Colombia to swear in Gustavo Petro as president | News | DW

Gustavo Petro, a former member of Colombia’s M-19 guerrilla group, is scheduled to be sworn in as the country’s first left-leaning president at a ceremony in the capital Bogota on Sunday.

Around 100,000 people, including the Spanish King Felipe VI. and at least nine Latin American presidents, are expected to watch as he is sworn in as head of state and government by Senate leader Roy Barreras.

“New form of governance”

Petro press chief Marisol Rojas said the event will usher in a more inclusive form of governance in the country.

“We want the Colombian people to be the protagonists,” Petro’s staffers said in a statement. “This inauguration will be the first taste of a new form of governance in which all life forms are respected and everyone fits in.”

Petro, 62, a former senator and mayor of Bogota, was narrowly elected in June’s presidential election as one of a growing group of left-wing politicians and political outsiders who have won elections in Latin America since the coronavirus pandemic began. Above all, the global catastrophe exacerbated the social inequalities in the region.

Colombian voters have historically been more inclined to view left-wing candidates as pro-crime or allied with guerrillas who have waged a decades-long rebellion in the country.

New vice president Francia Marquez, an environmental activist and former housekeeper, also represents change for the country as the first Afro-Colombian woman to take office.

What did Petro promise?

Petro said his first goal is to introduce measures to combat hunger in Colombia, where nearly half of the country’s 50 million people struggle with poverty.

Incoming Treasury Secretary Jose Antonio Ocampo will propose a $5.6 billion tax reform to Congress Monday that would see high earners taxed more to fund social programs.

As president, Petro plans to increase investment in rural areas, including building infrastructure that would allow farmers to turn away from growing coca leaves, which fuel the country’s rampant drug trade.

Petro, who has assembled a coalition of left and centrist parties to support his agenda, has also pledged free university education, healthcare system changes and pension reform.

On the environmental front, he has vowed to ban fracking and halt oil production, even though the oil industry accounts for almost 50% of the country’s legal exports.

Petro has also promised to resume failed peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels and to apply a 2016 peace deal to former FARC guerrilla members who oppose it.

tj/dj (Reuters, AP)

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