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Colombia’s shift to the left: A brand new ‘pink tide’ in Latin America? | Elections


The solar is rising on a brand new day for Colombians, particularly for individuals who Vice President-elect Francia Marquez calls the “nobodies”: girls, Indigenous communities, Afro-Colombians, LGBTQ+, working class, disabled folks and all of the others who’ve been disproportionately impacted by poverty, state violence, discrimination and environmental destruction within the nation.

On Sunday, former Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro and his candidate for vp, environmental activist Marquez, made historical past by securing greater than 50 p.c of all votes in Colombia’s presidential election and setting themselves as much as kind the nation’s first-ever left-wing, progressive authorities.

This was not a simple victory. Within the second spherical of the election, Gustavo and Francia ran towards right-wing building magnate Rodolfo Hernandez who had the backing of the outgoing Conservative President Ivan Duque, the right-wing “Centro Democratic” social gathering that has been in energy for greater than twenty years, in addition to the media and highly effective elites.

Regardless of operating an aggressive and well-funded marketing campaign targeted on anti-corruption, nevertheless, Hernandez – who’s sarcastically going through corruption allegations of his personal – did not win over sufficient assist to safe the presidency. In an election that noticed the best turnout in Colombian historical past, thousands and thousands selected as an alternative to vote for a left-wing anti-establishment duo promising profound social and financial change.

Petro and Marquez’ success was not unintentional – years of grassroots organising and left-wing coalition constructing led to this second. Certainly, there have been indicators of a progressive shift in Colombia lengthy earlier than this election.

In late 2019, when the right-wing authorities of President Duque proposed to decrease the minimal wage for staff beneath 25 years previous, younger folks bored with a long time of austerity and marginalisation took to the streets throughout Colombia, initiating a “paro nacional” (nationwide strike) that introduced the nation to a standstill. Strike motion and protests continued even on the top of the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2021, a rise in taxes, corruption and healthcare reform proposed by the federal government triggered a brand new protest wave. Individuals began taking to the streets to demand higher training, public transportation and healthcare, and to voice their grievances with the federal government, in virtually all cities. The federal government responded to the protests with violence. At the very least 44 protesters have been killed and tons of have been injured, based on the United Nations.

When Petro and Marquez began their electoral marketing campaign in 2022, the unmet calls for of the “paro nacional” and grassroots protests that adopted nonetheless occupied the minds of many Colombians. Regardless of robust resistance from the institution, folks have been clearly prepared for – and actively demanding – systemic change. However, the marketing campaign proposals put ahead by Petro and Marquez have been nonetheless comparatively modest: they promised a tax reform that would offer the state with additional funds to spend on efforts to enhance the nation’s training and well being programs and to finish Colombia’s fossil gas dependence by means of a simply vitality transition. Nonetheless, the right-wing institution argued that the modest proposal was “too bold”, “unrealistic” and even “counterproductive” – maybe as a result of Petro plans to amass much-needed additional funds not by rising taxes on meals gadgets like President Duque, however by elevating taxes on the nation’s 4,000 wealthiest households, eradicating some company tax advantages, elevating some import tariffs and concentrating on tax evaders.

Petro and Marquez’ election victory is the start of a brand new, constructive chapter not solely in Colombia however your complete area, for a number of causes.

Initially, Petro received the presidency on a promise to make Colombia a frontrunner within the international combat towards local weather change. He repeatedly emphasised his willpower to higher the dwelling requirements of Colombians whereas additionally working in the direction of saving the Amazon rainforest. In his victory speech, Petro explicitly referred to as upon different progressive leaders in Latin America to make ending their international locations’ dependence on fossil fuels part of their plans for reaching financial and social justice.

What Petro stated in his victory speech was a reiteration of the various local weather change-related proposals he tabled throughout his marketing campaign, corresponding to an instantaneous ban on unconventional oil fields, fracking pilot tasks, and the event of offshore wells, and an finish to new licences for fossil gas exploration.

As a substitute of fossil gas manufacturing and consumption, which has introduced a lot destruction, displacement and violence to Colombia, Gustavo Petro and Francia Marquez are dedicated to constructing a brand new, inexperienced financial system. The simply vitality transition that Colombia is now dedicated to endeavor beneath the steerage of its new authorities will present environmental actions throughout Latin America and the world with a blueprint for fulfillment.

The outcomes of Colombia’s presidential election may even be a supply of inspiration for progressive social actions the world over. Petro and Marquez clearly confirmed that decided grassroots organising and coalition constructing can obtain outcomes even towards an enormous pushback from the right-wing institution. All through this election season, Petro’s rivals highlighted his previous involvement within the M19 insurgent group, which demobilised within the Nineteen Nineties, to show Colombian folks towards him. When this didn’t work, they began distorting the guarantees he made in his manifesto to make him appear to be an unserious candidate who can’t deal with the challenges going through the nation. However none of those smear campaigns succeeded because of the robust bonds Petro and Marquez constructed with Indigenous communities, Afro-Colombians, peasants, girls, gender-diverse folks and lots of different strategic constituencies over time.

All in all, Petro and Marquez’ election victory shouldn’t be solely a win for Colombians however all peoples of the area as a result of it marks the start of a brand new “pink tide” in Latin America – the emergence of a brand new wave of socialism that places local weather justice at its core, and is able to rework the methods we dwell and relate to one another to guard our collective future.

The subsequent 4 years won’t be straightforward for Colombia’s new authorities, because it might want to work towards a bruised however nonetheless robust right-wing institution that’s determined to take again energy. However regardless of all of the challenges nonetheless on the horizon, with Petro and Marquez in energy, “nobodies” in Colombia and throughout the area can now pace up their efforts to construct an inclusive, simply and affluent future for all that is freed from threats of violence, starvation and local weather devastation.

The views expressed on this article are the authors’ personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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