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Gustavo Petro

Gustavo Petro
GustavoPetro (cropped1).jpg
Petro in 2019
President-elect of Colombia
Assuming office
7 August 2022
Vice PresidentFrancia Márquez (elect)
SucceedingIván Duque
Member of the Senate
Assumed office
20 July 2018
In office
20 July 2006 – 20 July 2010
Mayor of Bogotá
In office
23 April 2014 – 31 December 2015
Preceded byMaría Mercedes Maldonado (acting)
Succeeded byEnrique Peñalosa
In office
1 January 2012 – 19 March 2014
Preceded byClara López Obregón
Succeeded byRafael Pardo (acting)
Member of the
House of Representatives
In office
20 July 1998 – 20 July 2006
ConstituencyCapital District
In office
1 December 1991 – 20 July 1994
ConstituencyCundinamarca
Personal details
Born
Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego

(1960-04-19) 19 April 1960 (age 62)
Ciénaga de Oro, Córdoba, Colombia
Political partyM-19 (1990–1997)
Alternative Way (1998–2002)
Regional Integration Movement (2002–2004)
Alternative Democratic Pole (2004–2010)
Humane Colombia (since 2011)
Other political
affiliations
Historic Pact for Colombia
Spouse(s)
Katia Burgos
(divorced)

Mary Luz Herrán
(m. 1992; div. 2003)

Verónica Alcocer
(m. 2003)
Children5
Alma materExternal University of Colombia
Graduate School of Public Administration
Pontifical Xavierian University
University of Salamanca
Signature
Websitegustavopetro.co

Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego (Spanish pronunciation: [ɡusˈtaβo fɾanˈsisko ˈpetɾo uˈreɣo]; born 19 April 1960) is a Colombian politician, economist, senator and is the president-elect of Colombia, elected on the 19th of June after a historic election campaign. He defeated Rodolfo Hernández in the second round of the 2022 presidential election on 19 June.

At 17 years of age, he became a member of the guerrilla group 19th of April Movement, which later evolved into the M-19 Democratic Alliance, a political party in which he was elected to be member of the Chamber of Representatives in the 1991 election. Petro served as a senator as a member of the Alternative Democratic Pole party following the 2006 parliamentary election with the second-largest vote in the country. In 2009, he resigned his position to run for President of Colombia in the 2010 presidential election, finishing fourth in the race.

After problems and ideological differences with the leaders of the Alternative Democratic Pole, he founded the movement Humane Colombia to compete for the mayoralty of Bogotá. On 30 October 2011, he was elected Mayor of Bogotá in the local elections of the city, a position he assumed on 1 January 2012. On 27 May 2018, he came second in the first round of the presidential election with over 25% of the votes and lost in the run-off election on 17 June.

Early life

Petro was born in Ciénaga de Oro, in the department of Córdoba, in 1960. His parents were farmers. He was baptized Gustavo Francisco in honor of his father and grandfather. Petro was raised in the Catholic religion and has stated that he has a vision of God from liberation theology, although he also questioned his existence.

Seeking a better future, Petro's family decided to migrate to the more prosperous Colombian inland town of Zipaquirá, just north of Bogotá, during the 1970s.

Petro studied at the Colegio de Hermanos de La Salle, where he founded the student newspaper Carta al Pueblo ("Letter to the People"). At the age of 17 he became a member of the 19th of April Movement, and was involved in activities. During his time in 19 April Petro became a leader, and was elected ombudsman of Zipaquirá in 1981 and councilman from 1984 to 1986.

M-19 militancy

At a young age (around 17) Petro became a member of the 19th of April Movement (M-19), a Colombian revolutionary organisation movement that emerged in 1974 in opposition to the National Front coalition after allegations of fraud in the 1970 election.

In 1985, Petro was arrested by the army for the crime of illegal possession of arms. He was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Education

Petro graduated in economics from the Universidad Externado de Colombia and began graduate studies at the Escuela Superior de Administración Pública (ESAP). Later, he earned a master's degree in economics from the Universidad Javeriana. He then traveled to Belgium, enrolling (but not graduating) in graduate studies in Economy and Human Rights in Université catholique de Louvain. He also has unfinished studies towards a doctoral degree in public administration from the University of Salamanca, in Spain.

Early political career

After the demobilization of the M-19 movement, former members of the group (including Petro) formed a political party called the M-19 Democratic Alliance which won a significant number of seats in the Chamber of Representatives in 1991, representing the department of Cundinamarca.

In 2002, Petro was elected to the Chamber of Representatives representing Bogotá, this time as a member of the Vía Alterna political movement he founded with former colleague Antonio Navarro Wolff and other former M-19 members. During this period he was named "Best Congressman", both by his own Congress colleagues and the press.

