Colombia’s shift to the left wing: A new ‘pink wave’ in Latin America? | Vote

The sun is rising on a new day for Colombians, especially for those whom Vice President-elect Francia Marquez calls “those without opportunities”: women, indigenous communities, Afro- Colombia, LGBTQ+, the working class, the disabled and all others have been disproportionately impacted by poverty, state violence, discrimination and environmental destruction in the country.

On Sunday, former Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro and vice-presidential candidate, environmental activist Marquez, made history by winning more than 50% of the total vote in Colombia’s presidential and spontaneous elections. established the country’s first leftist, progressive government.

This is not an easy victory. In the second round of the election, Gustavo and Francia were against Right-wing construction magnate Rodolfo Hernandez who has the backing of outgoing Conservative Chairman Ivan Duque, the right-wing “Centro Democrat” party that has been in power for more than two decades, as well as the media and powerful elites.

Although running aggressively and well-funded campaign focused on anti-corruptionHowever, Hernandez – who is ironically facing corruption charges – was unable to win enough support to secure the presidency. In an election that saw the highest turnout in Colombian history, millions chose instead to vote for a left-wing anti-establishment duo promising economic and social change. profound association.

Petro and Marquez’s success is no accident – years of grassroots organization and left-wing coalition building have led to this moment. Indeed, there were signs of a progressive change in Colombia long before this election.

In late 2019, when President Duque’s right-wing government proposed lowering the minimum wage for workers under 25, young people grew tired of decades of austerity and marginalized society. Unions took to the streets across Colombia, initiating a “paro nacional” (national strike) that brought the country to a standstill. Strikes and protests continued even as the COVID-19 pandemic peaked. In April 2021, the government’s proposed tax hike, corruption and healthcare reform sparked a new wave of protests. People started taking to the streets to demand better education, public transport and healthcare, and to express their displeasure with the government, in most cities. The government has responded to the protests with violence. At least 44 protesters were killed and hundreds injured, according to the United Nations.

As Petro and Marquez began their election campaign in 2022, the unmet demands of the “special national” and subsequent grassroots protests still occupied the minds of many Colombians. . Despite strong grassroots resistance, people are clearly ready for – and actively demanding – systemic change. However, campaign proposals made by Petro and Marquez still relatively modest: they promised a tax reform that would give the state more money to spend on efforts to improve the country’s education and health systems and end its reliance on natural resources. Colombia’s fossil fuels through a legitimate energy transition. However, the right-wing organization considers the modest proposal “too ambitious”, “unrealistic” and even “counterproductive” – ​​perhaps because the Petro plans to raise the necessary additional funding not by by raising taxes on food items like President Duque, but by increasing taxes on the country’s 4,000 wealthiest families, removing some of the corporate tax benefits, increasing some import taxes, and targeting on tax evaders.

Petro and Marquez’s election victory is the beginning of a new, positive chapter not only in Colombia but also the whole areafor many reasons.

First and foremost, Petro won the presidential election with the promise of making Colombia a leader in the fight against global climate change. He repeatedly stressed his determination to improve the standard of living of Colombians while also working towards saving the Amazon rainforest. In its victory speech, the Petro explicitly called on other progressive leaders in Latin America to make ending their countries’ dependence on fossil fuels part of their plan to achieve this. economic and social justice.

What Petro said in his victory speech was a reiteration of many of the climate change-related proposals he made during his campaign, such as an immediate ban on Unique oilfields, experimental mining and offshore wells development projects, and a new end to fossil fuel exploration permits.

Instead of producing and consuming fossil fuels, which have brought so much destruction, displacement and violence to Colombia, Gustavo Petro and Francia Marquez are committed to building a new green economy. The single energy transition that Colombia is currently committed to under the guidance of the new government will give environmental movements across Latin America and the world a blueprint for success.

The results of the Colombian presidential election will also inspire progressive social movements around the world. Petro and Marquez have clearly shown that resolute grassroots organization and coalition-building can work even against major resistance from the right-wing establishment. Throughout this election season, Petro’s opponents have highlighted his past involvement in the M19 rebel group, which was discharged in the 1990s, to turn the Colombian people against him. When this didn’t work, they began to distort the promises he had made in his manifesto to make him look like an unknown candidate unable to cope with the challenges the land faced. water to face. But not a single smear campaign has succeeded because of the strong relationship Petro and Marquez forged with indigenous communities, Afro-Colombian people, farmers, women, gender-diverse people, and multiple constituencies other strategies in recent years.

Overall, the election victory of Petro and Marquez is not only a victory for Colombians but also for all the peoples of the region because it marks the beginning of a new “pink wave” in the country. Latin America – the emergence of a new wave of socialism set the environment. justice is at its core, and is willing to change the way we live and relate to each other to protect our common future.

The next four years won’t be easy for Colombia’s new government, as they will need to work against a brutal but still powerful right-wing establishment hungry to regain power. But despite all the challenges that still lie ahead, with the Petro and Marquez at the helm, “NGOs” in Colombia and across the region can now accelerate their efforts to build building an inclusive, just and prosperous future for all, free from the threat of violence, hunger and climate devastation.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the editorial views of Al Jazeera.

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