Featured image: Colombian presidential candidate Gustavo Petro.
Colombia’s leftist candidate Gustavo Petro, the frontrunner for Colombia’s May presidential elections, has secured the nomination of the left-wing coalition
The frontrunner for Colombia’s presidential election has secured his nomination by the left-wing coalition Historic Pact for Colombia, putting the country on a track that may mark a first for the country.
Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla in the M-19 rebel group, may become Colombia’s first leftist president.
Petro won more than 80% in the Historic Pact primary, while his main contenders for the presidency, right winger Federico Gutierrez, and centrist Sergio Fajardo, received 54% and just under 33% of the votes, respectively.
As Colombia’s congress is split among a number of parties, presidents are forced to build big-tent coalitions if they want to pass legislation.
In the 2018 elections, Petro lost to incumbent President Iván Duque, in the second round.
The left’s first president?
Colombia has always been ruled by the political right, yet polls show that Petro stands a real chance of winning.
Bogota’s distrust of the left is associated with its experience with FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), which the US removed from its list of foreign terrorist groups a few months ago, and other rebel groups that fought the government in a six-decade-long civil conflict.
Since Petro’s first run for president in 2010, two controversies took place that won him additional fans and enemies:
The first was his relationship with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro. Petro was originally captivated by Venezuela’s ideals, but later distanced himself from Chávez. However, when Petro attended Chávez’s funeral in 2013, he wondered aloud, “Why did I distance myself from him?”
The second controversy occurred during his time as mayor of Bogota, when Petro challenged the establishment during his administration, and stood up against the ruling class, despite facing numerous lawsuits and making powerful enemies.
Colombia already enjoys a rocky relationship with its anti-imperialist neighbor Venezuela, due to the US using Colombia to exert pressure on Caracas. A shift in Colombia’s ruling coalition may bring about a geopolitical shift in Latin America.
On March 13, parliamentary elections also took place in Colombia. In this process, the Historical Pact coalition obtained the highest number of seats in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, although no clear majority can be foreseen for Petro should he win the presidential election, scheduled for May 29.
The Historical Pact won 16 seats in the Senate out of a possible 102, a figure equal to that of the traditional Conservative Party, and above the Liberal Party, also one of the country’s traditional parties, which won 15. In the House of Representatives, the Historical Pact obtained 25 seats —second only to the Liberal Party, which obtained 32— a result that even surprised Petro, who assured that the coalition “achieved the best result for progressivism in the history of Colombia.”
(Al Mayadeen – English) with Orinoco Tribune content
This article was republished from Orinoco Tribune.