As a member of Vía Alterna, Petro created an electoral coalition with the Frente Social y Político to form the Independent Democratic Pole, which in 2005 fused with the Alternativa Democrática to form the Alternative Democratic Pole, joining a large number of leftist political figures.

In 2006, Petro was elected to the Senate, mobilizing the second highest voter turnout in the country. During this year he also exposed the Parapolitics scandal, accusing members and followers of the government of mingling with paramilitary groups in order to "reclaim" Colombia.

Opposition to the Uribe government

Senator Petro vehemently opposed the government of Álvaro Uribe. In 2005, while a member of the Chamber of Representatives, Petro denounced the lottery businesswoman Enilse López (also known as "La Gata" [the cat]). As of May 2009, she was imprisoned and under investigation for ties to the (now disbanded) paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). Petro alleged that the AUC financially contributed to the presidential campaign of Álvaro Uribe in 2002. Uribe refuted these statements by Petro but, during his presidential reelection campaign in 2006, admitted to having received financial support from Enilse López.

During Álvaro Uribe's second term as president, Petro encouraged debate on the Parapolitics scandal. In February 2007 Petro began a public verbal dispute with President Uribe when Petro suggested that the president should have recused himself from negotiating the demobilization process of paramilitaries in Colombia; this followed accusations that Uribe's brother, Santiago Uribe, was a former member of the Twelve Apostles paramilitary group in the mid-1990s. President Uribe responded by accusing Petro of being a "terrorist in civilian clothing" and by summoning the opposition to an open debate.

On 17 April 2007, Petro began a debate in Congress about CONVIVIR and the development of paramilitarism in Antioquia Department. During a two-hour speech he revealed a variety of documents demonstrating the relationship between members of the Colombian military, the current political leadership, narcotraffickers and paramilitary groups. Petro also criticized the actions of Álvaro Uribe as Governor of Antioquia Department during the CONVIVIR years, and presented an old photograph of Álvaro Uribe's brother, Santiago, alongside Colombian drug trafficker Fabio Ochoa Vázquez.

The Minister of Interior and Justice, Carlos Holguín Sardi and the Minister of Transport, Andrés Uriel Gallego, were asked to defend the president and his government. Both of them questioned Petro's past as a revolutionary member and accused him of "not condemning the warfare of violent people". Most of Petro's arguments were condemned as mud-slinging. The day after this debate the president said "I would have been a great guerrilla, because I wouldn't have been a guerrilla of mud, but a guerrilla of rifles. I would have been a military success, not a fake protagonist".

President Uribe's brother, Santiago Uribe, affirmed that his father and the Ochoa brothers had grown up together and were in the Paso Fino horse business together. He then mentioned that he also had many photographs, taken with many people.

On 18 April 2007 the Vigilance and Security Superintendency released a communique rejecting Petro's accusations concerning the CONVIVIR groups. The Superintendency said that many of the groups mentioned were authorized by the Departments of Sucre and Córdoba, but not by the Antioquia government; it also added that Álvaro Uribe, then Antioquia's governor, had eliminated the legal liability of eight CONVIVIR groups in 1997. It was also mentioned that the paramilitary leader known as "Julian Bolívar" had not yet been identified as such and was not associated with any CONVIVIR during the authorization of these groups.

Death threats

Petro has frequently reported threats against his life and the lives of his family, as well as persecution by government-run security organizations. On 7 May 2007 the Colombian army captured two Colombian Army intelligence non-commissioned officers that had been spying on Petro and his family in the municipality of Tenjo, Cundinamarca. These members had first identified themselves as members of the Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad (DAS) the Colombian Intelligence Agency but their claims were later denied by Andrés Peñate, director of the agency.

2010 presidential campaign

In 2008, Petro announced his interest in a presidential candidacy for 2010. He distanced himself from government policies and, along with Lucho Garzón and Maria Emma Mejia, led a dissenting faction within the Alternative Democratic Pole. Following Garzón's resignation from the party, Petro proposed a "great national accord to end Colombia's war," based on removing organized crime from power, cleaning up the judicial system, land reform, democratic socialism and a security policy differing considerably from the policies of President Uribe. On 27 September 2009, Gustavo Petro defeated Carlos Gaviria in a primary election as the Alternative Democratic Pole candidate for the 2010 presidential election.

In the presidential election held on 30 May 2010, Petro did better than polls had predicted. He obtained a total of 1,331,267 votes, 9.1% of the total, finishing as the fourth candidate in the vote total, behind Germán Vargas Lleras and ahead of Noemí Sanín.

Mayoralty of Bogotá (2012–2014; 2014–2015)

Mayor Petro in 2012.

