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Colombia, a country that calls for an end to systematic political violence, is currently experiencing a historic moment, and for the first time, a leftist candidate could become the country's president.
Colombia's elections will be held on Sunday, May 29, and together with the one in Brazil on October 2, will be crucial in a new turn to the left in the region. In Colombia, leftist candidate Gustavo Petro leads the polls, while leftist former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is currently the frontrunner in Brazil, according to the latest polls.
Suppose the left-wing coalition Historical Pact candidate Gustavo Petro wins on Sunday. In that case, Colombia could leave behind a foreign policy that looks exclusively to the U.S. and become an active part of continental integration. This way, Latin American integration instruments will be strengthened, such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), founded in 2011, including 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries minus the U.S. and Canada.
Gustavo Petro and Francia Marquez, with the left-wing coalition Historical Pact, form an electoral formula that intends to change the course of Colombia and turn it, as the presidential candidate puts it, into a "power for life." The Historical Pact leader proposes creating the ministry of equity, achieving 50 percent of representation of women in public institutions, and promoting an energy transition towards sustainable national development.
The country is experiencing a robust electoral climate in the context of an election preceded by the social outburst of 2021 and protests in 2019 and 2020. In this scenario, it is clear that part of Colombia wants to end Uribism, associated with the current president Ivan Duque, the former president Álvaro Uribe, and its model of government, economy and violence.
24 congresistas de EEUU y congresistas del Pacto Histórico (el bloque q lleva a #PetroPresidenteEnPrimera) llaman a elecciones limpias y a terminar con la violencia política. La suerte de la democracia en Am Latina se juega, tbn, en cómo se desarrollen las elecciones en Colombia pic.twitter.com/KUChLBDWUH
24 U.S. congress members from the Historical Pact (the block that leads to Gustavo Petro) call for clean elections and an end to political violence. The fate of democracy in Latin America is played out, also, in how the elections are held in Colombia.
There are several factors influencing the new left-wing tide in Latin America, and its backdrop is the worsening poverty and inequality in the region as a result of the impact of the 2008 crisis, growing dissatisfaction with democracy and institutions, the breakdown of the traditional party system and anger at political corruption.
In such a left turn, it is worth mentioning the 2018 elections in Mexico in which AMLO took office, the victories of Laurentino Cortizo in Panama and Alberto Fernandez in Argentina the following year. In 2020, Luis Arce won the presidency in Bolivia. In 2021, four more changes occurred, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua: the victories of Pedro Castillo in Peru, Xiomara Castro in Honduras and Gabriel Boric in Chile.
Brazil will likely join this shift to the left, with Bolsonaro sinking in the polls and a strengthened Lula eager to compete for the presidency. The impact of the victory of leftist candidate Gustavo Petro holds implications in Latin America and internationally.