A New Age: How Colombia’s New Election Recontextualizes Latin American Politics

Cristian Carrillo - Teen Aspect - July 8th, 2022
Newly elected Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, and vice-president, Francia Marquez, celebrating on election night (The Conversation, 2022)

With former-president Iván Duque Márquez ineligible for re-election due to Colombia’s presidential term limit of just one 4-year term, Colombia’s 2022 Presidential election between senator Gustavo Petro and real estate mogul Rodolfo Hernández ushers in a new age of Colombian politics, and more broadly, a potential new political era for all of Latin America as well. But this victory was as narrow as they come, being decided on a runoff with Petro winning 50.48% of the votes, while Rodolfo Hernández garnered 47.26%.


Petro as the new face of Colombia Humana, a left-leaning party in Colombia, and his ascendency to the presidency continues Latin America’s new Pink Tide, a phenomenon referencing the new uptick in liberal politicians being elected. In a region where conservatism has largely dominated, a paradigm shift is surely welcome, given the grievances that led to Petro’s victory. The former administration under president Ivan Duque ignited mass protests across the country for a proposed tax reform that would have seen taxes raised across the board. Colombians were also indignant towards the rampant economic inequality and police violence that swept across the nation. With a new administration in the Casa de Nariño, optimism seems to be the new reigning attitude towards the government.


While much commentary pertaining to the election comments on Petro’s background as a once guerrilla-turned-senator, it is equally as, if not more, important to note how his current policy proposals offer a refreshing new initiative in the country. Petro ran on a platform contingent on moving Colombia away from fossil fuels, regardless of the cost. His plan entails the halting of new permits for oil exploration, a bold yet necessary pledge when oil makes up 12% of Colombia’s national earnings, 34% of foreign investment, and 56% of all exports (Mower, 2021). In truth, this is a smart move; a reliance on fossil fuels is quickly becoming a less sustainable economic plan by all facets. On an environmental front, greener energy is undoubtedly better for local communities and ecosystems, but even on an economic front, greener energies are beginning to outpace fossil fuels just as the global average cost of switching from coal to renewable energy has plunged by 99% since 2010 (Gray, 2022).


However, while dissidents of the idea champion this present dependency as a warrant for its continuation, others see a strength in this new proposal. Instead of peddling a fossil fuel dependency while the world moves to renewable sources of energy, effectively rendering Colombia’s main export obsolete, Petro is acting preemptively to ensure the country’s prosperity now and in the long term, a frame of mind Colombians evidently seem to rally behind. Pragmatically, making this switch to greener energy sooner rather than later just might be what is necessary for widespread prosperity in the country, and with Petro at the helm spearheading a revitalization in both liberal politics and economic development following the toll the pandemic took on Colombia, this new precedent may very well set a new trend for Latin America. In conjunction with the second Pink Wave composed of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Argentinian President Alberto Fernández, and Chilean President Gabriel Boric, a new united coalition in the making is now on track to wholly recontextualize Latin American politics as we know it.


References


Gray, M. (2022, May 10). Fuel switching 2.0: Carbon price index for coal-to-clean electricity. TransitionZero. https://www.transitionzero.org/blog/fuel-switching-coal-to-clean

Mower, J. (2021, August 13). FEATURE: Conflict zones a challenge to Colombia's oil production goals. S&P Global. https://www.spglobal.com/commodityinsights/en/market-insights/latest-news/oil/081321-feature-conflict-zones-a-challenge-to-colombias-oil-production-goals#:~:text=And%20S%26P%20Global%20Platts%20Analytics,revenue%20for%20its%20operating%20budget.

The Conversation. (2022, June 5). President-elect Gustavo Petro and vice-president-elect Francia Marquez celebrate on election night. [Photo]. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/the-left-could-be-poised-to-take-power-in-colombia-for-the-first-time-183795


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