During Petro's administration, measures such as the prohibition on the carrying of firearms were advanced, which led to the reduction of the homicide rate, reaching the lowest figure of the last two decades. In his government, interventions were carried out by the police in El Bronx sector of the city, where seizures of drugs and weapons were made. During the Petro administration, the Women's Secretariat was created and the LGBTI Citizenship Center was inaugurated, where 49 centers for birth control and abortion care were also created in cases permitted by law.

It was proposed as a government policy to conserve the wetlands of Bogotá and plan for the preservation of water in the face of global warming. Following order of the Constitutional Court, began a process of suppression of animal-drawn vehicles used by waste pickers putting many out of work, some were replaced by automotive vehicles and subsidies. In the area of public health, Mobile Attention Centers for Drug Addicts (CAMAD) were created. With these measures, the aim was to reduce the dependency of the destitute in the streets of the sector to the providers of narcotic drugs, providing psychological and medical assistance. During its administration, the District put into operation two primary-care clinics at the San Juan de Dios Hospital, closed in 2001. The Mayor promised that he would allocate resources to purchase the Hospital grounds and reopen one of the buildings of the complex. The project remained stopped due to the Cundinamarca government's suspension of the sale of the properties. On 11 February 2015, as mayor of Bogotá, the protocol ceremony for the reopening of the San Juan de Dios Hospital Complex was finally formalized. The District bought the hospital with a view to reopening it. During his last month in office, before the liquidation of Saludcoop on 1 December 2015, the district had difficulties with the new patients who became part of the EPS Capital Salud.[citation needed]

In his government, the application of the Integrated Public Transport System (SITP) began, inaugurated in mid-2012. Likewise, during the administration of Petro, subsidies paid by the District to reduce Transmilenio tariffs were created. In turn, since early 2014 the administration provided a 40% subsidy for the value of the ticket for the population affiliated to SISBEN 1 and 2, for which it allocated 138 billion pesos. This subsidy is not delivered immediately, as it requires registration in a database, and is valid only for 21 passages when using the blue buses of the SITP.[citation needed]

The construction of a subway for the city was one undelivered proposal. During his administration, he contracted studies of the subway infrastructure to a Colombian-Spanish company for $70,000 million pesos, which successfully ended at the end of 2014. Approval from the federal government was necessary to begin construction, but the Santos' administration refused to authorize it. The subway plans contracted by Petro's administration were discarded by his successor Enrique Peñalosa, who opted for an elevated railway system with lower investment required and better coverage, allegedly. These claims have been refuted by several independent studies who have found out that both the social and economic cost of an elevated railway system is higher than the original underground railway system planned by the previous administration.[citation needed]

Recall

Petro in 2013

During his administration as mayor, Petro faced a recall process started by opposition parties and supported by the signatures of more than 600,000 citizens. After the legal verification, 357,250 signatures were validated, many more than legally required to start the process. On 9 December 2013, he was removed from his seat and banned from political activity for 15 years, by Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez Maldonado, following the sanctions stipulated by the law. His sanction was allegedly caused by mismanagement and illegal decrees signed during the implementation of his waste collection system. This led to a protest who deemed the Inspector's move as controversial, politically biased and un-democratic.

Despite being granted an injunction by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which suspended the sanction imposed by Inspector General Ordoñez, President Juan Manuel Santos upheld the removal and Petro was removed from office 19 March 2014. For his temporary replacement, Santos appointed as Mayor the Labor Minister, Rafael Pardo. On 19 April 2014, a magistrate from the Superior Tribunal of Bogotá ordered the president to obey the recommendations laid out by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Petro was reinstated as mayor on 23 April 2014 and finished the length of his term.

2018 presidential campaign

Petro and his running mate Ángela Robledo (far left) receiving endorsements from Antanas Mockus (third from left) and Claudia López Hernández (third from right) at an event in Bogotá, during the campaign for the second round, June 2018

In 2018, Gustavo Petro was again a presidential candidate, this time getting the second best result in voting counting, in the first round on 27 May, and advanced to the second round. His campaign was run by publicists Ángel Beccassino, Alberto Cienfuegos and Luis Fernando Pardo. A lawsuit was filed by citizens against Duque alleging bribery and fraud. The News chain Wradio made public the law suit 11 July, which was presented to the CNE (Consejo Nacional Electoral, National Electoral Council, by its acronym in Spanish). The state of the law suit will be defined by the Magistrado Alberto Yepes.

Petro's platform emphasized support for universal health care, public banking, a rejection of proposals to expand fracking and mining in favor of investing in clean energy, and land reform. Before the runoff, Petro received endorsements from senator-elect Antanas Mockus and senator Claudia López Hernández, both members of the Green Alliance.

