Photo of Gustavo Petro
Gustavo Petro Credit: Gustavo Petro / Gustavo Petro

Gustavo Petro has been elected President of Colombia after a runoff election held on Sunday, June 19.

Petro, a former guerilla fighter with the M-19 movement, defeated populist construction magnate Rodolfo Hernandez. 

Petro, 62, has previously served as both a Senator in the Colombian legislature and more recently as Mayor of Bogota, Colombia’s most capital and most populous city. During his campaign, Petro promised to fight inequality through a series of reforms to pensions, raising taxes on unproductive land, and free university education.

Despite running a scorched earth campaign, Hernandez did immediately accept the results of the election and conceded to Petro.

“Colombians, today the majority of citizens have chosen the other candidate,” he said. “As I said during the campaign, I accept the results of this election.”

The election saw a slightly higher voter turnout that the previous elections in 2018, with 58 per cent of the country’s 39 million voters turning out to the ballot box, an increase of five per cent from four years ago.

During his campaign, Petro promised to fight inequality through a series of reforms to pensions, raising taxes unproductive land, and free university education.

Petro, chose for his running mate 40-year-old environmental activist Francia Marquez who will become the first Afro-Colombian Vice President in the country’s history.

This was the third time that Petro ran for the presidency. He celebrated the victory in a tweet late Sunday afternoon.

“Today is a holiday for the people. Let him celebrate the first popular victory. May so many sufferings be cushioned in the joy that today floods the heart of the Homeland,” the tweet reads. “This victory for God and for the People and their history. Today is the day of the streets and squares.”

Victory a turning point in fight against colonial legacy

Armando Wouriyu Valbuena, a Wayuu Indigenous Leader, member of the National Indigenous and Campesino Organization (ONIC) and Technical Secretary of the Special High-Level Commission with Ethnic Peoples was hopeful before the election that a victory for Petro and the Historical Pact would mean progress against the legacy of colonization in the country.

“200 years of republican education, which is patriarchal, religious and in Spanish, has led to a slave-like mentality (of the population),” said Wouriyu. “We can become the government and start an efficient and effective public education that allows Colombians to engage in thinking about dignity and freedom.”

Nick Seebruch

Nick Seebruch has been the editor of rabble.ca since April 2022. He believes that fearless independent journalism is key for the survival of a healthy democracy. An OCNA award-winning journalist, for...