Gustavo Petro

Article

July 5, 2022

Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego, born April 19, 1960 in Ciénaga de Oro, is a Colombian politician. On June 19, 2022, he was elected President of Colombia. Former militant of the urban guerrilla movement M-19, graduate in development studies (1996) from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, Gustavo Petro is mayor of the capital Bogota between 2012 and 2015. After his defeat in the second round of the Colombian presidential election of 2018, he became a senator on July 20, 2018. In 2022, he is running for the country's presidency again with environmental activist Francia Márquez. After coming out on top in the first round, he beat Rodolfo Hernández in the second and became the first Colombian president from the left.

Political career

Coming from a modest family, educated by priests, Gustavo Petro joined at the age of 17 the Bolivarian guerrillas of the April 19 Movement, founded in 1970 and dissolved in 1990. While in hiding he used the pseudonym of Aureliano, character from the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. He was arrested and tortured by the army. A Catholic, his political ideals are influenced by Liberation Theology. An economist, he was a member of the left-wing Alternative Democratic Pole from 2005 to 2010, before creating the Progressive Movement in 2011. He was a member of the House of Representatives from 1991 to 1994 and from 1998 to 2006. He was then a senator from 2006 to 2010. Subject to frequent death threats, he was forced into four years of exile. As a parliamentarian, he denounces " parapolitics ", the relations between elected representatives of the presidential majority and the paramilitary militias which help them to be re-elected by getting rid of their opponents. It also helps to publicize the scandal of false positives (executions of thousands of civilians by the army in order to present them as guerrillas killed in combat). Finally, he attacks the DAS, the Colombian secret service, accused of being used by President Álvaro Uribe to neutralize his political opponents. He is a candidate for the presidential election in 2010 but fails in the first round with just over 9% of the vote.

Mayor of Bogotá

On October 30, 2011, Gustavo Petro won the victory in the municipal election of Bogota with 32.16% of the vote. He took office on January 1, 2012. He is the first ex-guerrilla to hold such an important position in Colombia. It is committed to the themes of gender equality and respect for the rights of sexual minorities. He tries to put an end to the practice of bullfighting but comes up against the Constitutional Court. In 2012, he opposed right-wing municipal councilors over the responsibility for garbage collection, which he wanted to dispossess from private companies accused of behaving like a “mafia”, to transfer it to a public company. The disagreement generates in December important difficulties in the garbage collection. In June 2013, an official petition was filed by a parliamentarian from the right-wing government majority in order to organize a referendum to dismiss Petro from his position as mayor. On December 9, 2013, he was dismissed from his post as mayor by Attorney General Alejandro Ordoñez, close to the government and already responsible for the dismissal of more than 800 mayors, for "violation of the constitutional principles of competition", and banned to exercise any public function for a period of 15 years. Petro appealed against this decision, but it was confirmed on March 18, 2014 by the Council of State. Despite an injunction from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, President Juan Manuel Santos ratifies the dismissal the next day and appoints his Minister of Labor Rafael Pardo as interim mayor. However