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Former housekeeper becomes vice president as leftist ex-rebel fighter wins Colombian election

Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla fighter, has been elected Colombia’s first left-wing president.

Rodolfo Hernandez was narrowly defeated by Rodolfo Hernandez who was a former member of M-19, a guerrilla movement that sought to change the world. Hernandez promised to make sweeping social and economic changes.

Petro, who was once mayor of Bogota, is currently a senator and promised to fight inequality by providing free university education, pension reforms, and high taxes for unproductive land.

According to election officials, he won 50.4% of votes, compared to Hernandez’s 47.3%. Nearly all ballots were counted.

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Hernandez had previously promised to reduce government size and to finance social programs by stopping corruption.

Francia Marquez was Mr Petro’s running mate and became the first woman of color to be elected vice-president in the country.

The 40-year old is a single mother, a former housekeeper, and lawyer. Her opposition to illegal mining led to threats and a grenade assault in 2019.

Colombia: More

The backdrop of rising inequality and violence meant that the election was held against the backdrop of increasing inequality, inflation, and violence. Voters in the first round of the last month’s election chose to punish the long-serving right-leaning and centrist politicians and choose two outsiders to contest the second round.

According to the World Bank, more than 42% of the country’s inhabitants live in poverty.


Many celebrate on the streets

Petro’s victory signifies the end to the stigmatization of the left in Latin America’s third-most populous country, due to the perceived association with Colombia’s 50 years of armed conflict.

After being imprisoned for his participation in the group, the 62-year old was released on amnesty.

He claimed that he was tortured while in prison.

Some investors were concerned by Mr Petro’s win, as he had policies that prohibited new oil products. However, he pledged to honor existing contracts.

“From today Colombia Changes; Colombia is Different,” Petro said to the cheering crowd in Bogota’s concert arena. “Change is precisely about leaving behind sectarianism.”

Continue reading: What is the reason so many environmental activists are being killed in Colombia?

Many thousands of people celebrated in the streets of the city, some even dancing to the rain at its largest polling station.

After two failed attempts at the presidency in Colombia, Mr Petro’s victory adds Colombia to the list of Latin American countries who have elected progressives in recent times.

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