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Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez have achieved a historic victory for the left – so who are they?

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It was, mentioned Francia Márquez Mina, a victory for “the nobodies”. Talking in Bogota on June 19 after the outcomes of the Colombian presidential election had been introduced, the newly elected vice-president struck a jubilant observe after turning into the primary black lady to be elected to the workplace – on a ticket with former guerrilla fighter Gustavo Petro, the nation’s first left-wing president.

After 214 years now we have achieved a authorities of the individuals, a well-liked authorities, a authorities of individuals with calloused arms.

Petro and Márquez beat millionaire businessman Rodolfo Hernández, taking 50.5% of the votes. Their platform largely centered on financial and environmental issues, together with a pledge to tax the wealthy, fight revenue inequality, reform healthcare and pension techniques, promote peace and deal with corruption.

However first they should deliver an finish to what Márquez calls the “politics of demise”, which has a protracted historical past in Colombia. In 2016, a peace deal was signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), bringing to an finish 60 years of armed battle with this guerrilla faction. However violence has not ceased, and since 2016, over 1,200 human rights activists have been killed – 89 in 2022 – and 21 former Farc fighters murdered this yr to this point.

Colombians have voted towards a long time of dispossession and violence. Quite a few firsts have been achieved with this election end result. It’s the first time in Colombian historical past that leftist candidates have made it alive to the ultimate spherical of an election – however fixed demise threats throughout the marketing campaign. It is usually the primary time that an ex-guerrilla has been elected to the highest job, and {that a} black lady, sufferer of the armed battle, will occupy the vice-presidency.

Petro, 62, was a fighter with the M-19 guerrilla group, a leftist armed guerrilla faction, principally city, that operated from 1974 till disarmament in 1990. After the 1990 peace course of, M-19 performed a key position within the constitutional reform of 1991. Since then, Petro has been consistently concerned in mainstream Colombian politics: he has served as mayor of Bogotá and was a senator till the election.

Márquez, 40, comes from the war-torn division of Cauca in Colombia. She turned an activist on the age of 13, and a mom on the age of 16. In 2018, she gained the Goldman environmental prize for mobilising girls to halt unlawful mining in her territory. As she informed a rally throughout the election marketing campaign: “I’ve not requested to be in politics. However politics messed with me and now, we’re messing along with her.”



Learn extra:
Inside a reintegration camp for Colombia’s ex-guerrilla fighters: ‘Phrases of reconciliation are our solely weapons now’


Multi-faceted victory

The alliance of Petro and Márquez was well timed, refreshing and extremely strategic. Bogotá-based journalist Camila Osorio has recognized 4 key long-term components that influenced this shift in Colombian politics. Importantly, the revised structure in 1991 included a requirement for range in Colombian politics. This has led to a wider array of voices and opinions within the public sphere. In the meantime, the 2016 peace settlement modified the narrative concerning the left and its affiliation with the guerrillas. This then made method for the widespread protests of 2019 and 2021 which generated mass help for a wider and extra inclusive political dialog.

Thumbs up: Gustavo Petro after being ratified as Colombian president, June 2022.
EPA-EFE/Mauricio Duenas Castaneda

The success of Petro and Márquez is a legacy of the nation-wide mobilisations of the left over a long time , which has included fixed activism from grassroots NGOs, feminist and antiracist collectives, underground scholar associations, guerrilla teams and the Communist Get together, which was compelled to go clandestine due to political persecution.

stay tasty or dwelling with dignity

Nevertheless, it was, above all, girls, Afro-Colombians, Indigenous individuals and the dispossessed that assured the election of Petro and Márquez. Petro’s marketing campaign for the second spherical has been in a position to mobilise strategic cities equivalent to Cali and Bogotá that had been key to the 2019 and 2021 social protests. The 2 leaders had been additionally very profitable at getting the vote out, combating apathy and abstention.

Vice President-elect Francia Marquez, surrounded by women activists at the presentation of the final report of the Truth Commission in Bogota, Colombia
Peace is the phrase: Francia Marquez on the presentation of the ultimate report of the Fact Fee in Bogota, Colombia, June 2022.
EPA-EFE/Mauricio Duenas Castaneda

It was Márquez’s longstanding activism that was key to rallying voters. Her skill to mobilise the Colombians dwelling overseas, was an vital issue. However years of expertise as a black activist, a feminist and a consultant of victims of the armed battle meant Márquez was in a position to characterize herself because the embodiment of the grassroots battle for change in Colombia.

Reclaiming publicly Afro-Colombian outfits and brazenly advocating for intersectional feminism, Márquez’s predominant marketing campaign slogan was stay tastywhich interprets as “to stay with flavour”. It’s an Afro-Colombian conception of “dwelling with out worry; it refers to dwelling in dignity; it refers to dwelling a life with rights assured”, in keeping with Márquez. Petro, in the meantime, known as for a “politics of affection” in his victory speech – which he outlined as “a politics of understanding, a politics of dialogue, of understanding each other”.

This optimistic, inclusive language from Petro and Márquez stands in stark distinction to Colombia’s conventional political discourse, which has tended to deal with the wants of political and social elites and has largely ignored the extra marginalised sectors of society. Their marketing campaign rhetoric was geared in direction of prioritising the wants of all of Colombia after a long time of armed violence and inequality.

They are going to face a raft of challenges – principal amongst that are the inequalities nonetheless rampant in Colombia in addition to persevering with political violence. The cultivation of coca has been on the rise once more since 2018, corruption stays entrenched, as does longstanding structural oppression, equivalent to gender-based violence, class divisions and racism.

Making an attempt to realize this degree of social and financial reform can be extraordinarily troublesome. As their election victory suggests, the nation stays deeply divided and there are vital pursuits lined up in opposition. The pair have acquired – and proceed to obtain – common demise threats. However their skill to mobilise a broad array of social actions and mass-based collectives will definitely give them a robust life power to confront the subsequent 4 years.

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