The left in Colombia, Petro and Márquez and the alternation in power

Publisher’s note: Jorge Dávila Miguel has a degree in Journalism since 1973 and has maintained a continuous career in his profession to date. He has postgraduate degrees in Social Information Sciences and Social Media, as well as postgraduate studies in International Relations, Political Economy and Latin American History. Dávila Miguel is a columnist for El Nuevo Herald on the McClatchy network, and a political analyst and columnist for CNN en Español. The comments expressed in this column belong exclusively to the author. See more at

(CNN) — Gustavo Petro will be president of Colombia on August 7 this year. And it is news because Petro is on the left, and there has never been a left-wing president in the House of Nariño. From the age of 18 he joined the guerrillas of the April 19 Movement and remained there until 1990, when the peace talks allowed him to move on to the civil political struggle.

In the last 42 years Petro has made good use of time, because he began a long career along which one can very well learn to govern. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1991, he was a senator of the Republic in 2006, mayor of Bogotá in 2012 and thanks to second place in the 2018 presidential vote he became a senator again.

Gustavo Petro is not a communist, which is difficult to understand for those who dream of democracy only when it is from the right. And he is not a communist because his ideological blood does not come from Karl Marx or from historical materialism, but from knowing the harsh social and economic contradictions that a significant part of the Colombian people suffers.

This change of political sign in Colombia represents the essence of true democracy, because with its peaceful alternation in power it can bring, with good will and political prudence, greater well-being to the country. It’s simple. But how difficult it is to accept this alternation in power, both for the right and for the left. They feel possessors of the absolute national truth, constantly feeding on the slogans and visions of their respective party. There is no other truth than one’s own, in the style of the communist, fascist or Nazi parties. There is no dialogue, negotiation or understanding along and across the ideological lines that grimly descend vertically from high political office to the most recent convert. It is an extremist panorama that is seen more these days, nothing more and nothing less than in the United States.

But the real jewel of this surprising and surprising change in Colombia is Francia Márquez, the nation’s elected vice president: a black woman, poor and who has fought for 40 years. A domestic worker at 13, a single mother at 16, “I had no training in sexual and reproductive life,” she declared, recalling her total ignorance on the subject: “I had to leave school, I had to work a lot,” she confessed to the press in 2018, after having won the Goldman Prize, known as the Nobel Prize for environmentalism. After having been a miner and domestic worker in Cali, she had the time and talent to obtain two academic degrees: Agricultural Technique, and in 2020 her law degree from the Santiago de Cali University.

Francia Márquez has politically awakened the black population and also the indigenous population of her country and has become their electoral voice: “We are more than 10 million Afro-Colombians”, that great silent minority that supports the vice president-elect today.

At the age of 13, he participated in the fight for the diversion of the Ovejas River.

In 2005, it demanded that two Colombian companies repair the environmental impacts created by the Salvajina megaproject. In 2009, he opposed indiscriminate mining in the municipality of Suárez, which would cause the eviction of Afro-descendants from the territory, as it was declared a military objective by various armed groups. Márquez then initiates a protection action and obtains his permanence in the territory.

She is appointed legal representative of Afro-descendant communities in the area in 2013. And the following year she participates in the interethnic and intercultural roundtable of Norte del Cauca, demanding that the Government stop illegal mining. This causes Francia Márquez to be declared, along with her children, a military objective and forcibly displaced from the territory that she had defended so much. But in November of that same year, Francia Márquez is one of the organizers of the March of the Turbans, which occupies, after a 600-kilometer march to Bogotá, the offices of the Colombian Ministry of the Interior until December 11, when they achieve the government recognition of 27 community councils in Cauca. She participated in the peace talks in Havana between the Colombian government and the FARC. On May 4, 2019, she is the victim of an attack with firearms, which left two injured.

Francia Márquez speaks in a simple language, impossible not to understand, both by the educated and by the layman, about her purposes of vindication, education and environmentalism in Colombia. She must continue to be a factor of criteria and fresh renewal in the performance of her functions in the Ministry of Equality. Simple name but that involves harsh decisions, because what more difficult thing will exist in a country than to establish equality?

On August 7, 2022, the real task of the new Government begins. Petro and Márquez have an explicit, implicit, projected and also impossible to foresee job in the presidency of the great Colombian country. Half the nation voted against them and now the day to day will begin, the easy decisions and the difficult ones, those of principle and those of opportunity, the convenient ones and the inconvenient ones. With a stage behind Petro and Márquez, of uninterrupted domain of 60 Colombian families with right-wing philosophies. Democracy has given the country to the left. Let’s wait to see how the country is conducted under Petro and Márquez. For now, the commander in chief of the Colombian army, General Eduardo Zapateiro, has resigned from his important position in a veiled protest against the election of the Colombian left. Long live democracy and alternation in power.

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