Colombia's new President-elect Gustavo Petro (L) and Vice President-elect Francia Marquez Colombia's new President-elect Gustavo Petro (L) and Vice President-elect Francia Marquez  (LUISA GONZALEZ)

Colombian Bishops urge President-elect Petro to work for reconciliation

The Catholic Bishops of Colombia offer their well-wishes to Gustavo Petro after he wins the presidential election, and say the Church will continue to help the government work for peace and reconciliation.

By James Blears & Devin Watkins

Gustavo Petro will become Colombia’s first left leaning President, winning the top job on his third attempt. The second-round runoff was held on Sunday and results showed a close race.

With most of the votes counted, he won 50.4 percent of the poll, while 77-year-old independent candidate Rodolfo Hernandez got 47.27 percent.

Hernandez swiftly and graciously conceded, offering congratulations and best wishes.

Outgoing President Ivan Duque, who defeated Petro last time around, has agreed to a meeting with him during the coming days, to discuss a smooth and efficient transition.

Campaign promises

In his youth, Gustavo Petro who’s now 62, was a member of the M19 guerrilla group. He was arrested, jailed, and then granted amnesty.

A former of Mayor of the capital, Bogota, and currently a Senator, he will now govern the entire country.

During the election he promised to tackle corruption, reform taxes, improve pensions, and provide free tuition in public universities.

Poverty and inequality in Colombia have increased, especially since the scourge and blight of Covid-19.

Bishops’ message

Archbishop Luis José Rueda Aparicio of Bogota took to social media on Sunday evening to affirm the Church’s desire to “continue fighting for peace, reconciliation, and fraternity among all Colombians.”

In a video posted to Facebook, the president of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference congratulated Gustavo Petro on his election victory.

"To the President elect, Gustavo Petro and the Vice President-elect, Francia Márquez, we wish the best success to all Colombians and to ourselves as Church,” he said. “May they have the wisdom of God to lead the destinies of the history of Colombia."

A responsible democratic process

Archbishop Rueda Aparicio congratulated all the people of Colombia who voted for carrying out a “responsible and mature democratic effort which shows love for Colombia.”

“There are many things to correct in a campaign like the one we have just lived,” he added. “We have learned many lessons about things that should not be repeated. But it is also important that we look at the present and the future of Colombia, while continuing to fight and work for life, peace, and integral human development.”

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20 June 2022, 13:40