In the second round of voting, Petro's right-wing opponent, Iván Duque, won the election with more than 10 million votes, while Petro took second place with 8 million votes. Duque was inaugurated on 7 August; meanwhile, Petro returned to the Senate.

He received death threats from the paramilitary group Águilas Negras.

2022 presidential campaign

Petro with former Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in 2022

In 2021 Gustavo Petro declared that he would be running in the 2022 elections. In September 2021, Petro announced that if his campaign were not to succeed, he would retire from politics and said that he does not intend to be an "eternal candidate". Petro’s campaign platform included promoting green energy over fossil fuels and a decrease in economic inequality. He has promised to focus on climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause it by ending fossil fuel exploration in Colombia. He also pledged to raise taxes on the wealthiest 4,000 Colombians and said that neoliberalism would ultimately "destroy the country". Petro has also announced that he would be open to having president Iván Duque stand trial for police brutality committed during the 2021 Colombian protests. Furthermore, he promised to establish the ministry of equality. Following his victory in the Historic Pact primary, Petro selected Afro-Colombian human rights and environmental activist and recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, Francia Márquez, to be his running mate.

Among the key points of his program, he proposes an agrarian reform to restore productivity to 15 million hectares of land to end "narco-latifundism"; a halt to all new oil exploration in order to wean the country off its dependence on the extractive and fossil fuel industries, a plan that has been widely criticized for its fiscal irresponsibility since this sector accounts for over half of Colombia's export revenues (54.6% as of March 2022); infrastructure for access to water and development of the rail network; investment in public education and research; tax reform and reform of the largely privatized health system. Petro announced that his first act as president will be to declare a state of economic emergency to combat widespread hunger. He is advocating progressive proposals on women's rights and LGBTQ issues. Petro has also stated that he would restore diplomatic relations with Venezuela.

Petro and his running mate Francia Márquez faced numerous death threats from paramilitary groups while on the campaign trail. Petro cancelled rallies in Colombiaʼs coffee region in early May 2022 after his security team uncovered an alleged plot by the La Cordillera gang. In response to this and many other similar situations, 90 elected officials and prominent individuals from over 20 countries signed an open letter expressing concern and condemnation of attempts of political violence against Márquez and Petro. The letter also highlighted the assassination of over 50 social leaders, trade unionists, environmentalists and other community representatives in 2022. Signatories of the letter included former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky and member of the French National Assembly Jean-Luc Mélenchon. During the campaign, Petro received support from foreign politicians, such as former Uruguayan president José Mujica and former Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

During the campaign his opponents claimed that he planed expropriation measures if he becomes president, and claimed similarities with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Proposals from Petro to change the nation’s economic model were criticized for increasing taxes on unproductive landowners and for upsetting oil and coal investors by his platform to move to clean energy. Some critics said his efforts to shift more of Colombia's wealth to the poor could turn Colombia into another Venezuela. Critics also compare his ideas to those the early days of Hugo Chávez's government in Venezuela. In response to the attacks, he signed a public document on 18 April in which he pledged not to carry out any type of expropriation if elected. During a presidential debate hosted by El Tiempo on 14 March, candidates responded to a question about relations with Venezuela and Nicolás Maduro. Whilst other participants responded by stating Venezuela is a dictatorship and expressing reluctance toward restoring relations, Petro replied, "if the theory is that with a dictatorship you can't have diplomatic relations, and Venezuela is, [then] why does this government have relations with the United Arab Emirates, which is a dictatorship, perhaps worse [than Venezuela]?" He also stated that diplomatic relations are established with nations and not with individuals. Whilst Petro has praised former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez for bolstering equality, Petro said during an interview with French newspaper Le Monde in May 2022 that Chávez made a "serious mistake of linking his social program to oil revenues." He also criticised Venezuela's commitment to oil by president Maduro. Petro argued that "Maduro's Venezuela and Duque's Colombia are more similar than they seem", pointing to the Duque administration's commitment to non-renewable energy and the "authoritarian drift" of both governments. General Eduardo Zapateiro, commander of the National Army of Colombia, also criticised Petro during the campaign, causing controversy.

Petro received the most votes in the first round held on 29 May but did not attain over 50%, required to avoid a second round. He and Márquez will face the former mayor of Bucaramanga and businessman, Rodolfo Hernández and his running mate Marelen Castillo in the run-off scheduled for 19 June. Shortly after the first round, Luis Gilberto Murillo, who was on the Hope Center Coalition ticket as the running mate of Sergio Fajardo, endorsed Petro for the second round.

This page was last updated at 2022-06-19 22:33 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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