Leftist Gustavo Petro wins Colombia’s presidential election

BOGOTA, Colombia

Former guerrilla member Gustavo Petro was elected Colombia’s president Sunday in a historic victory for the left in Latin America.

With almost 99% of the vote counted, Petro won 50% compared with 47% for his opponent, Rodolfo Hernandez, according to figures published by Colombia´s electoral authority.

For months now, Petro has been touring Colombia, advocating change in a country that has recently seen its population rise up in protest against poverty, inequality and a lack of opportunity.

Petro, a 62-year-old legislator, was a member of the M-19 guerrilla group, which demobilized in the early 1990s. He later became a senator and the mayor of Colombia’s capital, Bogota. In his third attempt for the presidency, he has been promising to redistribute the country’s pension system and end oil extraction.

Voters are pinning their hopes on Petro and Francia Marquez, who has become the country’s first Black female vice president, to bring about change.

Petro received the results of the presidential election at one of the largest indoor stadiums and event centers in the country, where he will speak in front of hundreds of people following his win.

“Today is a day of celebration for the people. Let them celebrate the first popular victory. May so much suffering be cushioned in the joy that today floods the heart of our country,” Petro said on his Twitter account.

Hernandez won his votes on social media — where he had the majority of his followers — by slamming the traditional political class and promising to end corruption, one of the country’s rampant evils.

He waited for the election results at his home in Santander, as he did in the first round.

After a long and polarizing campaign dominated by death threats, leaked videos and fake news, Hernandez acknowledged his defeat on Sunday.

In his speech, he accepted the results and asked Petro not to disappoint those who trusted him.

“Thank you very much to all Colombians for having accepted my proposals, even if I was the loser,” he said.

Although Petro obtained 40% of the vote against 28% for Hernandez in the first electoral round, recent polls showed that the candidates were neck and neck competing for every single vote until the very last moment.

Outgoing President Ivan Duque offered his government’s full support during the transition.

“I called Gustavo Petro to congratulate him as president-elect of the Colombian people. We agreed to meet in the coming days to begin a harmonious, institutional and transparent transition,” Duque tweeted.

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