History was made in Colombia on Sunday when Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla, was sworn in as Colombia’s first leftist president. Francia Márquez Mina also made history becoming Colombia’s first Black vice president. Petro is a former M-19 guerrilla who went on to serve as a senator and mayor of the nation’s capital, Bogotá. Márquez Mina is a longtime Afro-Colombian environmental activist, land and water defender. In 2018, she won the Goldman Environmental Prize. During his inaugural address, Petro vowed to fight inequality and climate change and to push for peace. He also condemned the U.S.-led war on drugs.
President Gustavo Petro: “It is time for a new international convention that accepts that the war on drugs has completely failed, that it has killed a million Latin Americans, many of them Colombians, during the last 40 years, and that it leaves 70,000 North Americans dead by overdose each year from drugs that are not produced in Latin America. The war on drugs strengthened mafias and weakened states.”
Supporters of Gustavo Petro and Márquez Mina celebrated what they saw as a new beginning for Colombia, which has been ruled by the elite and right-wing forces for generations. This is Manuel Ponton speaking in Bogotá.
Manuel Ponton: “It is the beginning of democracy in Colombia because it is the first time there will be a government of popular origin. It is the first time that people feel happy about the election of a president, and for the first time, we feel that there is a real transition toward guaranteeing citizens’ rights.”
We will have more on Colombia later in the broadcast.