Gustavo Petro wins historic elections in Colombia

The victory of the Historic Pact is a marked shift in the Colombian political scene which has been dominated by conservatives for decades

June 19, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch

Preliminary results from Colombia’s second round presidential race indicate the victory of the left-wing Historic Pact coalition led by Gustavo Petro and Francia Marquez. The duo had received 40% of the votes cast in the first round, 10 points shy of a first round victory. The progressive duo was facing off against political outsider Rodolfo Hernández of the League of Anti-Corruption Governors movement who received just under 47% of the vote in the precount. 

The period leading up to these elections have been marked by irregularities, violence, and strong media campaigns demonizing the progressive candidates. Days before the polls, the prominent Colombian news magazine Semana, published a cover with Petro and Hernández’s faces and underneath wrote “ex-guerrillero or engineer”. 

On Election Day itself several irregularities were reported by electoral observers such as ballots having markings that would disqualify the vote, alleged bribing by the Hernández campaign, the barring of observers from polling stations, amongst other incidents.

Progressive movements in Colombia and globally have celebrated the victory of the Historic Pact as bringing a necessary end to decades of conservative politics which have dominated institutional politics for decades. Outgoing President Ivan Duque leaves office with a dismal 80% disapproval rating, largely attributed to his administration’s severe mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented currency devaluation and subsequent economic crisis. 

Duque’s tenure was also marked by constant mobilization by diverse sectors in Colombia. From students to taxi drivers, peasant and Indigenous movements, the people of Colombia maintained an almost constant presence on the streets throughout the four years to make their demands heard. The strongest expression of this popular mobilization was the national strike which rocked Colombia for over two months from late April to June 2021. 

In the historic national strike, hundreds of thousands of people took to the street in dozens of cities and towns across the country to reject Duque’s proposed tax reform bill as well as to demand an end to his policies of repression and disregard for the lives of his people. The brutal state repression faced by protesters which cost the lives of over 80 people, also saw 1,832 arbitrary detentions, 83 with ocular injuries, 28 victims of sexual violence, and a total of 3,486 victims of police violence. 

The duo will be sworn in on August 7, 2022.