With Shift To Left, Colombia’s No Longer The US’ Backyard
Gustavo Petro, the former M-19 guerilla member, has now taken Colombia’s top government post as he was elected resoundingly to the presidency today June 19, 2022. Father’s day was postponed to next week to allow for the vote to proceed on this usual holiday date.
Petro was able to win at the polls decisively with 3 percentage points more than Rodolfo Hernandez. At 50.4 to 47.3 percent difference.
Gustavo Petro, president-elect of Colombia
Origins of Petro
Petro is a former M-19 student activist whose guerilla connection coloured his first several decades of political activity. His first post was in Zipaquira, Colombia, a small town north of Bogota where Petro mostly handled media and political matters for the M-19 group. Petro, whose background is upper middle class, also began his official political career simultaneously as a city councilmen of Zipaquira.
Petro has tried several times to reach this post. His last attempt was in the 2018 elections when he lost to Iván Duque, a hard right candidate sponsored by former president Alvaro Uribe. At the time, a still nascent left wing groundswell in Colombia. Unfortunately, in that time period, the right wing of Colombia was able to dial back a series of terms in the peace accords negotiated with the FARC. Like today, there was also constant talk of Duque’s connections with paramilitary forces. If anything, Petro’s ascent is a firm closing of the violent chapter in the country’s dealings with activist groups.
Curiously, while marking himself as a man of the people, there have been episodes or bundled public signaling that shows Petro’s less than humble origins. For instance, Petro’s ironic affinity for luxury goods, connections to the upper echelon of entrenched Bogota based businesses and general lack of competence in administrative matters while mayor of Bogota.
The election of Petro is unlikely to sit well with Washington D.C. Traditionally, Colombia has done for Latin America what Israel has done to the Middle East: destabilize it in favor of US interests.
The election of Petro places Colombia in a different political orientation. The usage of Colombia as both a political and geographical tool to pressure Venezuela, for instance. There is also a potential control and influence of Colombian oil that Petro can wield in a manner that makes Venezuelan crude that much more valuable. This is just in the midst of Washington’s full court press against Russia.
Petro Wins – Third Time’s The Charm
Still, the general trajectory of his leftist ideals is enough to seize the moment for Colombia. The opposition was far beleaguered to do much too. Leaked audios that showcased alternative candidates as blatantly corrupt.