Columbia elected former rebel Gustavo Petro first leftist president

Former Guerilla leader and leftwing Senator Gustavo Petro wins presidency with more than 50% votes and defeated rightwing construction magnate Rodolfo Hernandez who secured 47% votes 

Columbia has made history on Sunday as it elected its first leftwing president in presidential elections 2022. 62 years old Leftwing Senator Gustavo Petro elected first leftist president and Francia Marquez as vice president on Sunday.

Columbia never elected a leftwing president in its modern history. Sunday, June 19 will be remembered as a historic day in Columbia. The nation of 50 million people, the largest in Latin America chooses a radical path to solve its economic, social and political problems.     

 It is a big victory for the left and people of Columbia as they waited decades for this day to come. Finally the working people, students, progressive and labour activists, and poor communities have broken the firm grip of the elite on the political system.

It is a big defeat for the ruling elite. The reactionary ruling elite of Columbia had a strong grip over the country for decades. In the name of crushing the leftist insurgency and to end the drug trafficking, the US imperialism fully backed the reactionary ruling elite of Columbia.

Columbia remained the closest ally of US in Latin America. The US was using the reactionary government of the Columbia against the leftwing governments in Latin America.  Sunday, June 19 will be remembered as a historic day in Columbia. 


The rightwing conservative presidents dominated the electoral scene for many decades.   Former left rebel and current senator leftwing Gustavo Petro bagged more than 50% votes while his rival rightwing billionaire construction tycoon Rodolfo Hernandez who got 47% of the vote. The turnout was 58%.

The people of Columbia have rejected neoliberal economic policies and want to see different kind of economic policies to end poverty and unemployment. Many people were sick tired of free market economic policies. The people showed their anger in last few years against their economic and social conditions through street protests.

Last year, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets against rising cost of living, inequality and falling living standards.  Gustavo Petro has promised to increase social spending to address the rising poverty.

Gustavo Petro’s victory reflects widespread discontent in Colombia, a country of 50 million, with poverty and inequality on the rise and widespread dissatisfaction with a lack of economic opportunities. The young people are angry and frustrated due to the unemployment and lack of education facilities. 

Columbia is a bitterly divided country due to a prolong civil war. The left wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) waged an armed struggle against the Columbian state. The brutal civil war between FARC and American backed Columbian governments killed thousands of people.

This brutal civil war was used by the Columbian ruling elite to contain the left movement in the country. The FARC signed a peace deal in 2016 to end the decade’s long insurgency. FARC laid down the arms and join the political process.

 Mr. Petro had been member of rebel group called the M-19, which demobilized in 1990, and became a political party that helped rewrite the country’s constitution.

Both Mr. Petro and Mr. Hernandez beat Federico Gutierrez, a former mayor backed by the conservative elite, in a first round of voting on May 29, sending them to a runoff. Both men had billed themselves as anti-establishment candidates, saying they were running against a political class that had controlled the country for generations.

Mr. Petro believes the economic system is broken, overly reliant on oil export and a flourishing and illegal cocaine business that he said has made the rich richer and poor poorer. He is calling for a halt to all new oil exploration, a shift to developing other industries, and an expansion of social programs, while imposing higher taxes on the rich.

Mr. Petro will take office in August, and will face pressing issues with global repercussions: Lack of opportunity and rising violence, which have prompted record numbers of Colombians to migrate to the United States in recent months; high levels of deforestation in the Colombian Amazon, a critical buffer against climate change; and growing threats to democracy, part of a trend around the region.

For decades, Colombia has been Washington’s strongest ally in Latin America, forming the cornerstone of its security policy in the region. During his campaign, Mr. Petro promised to reassess that relationship, including crucial collaborations on drugs, Venezuela and trade.

In the interview, Mr. Petro said his relationship with the United States would focus on working together to tackle climate change, specifically halting the rapid erosion of the Amazon.

                                                                    Khalid Bhatti        

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