Why did Gustavo Petro win?

By: León Valencia for @infobae

Translation by: María Victoria Ramírez


I am going to list the eight events that led Gustavo Petro and the leftists to the presidency of Colombia:


The Peace Agreement between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC-EP opened the doors for Colombian society to vote calmly for a change. The right, with supreme skill, associated the left with guerrillas and violence, feeding fear election after election. They did not care that the leaders of this current had distanced themselves from the war and had radically committed themselves to democracy. The tricky argument lost strength when the agreement was sealed with the oldest and most powerful guerrilla in the country.


The opinion vote, especially in big and middle sized cities, began to grow in the 21st century. First, he gave some important mayor ships to the alternative forces and then it became the decisive factor in the presidential ones. This is how Petro won this time by a significant margin in Bogotá, Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena and other cities. Alvaro Uribe clearly saw the phenomenon and therefore encouraged a coalition between former mayors, but the manoeuvre was not enough to defeat the left.


The Covid-19 pandemic had Colombia in suspense for more than two years, aggravated all the country's structural problems and left a trail of death, hunger, poverty and unemployment that made "the social issues" jump to the first place on the agenda of Colombians and, when security is not the main concern, the right wing loses its appeal.


From the hand of the pandemic came the social outbreak of April 2021. Seven million Colombians took to the streets in six hundred municipalities in the largest demonstration of discontent in national history. The government of Iván Duque responded with the militarization of the country and equally confronted the peaceful demonstrations and acts of vandalism with a balance of 89 dead and more than a thousand injured, most of them young. Instead, the left sided with the mobilization and protest.


The wave of leftist governments returned in Latin America and the Democrats defeated Donald Trump in the United States. Lula and the Workers' Party are also likely to return to power in Brazil, the region's giant. This time the wave managed to reach our country, so oblivious to what was happening on the continent throughout the 20th century. There was even the unusual situation in which Uribismo decided to interfere in the United States elections by supporting Trump, propitiating a rapprochement between Biden and the Colombian left.


The Francia Marquez effect. As much as we talk about the contribution of this black, feminist, environmentalist, charismatic, intelligent and combative woman to Gustavo Petro's campaign, we still haven't been able to decipher her enormous contribution. There is a purely symbolic fact: the more than 700,000 votes ahead that Petro won over Hernández in the second round are the same ones that France obtained in the consultation on the Pacto Histórico; but there are indisputable realities, such as the enormous milestone that hit the women's vote and the votes of the Pacific coast.


The bad candidates of the right and the qualities of Petro. Truth be told, both Federico Gutiérrez, who throughout the first round campaign served as a candidate for this political current, and Rodolfo Hernández, who with his jump to the second round and the certain threat that he could defeat Petro brought together all the forces of the right wing around him; they were candidates without much knowledge about the country, with great weaknesses in the debates, without national political experience. The only thing on their side was the fear of a part of the country to the left and Petro. On the other hand, the candidate of the left demonstrated in each speech, in each interview, a deep knowledge of the national reality and a special skill in the debate.


And one last and powerful reason. Álvaro Uribe and Uribismo entered an irreversible decline, harassed by serious legal causes and by the ghost of the 6,402 extrajudicial executions of unarmed people documented by the JEP (The Court of Special Justice for Peace). This is how this great irony took place: Uribe accused Santos of handing over the country to the left and it is a government of Uribismo, Iván Duque, with its terrible rule, which opens the doors to victory for the first left-wing president in Colombia.