BOGOTÁ, Colombia — For the primary time, Colombia can have a leftist president.
Gustavo Petro, a former insurgent and a longtime legislator, gained Colombia’s presidential election on Sunday, galvanizing voters pissed off by a long time of poverty and inequality beneath conservative leaders, with guarantees to increase social packages, tax the rich and transfer away from an economic system he has referred to as overly reliant on fossil fuels.
His victory units the third largest nation in Latin America on a sharply unsure path, simply because it faces rising poverty and violence which have despatched file numbers of Colombians to the United States border; excessive ranges of deforestation within the Colombian Amazon, a key buffer in opposition to local weather change; and a rising mistrust of key democratic establishments, which has grow to be a pattern within the area.
Mr. Petro, 62, obtained greater than 50 % of the vote, with greater than 99 % counted Sunday night. His opponent, Rodolfo Hernández, a development magnate who had energized the nation with a scorched-earth anti-corruption platform, gained simply over 47 %.
Shortly after the vote, Mr. Hernández conceded to Mr. Petro.
“Colombians, as we speak the vast majority of residents have chosen the opposite candidate,” he mentioned. “As I mentioned throughout the marketing campaign, I settle for the outcomes of this election.”
Mr. Petro took the stage Sunday evening flanked by his vice-presidential choose, Francia Márquez, and three of his kids. The packed stadium went wild, with folks standing on chairs and holding telephones aloft.
“This story that we’re writing as we speak is a brand new story for Colombia, for Latin America, for the world,” he mentioned. “We are usually not going to betray this citizens.”
He pledged to control with what he has referred to as “the politics of affection,” primarily based on hope, dialogue and understanding.
Just over 58 % of Colombia’s 39 million voters turned out to solid a poll, in response to official figures.
The victory implies that Ms. Márquez, an environmental activist who rose from poverty to grow to be a distinguished advocate for social justice, will grow to be the nation’s first Black vice chairman.
Mr. Petro and Ms. Márquez’s victory displays an anti-establishment fervor that has unfold throughout Latin America, exacerbated by the pandemic and different longstanding points, together with a scarcity of alternative.
“The complete nation is begging for change,” mentioned Fernando Posada, a Colombian political scientist, “and that’s completely clear.”
In April, Costa Ricans elected to the presidency Rodrigo Chaves, a former World Bank official and political outsider, who took benefit of widespread discontent with the incumbent occasion. Last yr, Chile, Peru and Honduras voted for leftist leaders operating in opposition to candidates on the fitting, extending a big, multiyear shift throughout Latin America.
As a candidate, Mr. Petro had energized a era that’s the most educated in Colombian historical past, however can be coping with 10 % annual inflation, a 20 % youth unemployment charge and a 40 % poverty charge. His rallies had been typically stuffed with younger folks, a lot of whom mentioned they really feel betrayed by a long time of leaders who had made grand guarantees, however delivered little.
“We’re not glad with the mediocrity of previous generations,” mentioned Larry Rico, 23, a Petro voter at a polling station in Ciudad Bolívar, a poor neighborhood in Bogotá, the capital.
Mr. Petro’s win is all of the extra important due to the nation’s historical past. For a long time, the federal government fought a brutal leftist insurgency often called the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, with the stigma from the battle making it tough for a authentic left to flourish.
But the FARC signed a peace cope with the federal government in 2016, laying down their arms and opening house for a broader political discourse.
Mr. Petro had been a part of a unique insurgent group, referred to as the M-19, which demobilized in 1990, and have become a political occasion that helped rewrite the nation’s structure. Eventually, Mr. Petro turned a forceful chief within the nation’s opposition, recognized for denouncing human rights abuses and corruption.
On Sunday, in a rich a part of Bogotá, Francisco Ortiz, 67, a tv director, mentioned he had additionally voted for Mr. Petro.
