Francia Márquez (left) and Gustavo Petro (right) during a campaign activity. File photo: EuropaPress.
Caracas, June 20, 2022 (OrinocoTribune.com)—This Sunday, June 19, just a few minutes after the release of the latest quick count indicated that leftist Gustavo Petro would win Colombia’s presidential election, an avalanche of congratulatory messages inundated social media networks, particularly Twitter. Petro’s opponent, Rodolfo Hernández, conceded defeat, while Colombia’s outgoing President Iván Duque congratulated Petro.
“I congratulate Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez for the historical victory in Colombia’s presidential elections,” wrote Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Twitter. “The will of the Colombian people was heard, who went out to defend the path towards democracy and peace. New times are coming for our brother country.”
On the same platform, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel expressed his “fraternal congratulation to Gustavo Petro for his election as president of Colombia in a historical people’s victory. We reiterate our willingness to advance in the development of bilateral relations for the good of our peoples.”
Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) wrote a congratulatory message with a commentary on Colombian politics: “Gustavo Petro’s triumph is historic. Colombia’s conservatives have always been tenacious and tough. The writer José María Vargas Vila recounted that the dictators of his country ‘dipped their daggers in holy water before killing.'”
“In 1948,” added AMLO, “that same procedure caused the assassination of the great liberal leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán. The people, inflamed by the crime, destroyed all public buildings in Bogotá and there were thousands of deaths, in a spontaneous and cruel popular revolution… Gabriel García Márquez wrote that his friend Wilfrido Mathieu warned him of what had happened and said: ‘This country was screwed.’ Today’s triumph may be the end of that curse and the dawn for that brotherly and worthy people. Congratulations.”
For his part, Chilean liberal President Gabriel Boric wrote: “I just spoke with Gustavo Petro to congratulate him for his victory in Colombia’s presidency alongside Francia Márquez. Happiness for Latin America! We will work together for the unity of our continent amid the challenges of a world that changes rapidly. We keep going forward!”
The Chilean president’s words contrasted with his statements during the failed Summit of the Americas organized by the White House in Los Angeles. In several media statements and speeches, the so-called leftist president accused Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela of human rights abuses. Meanwhile, Chile has brought its Mapuche land to the brink of civil war, with civil liberties suspended following violent incidents between police and Mapuche land defenders.
The president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, wrote: “I’m filled with joy by the victory of Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez at the conclusion of the electoral process in Colombia. I just finished transmitting my congratulations to the president elect, for the trust that the Colombian people have placed in him.”
Pedro Castillo, the troubled leftist president of Peru, posted a tweet stating: “I just called Gustavo Petro to congratulate him for his historic democratic victory in Colombia. We are united by a common feeling that seeks collective and social improvements along with the regional unity of our peoples. Brother Gustavo, always count on the support of Peru.”
“Congratulations to the Colombian people!” wrote Bolivia’s President Luis Arce. “Our congratulations to brother Gustavo Petro and sister Francia Márquez for their victory at the polls. Latin American unity strengthens. We join the party of all Colombians, Jallalla!”
Guillermo Lasso, the president of Ecuador—currently besieged by powerful Indigenous protests against his neoliberal policies—posted the following tweet: “I have congratulated Gustavo Petro by telephone for being elected president in our sister Republic of Colombia, and I remarked the will of our government to strengthen friendship and cooperation, prioritizing development and unity of our peoples.”
Xiomara Castro, Honduran president, wrote: “in the name of the Honduran people I congratulate the brave Colombian people for choosing the historical social change represented by president elect Gustavo Petro.
Former president of Brazil and leading candidate in its upcoming October presidential elections, Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva also wrote a congratulatory message on Twitter: “I warmly congratulate companions Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez and all Colombian people for the important victory in this Sunday elections. I wish success to Petro in his government. His victory will strengthen democracy and progressive forces in Latin America.”
As of Sunday night, Jair Bolsonaro, the current president of Brazil, had not posted a congratulatory message to the next Colombian president. Similarly, the right-wing presidents of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou, and Paraguay, Mario Abdo, had not posted congratulatory messages.
Evo Morales, Indigenous leader and former president of Bolivia, wrote: “We congratulate the people of Colombia, brother Gustavo Petro, brand new president elect, and sister Francia Márquez, first afro-descendent vice president in the history of that country, for their indisputable victory in the ballots. This is a victory for peace, truth, and dignity.”
The official voting results are yet to be announced, but Colombia’s electoral tradition relies heavily on quick count results, which gave Petro a lead of more than three percentage points over his opponent Rodolfo Hernández. Regional progressives breathed a collective sigh of relief following the admission of defeat by Hernández, a candidate who represented the continuation of the status quo. It was feared that Hernández would not go down without a fight.
Many analysts recognized the key role played by Petro’s running mate, Francia Márquez, due to her personal charisma and deep-rooted connection with social movements. Márquez likely represented the decisive factor for Petro’s victory, following two unsuccessful previous election runs by the center-left politician and former guerrilla fighter, now president elect of Colombia.
Special for Orinoco Tribune by staff
This article was republished from Orinoco Tribune.