COLOMBIA: Leftist Gustavo Petro, a former member of the M-19 guerrilla movement who has vowed profound social and economic change, won Colombia’s Presidency on Sunday, the first progressive to do so in the country’s history.
Petro beat construction magnate Rodolfo Hernandez with an unexpectedly wide margin of some 720,000 votes. The two had been technically tied in polling ahead of the vote.
Petro, a former mayor of capital Bogota and current senator, has pledged to fight inequality with free university education, pension reforms and high taxes on unproductive land. He won 50.5% to Hernandez’s 47.3%. This campaign was Petro’s third Presidential bid and his victory adds the Andean nation to a list of Latin American countries that have elected progressives in recent years.
A fragmented congress, where a dozen parties have seats, will act as a check on Petro’s proposals, said Daniela Cuellar of FTI Consulting.
Petro’s running mate Francia Marquez, a single mother and former housekeeper, will be the country’s first Afro-Colombian woman Vice President.
Petro has also pledged to fully implement a 2016 peace deal with FARC rebels and seek talks with the still-active ELN guerrillas.
Current President Ivan Duque tweeted he had called to congratulate Petro, and they have scheduled a meeting in coming days to ensure a harmonious transition. Colombian Presidents are limited to one term.- JAPAN TODAY