Leftist candidate and ex-member of the M-19 guerrilla movement Gustavo Petro got the most votes in the first round of Colombia’s presidential election on Sunday. With about 40 percent of the vote, he has yet to get a majority, so he will face right-wing populist businessman Rodolfo Hernandez in the second round on June 19.
For a long time, it was almost inconceivable in Colombia that a left-wing candidate would have a serious chance at the presidency. In the country, left-wing rebel groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the National Liberation Army, and M-19 have fought against right-wing governments for decades.
After more than 96 percent of the votes were counted on Sunday, it turned out that the right-wing Hernandez had received about 28 percent of the vote. He is also known as ‘Colombian Trump’ due to his fierce statements and campaign style. The former mayor of Bucaramanga has promised to fight corruption, but is currently under investigation.
Left-wing candidate Petro was a member of the former guerrilla movement M-19. This organization laid down its arms in 1990 and transformed itself into a political party. Pietro was then for some time the mayor of the Colombian capital, Bogota.
Petro wants economic and social change
Petro vowed to make major economic and social changes if he became president. He wants to redistribute pensions in the country, create a free public university and start tackling inequality in the country. It is especially popular among young people.
Petro, 62, was accused of wanting to emulate the policies of the late former leader Hugo Chavez of neighboring Venezuela. He himself strongly denies this. Petro also pledged to fully implement the 2016 peace agreement with the left-wing FARC rebels. He also wants to engage in new peace talks with the National Liberation Army (NLA) rebels who are still active in parts of the country.
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