Colombia Elects New Leftist President

Former mayor of Bogota and ex-rebel fighter, Gustavo Petro, became Colombia’s first
left-wing president on Sunday June 19. Petro has promised profound social and
economic change for the country, and is the first progressive to win the presidency in the
country’s history.

Petro narrowly defeated the right-wing real estate millionaire, Rodolfo Hernández in
Sunday’s run-off election with a wide margin of some 716,890 votes. According to
election reports, he won 50.5% to Hernandez’s 47.3%

Petro’s win came after the country’s struggle with rising inequality, inflation, and
violence. His election marks major change for the latin country, which has been run by
moderates and conservatives over the last decade. During his campaign, Petro has
pledged to fight inequality in Colombia with free university education, pension reforms
and high taxes on unproductive land.

Although many are pleased with the results of the election, many are startled by some
of his proposals for the country. During his victory speech Sunday night, Petro issued a
call for unity telling all members who are in the opposition group will be welcomed at the
presidential palace to “discuss the problems of Colombia.”

Petro’s win also results in Colombia having Black woman as vice president for the first
time in the country’s history. Petro’s running mate, Francia Marquez, a single mother
and former housekeeper, will be the country’s first Afro-Colombian woman vice
president.

The 62-year-old president called the results of the election a “victory for God and the
people.”

“May so much suffering be cushioned by the joy that today floods the heart of the
homeland,” Mr Petro wrote on Twitter. “Today is the day of the streets and squares.”

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