“It’s been a very long time since we had a chance like this for change,” he mentioned. “If issues will get higher, I don’t know. But if we stick to the identical, we already know what we’re going to get.”
The win might additionally check the United States’ relationship with its strongest ally in Latin America. Traditionally, Colombia has shaped the cornerstone of Washington’s coverage within the area.
But Mr. Petro has criticized what he calls the United States’ failed strategy to the drug battle, saying it has targeted an excessive amount of on eradication of the coca crop, the bottom product in cocaine, and never sufficient on rural improvement and different measures.
Mr. Petro has mentioned he embraces some type of drug legalization, that he’ll renegotiate an present commerce cope with the United States to raised profit Colombians and that he’ll restore relations with the authoritarian authorities of president Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, all of which might create battle with the United States.
About two million Venezuelan migrants have fled to Colombia lately amid an financial, political and humanitarian disaster.
Mr. Petro, in an interview earlier this yr, mentioned he believed he might work nicely with the federal government of President Biden, including that his relationship with the United States would concentrate on working collectively to deal with local weather change, particularly halting the fast erosion of the Amazon.
“There is some extent of dialogue there,” he mentioned. “Because saving the Amazon rainforest entails some devices, some packages, that don’t exist as we speak, a minimum of not with respect to the United States. It is, for my part, the precedence.”
Both Mr. Petro and Mr. Hernández had overwhelmed Federico Gutiérrez, a former large metropolis mayor backed by the conservative elite, in a primary spherical of voting on May 29, sending them to a runoff.
Both males had billed themselves as anti-establishment candidates, saying they had been operating in opposition to a political class that had managed the nation for generations.
Among the elements that almost all distinguished them was how they seen the basis of the nation’s issues.
Mr. Petro believes the financial system is damaged, overly reliant on oil export and a flourishing and unlawful cocaine enterprise that he mentioned has made the wealthy richer and poor poorer. He is looking for a halt to all new oil exploration, and a shift to creating different industries.
He has additionally mentioned he’ll introduce assured work with a primary revenue, transfer the nation to a publicly managed well being system and enhance entry to increased schooling, partly by elevating taxes on the wealthy.
“What we now have as we speak is the results of what I name ‘the depletion of the mannequin,’” Mr. Petro mentioned within the interview earlier this yr, referring to the present financial system. “The finish result’s a brutal poverty.”
His formidable financial plan has, nonetheless, raised issues. One former finance minister called his power plan “financial suicide.”
Mr. Hernández didn’t wish to overhaul the financial framework, however mentioned it was inefficient as a result of it’s riddled with corruption and frivolous spending. He had referred to as for combining ministries, eliminating some embassies and firing inefficient authorities staff, whereas utilizing financial savings to assist the poor.
One Hernández supporter, Nilia Mesa de Reyes, 70, a retired ethics professor who voted in an prosperous part of Bogotá, mentioned that Mr. Petro’s leftist insurance policies, and his previous with the M-19, terrified her. “We’re enthusiastic about leaving the nation,” she mentioned.
Mr. Petro’s critics, together with former allies, have accused him of vanity that leads him to disregard advisers and battle to construct consensus. When he takes workplace in August, he’ll face a deeply polarized society the place polls present rising mistrust in virtually all main establishments.
He has vowed to function the president of all Colombians, not simply those that voted for him.
On Sunday, at a excessive school-turned-polling station in Bogotá, Ingrid Forrero, 31, mentioned she noticed a generational divide in her group, with younger folks supporting Mr. Petro and older generations in favor of Mr. Hernández.
Her circle of relatives calls her the “little insurgent” due to her help for Mr. Petro, whom she mentioned she favors due to his insurance policies on schooling and revenue inequality.
“The youth is extra inclined towards revolution,” she mentioned, “towards the left, towards a change.”
Megan Janetsky contributed reporting from Bucaramanga, Colombia, and Sofía Villamil and Genevieve Glatsky contributed reporting from Bogotá.
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