Gustavo Petro wins the presidential election in Colombia, will be sworn into office on August 7

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo by Fernando Vergara/ Associated Press.

On June 19, Gustavo Petro and Francia Marquez won the second-round vote to become the next president and vice-president of Colombia.

They won with 50.49 per cent of the vote over the right-wing populist millionaire businessman Rodolfo Hernández (who won 47.25 per cent of the vote).

Canada’s reaction

At 6:25 pm, Colombian President Ivan Duque tweeted his congratulations to Petro.

At 7:04 pm, Hernandez tweeted that he had conceded the election and congratulated Petro on his election win.

The leaders of numerous countries also congratulated Petro, including Honduras (at 6:37 pm), Chile (6:46 pm), Mexico (6:48 pm) and Peru (7:36 pm).

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs tweeted his congratulations to Petro at 6:48 pm.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted his congratulations at 9:32 pm. The US Embassy in Bogota followed at 10:09 pm.

As of 10:00 am ET the following day, neither Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly, nor the Embassy of Canada in Colombia/ Ambassador Marianick Tremblay has made note of the election result in their Twitter feeds.

We will post Canada’s comments here when they are made.


At 12:50 pm ET on June 20, Global Affairs Canada tweeted (retweeted by the Canadian Embassy):

And at 12:51 pm, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted:

Petro on open-pit mines and fracking

Reuters has previously reported: “Petro favors an economy that depends on agriculture rather than extractive industries, leading the Andean country’s oil and gas and mining sectors to rally behind his rival, the construction magnate Rodolfo Hernandez who posted a surprise second place finish behind Petro in the election’s first round.”

That article adds: “Petro has promised to stop new exploration for hydrocarbons and construction of new large-scale open-pit mines, and to put an end to investigative fracking pilots and offshore oil and gas projects, some of which already have contracts.”

It also notes: “Some in the industry believe Petro will not be able to slow their operations anytime soon, since the government of current President Ivan Duque has signed 69 exploration and production contracts during bidding rounds.”

Of those 69 oil and gas exploration blocks awarded between 2019 and 2021, 39 went to Canadian companies (and 26 of those 39 blocks went to Calgary-based Parex Resources Inc.). Natural Resources Canada has also reported that at $8 billion in 2018, Colombia was second largest location for Canadian Energy Assets Abroad (CEAA).

And notes: “Petro has said that under his administration, coal and oil reserves will be left in the ground and new licences prohibited, while his government will search for ways to finance the country’s decarbonization agenda. He has also promised to ban large-scale open-pit mining, but hasn’t specified whether this would apply to new projects only.”

In 2019, Natural Resources Canada reported that 28 Canadian mining companies held assets totalling $1.406 billion in Colombia.

The Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network and MiningWatch Canada have also drawn attention to the fact that NB (New Brunswick) Power has been buying approximately 500,000 tonnes of coal from the Cerrejón mine since the mid-1990s. Nova Scotia Power also imports coal from Cerrejón.

The Cerrejon mine is estimated to be operational until 2033, but the PBI-Colombia accompanied CCAJAR lawyers collective has called for it to be closed now.

The context of the National Strike

The Guardian has also previously explained: “The immediate backdrop of the vote is an unprecedented wave of protest that shook Colombia last year, and for many of those who participated in that wave of dissent, the election is a continuation of the same struggle.”

It adds: “The protests – which were met with widespread police brutality – began over an unpopular tax reform but quickly morphed into a howl of outrage against inequality, and politicized a generation of young voters.”

The New York Times now also comments: “Mr. Petro’s victory reflects widespread discontent in Colombia, a country of 50 million, with poverty and inequality on the rise and widespread dissatisfaction with a lack of opportunity, issues that sent hundreds of thousands of people to demonstrate in the streets last year.”

We continue to follow the situation for human rights defenders in Colombia. Petro and Marquez will be sworn into office on August 7.

PBI has been present in Colombia since 1994.

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