WORLD / AMERICAS
Left-wing leader’s victory sparks joy across Latin America
Petro sweeps Columbian election
Published: Jun 20, 2022 06:29 PM
People check a list with ID numbers in front of a polling station in Bogota on March 13, 2022. Colombians began voting this Sunday to elect a new Congress and define the list of candidates that will face Senator Gustavo Petro in the presidential elections on May 29, 2022. Photo: AFP

People check a list with ID numbers in front of a polling station in Bogota on March 13, 2022. Colombians began voting this Sunday to elect a new Congress and define the list of candidates that will face Senator Gustavo Petro in the presidential elections on May 29, 2022. Photo: AFP


Gustavo Petro's election on Sunday as the first left-wing president in Colombia's history sparked joy among fellow Latin American leaders with similar ideologies.

It continued a trend in recent years that has seen many countries in the region swing to the left, although some would argue those are populist moves as much as ideological ones.

Argentina, Peru, Chile, Mexico, Bolivia and Honduras have all moved to the left in their last elections and Petro's victory sparked a feeling of fraternity amongst these leaders.

"Your victory validates democracy and ensures the path towards an integrated Latin America in this time when we demand maximum solidarity amongst brother peoples," said Argentina President Alberto Fernandez on Twitter.

Chile President Gabriel Boric, who was elected earlier in 2022 to replace conservative Sebastian Pinera, said Petro's victory was a "joy for Latin America."

"We will work together for the unity of our continent in the challenges of a world changing rapidly," he tweeted.

Peru's Pedro Castillo, a rural school teacher and trade unionist, said he looked forward to working with an ally, something that has been in short supply in his homeland where the right-wing opposition dominates congress.

"We are united by a common feeling that seeks improved collective, social and regional integration for our peoples," he said.

"Latin American integration is strengthened," added Bolivia's Luis Arce.

Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that  said Petro's success could heal the wounds in a country in which political assassinations are not uncommon.

He referenced the 10-year Colombian civil war that broke out following the 1948 assassination of leftist presidential candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitan and was the precursor to the six-decade-long conflict between the state and left-wing guerrillas.

"Today's triumph can be the end of this curse and the awakening for this brotherly and dignified people," said Lopez Obrador.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has a fraught relationship with the outgoing conservative Colombian President Ivan Duque, was also jubilant.

"The will of the Colombian people has been heard, it went out to defend the path to democracy and peace," said Maduro, who has been branded a "dictator" by the opposition in his own country.

There were also warm regards from one of the few remaining conservative leaders in South America, neighboring Ecuador's Guillermo Lasso.

He said he spoke to Petro by telephone and "reiterated the availability of our government to strengthen friendship and cooperation, prioritizing development and the integration of our peoples."

AFP