Petro defeats construction magnate Rodolfo Hernandez by more than 700,000 votes in the presidential runoff.
Gustavo Petro, a former member of the M-19 rebel movement who promised profound social and economic change, won Colombia’s presidency by defeating construction magnate Rodolfo Hernandez.
Petro won 50.5 percent of the vote against Hernandez’s 47.3 percent on Sunday, up from more than 700,000 votes. The two were technically equal in the pre-vote.
Peter, a former mayor of Bogota’s capital and current senator, has vowed to fight inequality with free university education, pension reforms and high taxes on unproductive land.
His proposals – including a ban on new oil projects – have been launched by some investors, although he has promised to abide by current agreements.
The 62-year-old Petro praised the “first popular victory” in a post on social media.
“Today is a holiday for the people. “Let’s celebrate the first popular victory,” he wrote on Twitter.
Hernandez conceded defeat shortly after.
“Colombians, today the majority of citizens have chosen the other candidate. “As I said during the campaign, I accept the results of this election,” Hernandez said in a video on social media.
When the results of the celebration of Peter’s campaign in Bogota appeared, the supporter of Alejandro Forero, 40, cried.
“Finally, thank God. I know he will be a good president and will help those of us who are least privileged. That will change for the better, “said Forero, who is unemployed.
This campaign was Petro’s third candidacy for president, and his victory added the Andean nation to the list of Latin American countries elected by progressives in recent years.
Petro Frances Marquez, a single mother and former housekeeper, will be the country’s first African-Colombian vice president.
“Today I am voting for my daughter – she turned 15 two weeks ago and asked for only one gift: to vote for Petro,” said 48-year-old security guard Pedro Vargas, in southwestern Bogota on Sunday morning.
“I hope this man lives up to my daughter’s hopes, she has a lot of faith in his promises,” added Vargas, who said he usually does not vote.
Petro also promised to fully implement the 2016 peace agreement with the FARC rebels and to seek talks with still active ELN rebels.
He raised doubts about the integrity of the census following irregularities in Congress’ calculations in March, and earlier Sunday called on voters to check their ballots for any outward signs that could invalidate them.
Hernandez, who was mayor of Bucaramanga, was a surprising contender in the runoff and promised to shrink the government and fund social programs to stop corruption.
He also promised to provide free drugs to addicts in an attempt to combat drug trafficking.
Despite his anti-corruption rhetoric, Hernandez himself is under investigation for corruption on charges of meddling in a garbage management tender to benefit a company his son is lobbying for. He denied wrongdoing.
Defense Minister Diego Molano told reporters Sunday afternoon that the murder of an electoral volunteer in Guapi, Cauca province was under investigation.
Sixty polling stations had to be relocated due to heavy rains in parts of the country, the registrar said.