Tim Louis: Gustavo Petro wins!

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      On June 10, 2022, I blogged about the first round of the presidential election in Colombia.

      Although my favourite candidate, Gustavo Petro, came in first in that round with 40.4 percent of the vote, I expressed a concern then that he would lose in the required second round run-off.

      My concern stemmed from the fact that the combined vote of the third-place candidate, Federico Gutiérrez, and the second place candidate, Rodolfo Hernández, totalled considerably higher than the 50 percent required to win the second round.

      Well, to say I was stunned and elated to learn of that Petro won the final round would be an understatement.

      Petro will be a Colombian president like no other.

      He is the first left-of-centre president ever elected in Colombia. Perhaps more importantly, he is a former guerrilla with the Movimiento 19 de Abril (M-19), and will not settle for a few mildly tokenistic reforms that do nothing but tinker around the edges.

      Petro understands the desperate need for a fundamental restructuring of the Colombian economy, which currently puts the interests of the few who are rich and powerful ahead of the interests of the many who are poor and oppressed.

      His ambitious rural economic plan will bring much needed employment to regions of Colombia where the unemployment rate is horrifically high.

      He is committed to sitting down with Nicolás Maduro, the democratically elected (although disputedpresident of Venezuela, to address issues of mutual concern, such as the refugee crisis, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans crossing the shared border into Colombia.

      Petro understands that the long-term solution to the drug-cartel crisis is not to meet gang violence with army violence.

      He will implement Fidel Castro’s negotiated 2016 Peace Accord between the Colombian government and the guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). This will further de-escalate violence.

      Petro also understands the need for individuals who might appear at first blush to be adversaries to put issues such as the climate crisis ahead of other differences. As such, he has already had what he terms a “friendly conversation” with U.S. president Joe Biden to explore numerous possibilities that would see the two nations working collaboratively on this urgent file.

      Petro’s running mate, Francia Márquez, is a powerhouse unto herself. She is a woman of colour, an accomplished lawyer, and a well-known environmentalist who will want to protect Colombia’s part of the Amazon rainforest, widely known as the lungs of planet Earth.

      The Petro government will face challenges to implementing its full agenda. His party does not hold a majority in the Columbian Congress and is now in the process of attempting to form a workable coalition.

      Lacking that majority, he may not be able to move ahead as quickly as hoped. He will certainly face right-wing opposition.

      Gustavo Petro’s margin of victory was incredibly small. He won just 50.44 percent of the vote, although he handily beat Rodolfo Hernández, who earned only 47.31 percent of voter support.

      Nevertheless, the significance his victory is so large as to be unclassifiable.

      Daily atmospheric CO2[Courtesy of CO2.Earth]

      Latest daily total (June 24, 2022): 420.81ppm

      One year ago (June 23, 2021): 419.02 pm

      Tim Louis is a Vancouver lawyer and former city councillor and park commissioner. This article first appeared on his blogThe Georgia Straight publishes opinions like this from the community to encourage constructive debate on important issues.