Colombia Presidential Election: a look at ‘progressive’ candidate Gustavo Petro

World Today

Colombian presidential candidate Gustavo Petro for the Colombia Humana Party, takes part in a TV debate in Bogota on May 24, 2018. Colombia will hold presidential elections on May 27. (AFP PHOTO / Luis ACOSTA)

Gustavo Petro, Bogota’s former mayor, is a leading candidate in the 2018 presidential elections. Most view him as a left-winged candidate because of his proposals.

But in an interview with CGTN, Petro said he wants to be seen as the “progressive” candidate, calling for a “Colombia humana”, or humane Colombia, as his slogan states.

CGTN’s Michelle Begue reports.

 “The Humane Colombia is a country with social reforms that will permit harmonious living, and a profound democracy, that is the formula needed to end decades of violence and peace for this country,” Petro explained.

Petro said his primary proposal is to concentrate on combating climate change by diversifying the country’s energy from oil, (Colombia’s top export) to renewable and clean energy. He believes relying on the volatile price of oil is not sustainable in the long-term.

Colombian presidential candidate Gustavo Petro (3-R), from Colombia Humana party, speaks to supporters next to his wife Veronica Alcocer Garcia (2-R), during a campaign rally in Bogota, on May 17, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Raul Arboleda)

“The oil crisis showed that we clearly cannot reduce poverty with a system based on the price of primary resources. The clearest example of that failure is Venezuela,” he said.

While Petro has criticized the Venezuelan government, his detractors portray him as a sympathizer of guerillas and the Nicolas Maduro presidency. Petro is also a former member of the demobilized guerrilla group called M-19.

Colombian presidential candidate Gustavo Petro (C), from the Colombia Humana party, speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Medellin, Colombia, on May 16, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / JOAQUIN SARMIENTO)

Petro also said Colombia should move away from what he calls “ineffective” drug policies lead by the United States. Instead, he calls on economic development to “move the population away” from the illicit trade.

“An anti-drug policy for me is to take the population [from traffickers], it is also democratic agrarian reform for the cultivators of cocoa […]and finally taking away the consumers,” Petro said.

Supporters of Colombian presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, from Colombia Humana party, take part in a campaign rally in Bogota, on May 17, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Raul ARBOLEDA)

Supporter turn-out at rallies has been high. The campaign claims they are completely organic and unpaid for. But he question remains if this will lead to votes on election day. If Petro wins, he would make history in a conservative country, becoming the first left- leaning president in Colombia’s history.