Colombia elects former guerrilla Petro as first leftist president

BOGOTA/BUCARAMANGA, June 19 (Reuters) – Leftist Gustavo Petro, a former member of the M-19 guerrilla movement, who has vowed profound social and financial modify, gained Colombia’s presidency on Sunday, the to start with progressive to do so in the country’s background.

Petro beat building magnate Rodolfo Hernandez with an unexpectedly broad margin of more than 700,000 votes in what analysts said was a demonstration of Colombians’ eagerness for efforts to combat deep inequality.

Petro, a former mayor of money Bogota and current senator, has pledged to battle inequality with absolutely free university education and learning, pension reforms and higher taxes on unproductive land. He gained 50.5% to Hernandez’s 47.3%.

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Petro’s proposals – particularly a ban on new oil tasks – have startled some traders, however he has promised to regard existing contracts. read additional

His victory was most likely to bring about market jitters until his cupboard is announced, analysts advised Reuters on Sunday.

“From now Colombia alterations Colombia is distinct,” Petro explained to cheering supporters in Bogota’s live performance arena. “Change consists specifically in leaving powering sectarianism.”

“It is not a time for hate, this governing administration, which will commence on Aug. 7, is a federal government of existence,” he said.

Alejandro Forero, 40, who employs a wheelchair, cried as final results arrived in.

“At last, thank God. I know he will be a excellent president and he will enable these of us who are the very least privileged. This is going to modify for the superior,” reported Forero, who is unemployed.

Thousands of persons took to the streets in Bogota to rejoice, with some dancing near its largest polling area below intermittent rain.

This campaign was Petro’s 3rd presidential bid and his victory adds the Andean country to a checklist of Latin American countries that have elected progressives in new many years.

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Petro’s victory confirmed persons in Colombia – the place almost 50 percent the population lives in some kind of poverty – are eager to struggle inequality, said Daniela Cuellar of FTI Consulting.

“What the Colombian inhabitants demonstrated today is that they are trying to find a federal government centered on key social troubles,” she mentioned. “Colombia’s longstanding ailments of inequality, which were exacerbated by COVID-19, have contributed to the electorate in search of a change.”

But a fragmented congress, exactly where a dozen get-togethers have seats, will act as a verify on Petro’s proposals.

“Colombia’s institutional energy and rule of law surface adequately sturdy for the place to sustain financial balance,” Cuellar explained. “Moreover, campaigning is not governing, Petro’s policies will be far more moderate.”

“Even if he tries to pass radical reforms, he does not have the congressional aid to put into action them,” she additional.

Petro, 62, said he was tortured by the armed service when he was detained for his involvement with the guerrillas, and his prospective victory experienced high-position armed forces officials bracing for change. examine much more

Petro’s managing mate, Francia Marquez, a solitary mother and former housekeeper, will be the country’s 1st Afro-Colombian girl vice-president. examine a lot more

“Now I’m voting for my daughter – she turned 15 two weeks ago and asked for just one particular gift: that I vote for Petro,” said security guard Pedro Vargas, 48, in Bogota’s southwest on Sunday early morning.

“I hope this gentleman fulfills the hopes of my daughter, she has a whole lot of faith in his guarantees,” extra Vargas, who claimed he commonly does not vote.

Petro has also pledged to fully put into practice a 2016 peace deal with FARC rebels and search for talks with the however-active ELN guerrillas.

Market place JITTERS

Analysts have mentioned the proposed halt to oil growth could deliver investment in other places at a time when Colombia is having difficulties with very low credit history rankings, a huge trade deficit and nationwide credit card debt which has doubled to 72% of GDP above the previous decade.

Oil accounts for just about fifty percent of exports and near to 10% of nationwide revenue, but Petro argues new projects ought to be barred for environmental causes and to shift Colombia absent from dependence on the sector.

Petro has also promised to boost taxes and royalties on extractive industries and charge key landholders for unproductive land, boosting some $5.2 billion. He also proposes to increase up to $3.9 billion by progressively taxing companies.

“We consider on Tuesday both fascination costs on TES bonds and the trade price will depreciate, but we want to see what kind of rhetoric Petro gives us, what variety of cabinet he’ll give us,” mentioned Sergio Olarte, head economist for Colombia at Scotiabank.

Monday is a holiday getaway in Colombia.

“The magnitude of movements in the coming buying and selling sessions will count on the financial line that the new president features,” agreed David Cubides, head economist at Allianz brokerage, who reported he expects neighborhood marketplace volatility for the duration of the upcoming week.

Present President Ivan Duque tweeted he had called to congratulate Petro, and they have scheduled a meeting in coming days to guarantee a harmonious transition.

Colombian presidents are confined to 1 phrase.

Some 22.6 million folks voted, about 1.2 million far more than in the very first spherical. Some 2.3% of voters turned in protest votes, backing neither candidate.

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Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra, Oliver Griffin, Carlos Vargas, Luis Jaime Acosta and Julia Symmes Cobb
Crafting by Julia Symmes Cobb
Editing by Grant McCool, Chizu Nomiyama, Lisa Shumaker and Nick Zieminski

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