with Petro winning the June 19 ballot by 11.2 million votes. While his contender Rodolfo Hernandez, a real estate tycoon, got 10.6 million votes.
Petro, who in his youth was a member of the extinct M-19 guerrilla group that surrendered his arms in 1991, attributed his victory to the vote of the country’s marginalized population, popular neighbourhoods, farmers and especially the youth. , According to Petro, the abstinence that typically characterizes him during the vote decreased.
He said after receiving his identity card, “This government is basically because of the presence of the first youth who did not want to snatch the country, which probably has to do with that social mobilization of more than a year ago.” ”
Colombia faced massive demonstrations in 2021, led by young people, against the government policies of conservative President Ivan Duque. It was an unpopular tax reform that, though withdrawn, was the spark that fueled two months of relentless protests against inequality, unemployment and violence. According to the United Nations, more than 40 people lost their lives in the demonstrations.
The victory of the duke’s rival Petro marks a turning point in Colombia, a country traditionally ruled by conservatives and moderates and has resulted in uncertainty for some segments of the population.
A day earlier, Duke referred to the issue in a public act without directly naming Petro: “What scares foreign direct investment the most is uncertainty, and the uncertainty stems from legal instability.”
Petro’s proposals include several reforms to the pension system, tax reforms to finance ambitious social programs for agriculture, justice and free higher education and subsidies for the most vulnerable. However, the most controversial proposals are about preventing new exploration and exploitation of oil, which is an important source of state finances. After his victory, the shares of state-owned oil company Ecopetrol started falling.
Aware of the resistance generated by his figure, Petro promised to rule even for the 47% of voters who did not vote for him and supported his claimant Rodolfo Hernández, a real estate magnate, although he was also against the establishment. , but he did not offer change. heavy in the economy.
With the idea of achieving a “national agreement”, Petro seeks consensus on the reforms the state needs in political, social and economic matters, although he did not specify how this would be done. The elected president assured receiving credentials that he invited his opponents, including Hernández and his arch rival, former President lvaro Uribe, who ruled between 2002 and 2010 and continued in the country’s politics; He is the political godfather of the Duke and leads the conservative Democratic Center Party.
However, he assured that it would be a comprehensive dialogue with all segments of the population, including businessmen and aristocrats, on which he would raise taxes according to what he had said during the campaign.
The transition between Petro and Duque follows two political opponents who faced each other in elections in 2018. After the meeting ended, there was no joint statement or reference to the issues discussed. The Duke indicated on Twitter that the joint would take place “in an accommodating, institutional and transparent manner”.
For four years, Petro was critical of the Senate, not only over the duke’s policies, but also over the military leadership and the police for their alleged abuse of force during the demonstrations.
Political analyst and Universidad de los Andes professor Sandra Borda told The Associated Press that one of the key points of connection will be the military intelligence they share and the budget details that Petro will have to control.
With Petro in government, Colombia would join a group of countries that had turned to the left, like Peru with Pedro Castillo; Honduras with Giomara Castro and Chile with Gabriel Boric.