Former guerrilla Gustavo Petro has won the presidential election in Colombia. According to the preliminary count, the former mayor of the capital Bogotá received 50.49 percent of the votes, as the electoral office announced on Sunday. The real estate entrepreneur Rodolfo Hernández received 47.26 percent.
“I called Gustavo Petro to congratulate him as the elected President of the Colombian people,” incumbent President Iván Duque wrote on Twitter. “We have agreed to meet in the next few days to initiate a smooth, institutional and transparent transition.”
The defeated candidate also admitted defeat. “The majority of citizens who voted today voted for the other candidate,” Hernández said in a video message. “I accept the result.”
This is the first time in recent Colombian history that an avowed leftist has moved into the presidential palace in Bogotá. The South American country is traditionally conservative. The social divide is wide, but left-wing politics has had a bad reputation so far due to the violence of guerrilla groups in decades of armed conflict.
At Petro’s side, Vice-President-elect Francia Márquez, an Afro-Colombian human rights activist and environmentalist, will take over as head of state. She fought against illegal gold prospecting in the Cauca region, which was particularly hard hit by the violence, and was threatened several times. In 2018, she received the prestigious Goldman award for her fight.
In his own words, Petro wants to pacify the country, slow down the exploitation of raw materials, promote tourism and tax companies more heavily. This could also have consequences for Germany, which wants to import more coal from Colombia in the future because of the sanctions against Russia because of the war of aggression against Ukraine.