President Gustavo Petro at his inauguration on Sunday President Gustavo Petro at his inauguration on Sunday  (AFP or licensors)

New Colombian president starts term

Gustavo Petro, Colombia’s first ever leftist president, starts his first day of work after being inaugurated and promising to unite the country.

By James Blears

It was Gustavo Petro’s third attempt to win the Presidency of Colombia.

He defeated the traditional ruling elite, and then maverick real estate millionaire Rodolfo Hernandez, in a close runoff.

Francia Marquez is Colombia’s first ever black Vice President, heralding another new beginning.

Once a M19 guerrilla, Gustavo Petro abandoned extreme politics to be elected the Mayor of Bogota and a Senator.

He is promising not two societies nor two nations, but one, reinforcing a just and united Colombia.

Congressional test

Enacting his policies and getting his legislation through Congress will be the real test.

He’s pledged major tax and pension reform, boosting programs for the poor, free public university education, relations with neighbouring Venezuela, plus making Colombia a global powerhouse by reducing emissions and tackling de-forestation.

President Petro has also boldly stated that the global war against narcotics has failed, and that more focus must be brought to bear on consuming nations, which are the demand destination for tons of cocaine.

The 2016 Peace Accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC, didn’t include the smaller National Liberation Army the ELN, which is still fighting.

Petro seeks talks with them and other groups, who are brandishing and using guns.

A society previously reluctant to elect a left winger now has Petro, who’s promising a different approach to transform Colombia.

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08 August 2022, 16:48