Editing History

A comment on the plurality of a million voices of the historic Pact coalition was overflowing with enthusiasm: “June 19 will be remembered [in Colombia] as a day of the people and will be a time of celebration for democracy… Today was a day to change history.

In the second round, the team of Gustavo Petro for president and Francia Marquez for vice-president obtained 50.5% of the votes. Loose-lipped right-wing construction and real estate mogul Rodolfo Hernandez, a candidate for the ad hoc Anti-Corruption Governors League party, won 47.2%.

This was the third presidential campaign for Petro, a senator and former urban guerrilla and mayor of Bogota, who won 40.3% of the vote in the first round on May 29. He and Vice President-elect Francia Marquez take office on August 7.

The historic significance of this electoral victory in Colombia cannot be overstated. No real popular government has ever reigned in Colombia. In the 20th century, prominent presidential aspirants on the people’s side were assassinated. Finally, the corrupt and deadly grip on power of former President Alvaro Uribe and his protege Iván Duque, who are now leaving office, is over. Above all, the victory of the historic Pact justifies the nationwide mobilizations and demonstrations which, with increasing intensity from 2018 onwards, have been led by young people and social movements.

Savoring their victory, candidates and voters from all sides took on new hope. They are counting on an end to the deadly violence and dispossession that mark decades of history, and an end to the marginalization and rampant poverty that diminish the lives of multitudes of Colombians.

The rise to Colombian vice-presidency of award-winning African-descendant lawyer and environmental activist Francia Marquez, of humble origins, potentially brings hope to subsistence farmers, Afro-Colombians and oppressed indigenous peoples of Colombia.

The winners of the historic Pact represent the hope of a vigilant world of militant solidarity. In this regard, they now join Presidents Lopez Obrador of Mexico, Fernandez of Argentina, Ortega of Nicaragua, Castillo of Peru, Xiomara Castro of Honduras, Arce and Morales of Bolivia and Boric of Chile. Added to this constellation of leftist Latin American presidents is the stubborn persistence of the progressive Venezuelan government and Cuban socialism. The general message is that real change is possible, despite American interventions and almost open warfare.

Addressing Colombians after his victory, Petro declared his intention to “make Colombia a world power for life”. [which would consist] first of peace, second of social justice and third of environmental justice”.

Highlighting key passages from Petro’s remarks, observer Ollantay Itzamna identifies encouraging signs. He cites the president-elect’s references to war: “clandestine cemeteries”, American air bases, Colombia’s association with NATO, paramilitaries and drug trafficking. Reflecting on Petro’s call for social justice, Itzamna calls Colombia’s inequalities the most pronounced in the region, except for Honduras and Brazil. He mentions that 2% of landowners control 90% of useful agricultural land in Colombia.

Petro would have “the polluter to pay or repair the damage done to “nature”. He called for a “transition to clean energy sources”.

Extract: “The electoral victory of the Colombians Petro and Marquez is unprecedented”.

Courtesy of: Counterpunch.org