A former guerilla fighter Gustavo Petro, leader of Colombia Humana, also known as the Progressive Movement, was elected President of Colombia on Sunday, beating his opponent Rodolfo Hernández, a business mogul, by a small margin.
The Colombian election results mark an extraordinary occasion in the country’s political history as it will be the first time a left-wing politician will take over the administration as president.
Petro’s victory followed similar victories for the left in Peru in April 2021, Honduras in November 2021 and Chile in November 2021.
Joining the ranks of the M-19 guerilla group in late 1970s as a very young man, Petro later shifted to the legal political struggle as the guerilla group itself evolved into a political party, the M-19 Democratic Alliance, with which he was elected as a member of the Chamber of Representatives in the 1991 Colombian parliamentary election, when he was just 31.
He has frequently reported threats against his life and the lives of his family, as well as persecution by security organisations. In 2007, two Colombian Army intelligence non-commissioned officers were caught spying on Petro and his family.
In October 2011, he was elected mayor of the Colombian capital Bogotá in the local elections.
In the first round of the 2018 Colombian presidential election on 27 May, he came second with over 25% of the vote, but lost in the run-off election on 17 June.
Petro’s vice-president will be Francia Márquez, a prominent defender of human and environmental rights, marking the first time a black woman is elected to the post.
“Today all women win. We are facing the greatest possibility of change in recent times,” tweeted Márquez as polls closed on Sunday afternoon.