Gustavo Petro

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Gustavo Petro
Official portrait, 2022
34th President of Colombia
Assumed office
7 August 2022
Vice PresidentFrancia Márquez
Preceded byIván Duque
Member of the Senate
In office
20 July 2018 – 20 July 2022
In office
20 July 2006 – 20 July 2010
797th Mayor of Bogotá
In office
1 January 2012 – 31 December 2015
Out of office: 19 March 2014 – 23 April 2014
Preceded byClara López Obregón
Succeeded byEnrique Peñalosa
Member of the
House of Representatives
In office
20 July 1998 – 20 July 2006
ConstituencyCapital District
In office
1 December 1991 – 20 July 1994
Personal details
Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego

(1960-04-19) 19 April 1960 (age 63)
Ciénaga de Oro, Córdoba, Colombia
Political partyHumane Colombia (since 2011)
Other political
Historic Pact for Colombia
See more
Spouse(s)Katia Burgos (divorced)
Mary Luz Herrán
(m. 1992; div. 2003)

Alma materExternal University of Colombia
Graduate School of Public Administration
Pontifical Xavierian University
University of Salamanca

Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego (Spanish pronunciation: [ɡusˈtaβo fɾanˈsisko ˈpetɾo uˈreɣo]; born 19 April 1960) is a Colombian politician who is the President of Colombia since 2022. Petro was a Senator from 2018 until 2022. He was senator before from 2006 until 2010. He was mayor of Bogotá from 2012 until 2015. From 1991 until 1994 and again from 1998 until 2006, Petro was a member of the Colombia House of Representatives.

At aged 17, Petro became a member of the guerrilla group 19th of April Movement and was part of the group when he was elected to the House of Representatives.[1]

He ran for the presidency of Colombia in the 2010 election, finishing fourth in the race. Petro ran again for president and came in second in the first round of the 2018 election with over 25% of the votes and lost in the run-off election on June 17 to Iván Duque Márquez.

Petro ran again for president in the 2022 election.[2] His campaign focused on climate change and reducing Greenhouse gas emissions that cause it by ending fossil fuel exploration in Colombia.[3] In May 2022, he came in first place in the first round of voting and advanced to the June run-off against right-wing populist Rodolfo Hernández Suárez.[4] In June 2022, he won the election by a 50% to 47% margin and became the country's first left-wing president in Colombia's history.[5]

Early life[change | change source]

Petro was born in Ciénaga de Oro, Córdoba. His parents were farmers.[6] He was raised Roman Catholic,[7] although he is not very religious.[8]

Petro studied at the Colegio de Hermanos de La Salle. He founded the student newspaper Carta al Pueblo ("Letter to the People"). At the age of 17 he became a member of the 19th of April Movement. During his time in 19 April Petro became a leader, and was elected ombudsman of Zipaquirá in 1981 and councilman from 1984 to 1986.[9] In 1985, Petro was arrested by the army for the crime of illegal possession of arms. He was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison.[10]

Petro graduated with a degree in economics from the Universidad Externado de Colombia. He earned a master's degree in economics from the Universidad Javeriana.[11][12] He also studied at the University of Salamanca in Spain.[13][14][15]

Congressional career[change | change source]

In 2002, Petro was elected to the Chamber of Representatives representing Bogotá. During this period he was named "Best Congressman".[16] In 2006, Petro was elected to the Senate.[17] When he was a senator, Petro was against the government of Álvaro Uribe.[18]

During his time in the senate, Petro and his family would get many death threats.[19] In May 2007, some members of the Colombian Army were caught spying on Petro and his family.[20]

After not winning the 2018 presidential election, Petro returned to the Senate in July 2018.[21] He left office in July 2022, a few weeks before his presidential inauguration.[22][23]

2010 presidential campaign[change | change source]

In 2008, Petro announced his candidacy for President of Colombia in the 2010 election.[24] He wanted to fix the government system in Colombia and eventually won the Alternative Democratic Pole nomination in September 2009.[25]

In the presidential election held on 30 May 2010, Petro did better than polls had thought he would. He won a total of 1,331,267 votes, 9.1% of the total, finishing as the fourth candidate.[26]

Mayor of Bogotá[change | change source]

When he was mayor, he made it illegal to carry firearms, which lowered the murder rate in the city.[27][28] During his time, pro-feminist and LGBT centers were created as well as abortion care places.[29]

In 2014, there was a recall vote to remove Petro from office, which many saw as politically motivated and he was removed from mayor and banned from politics for a short time during this year.[30] Eventually he returned as mayor to finish his term after many legal challenges.[31]

2018 presidential campaign[change | change source]

In 2018, Gustavo Petro was again a presidential candidate, this time getting the second best result in voting counting in the first round on 27 May, and advanced to the second round.[32] During this time, right-wing political enemies of Petro accused him of corruption.[33] During this campaign, he showed support for universal health care, public banking, against fracking and mining in favor of clean energy, and land reform.[34] He lost the election to Ivan Duque while Petro returned to the Senate.[21]

During this time, Petro received death threats from the paramilitary group Águilas Negras.[35]

2022 presidential campaign[change | change source]

Petro with his wife and former Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in 2022

In 2021, Petro announced his candidacy for the 2022 elections.[36] In September 2021, Petro announced that he would retire from politics if he were to lose this election.[37] During this campaign, he focused on climate change reform, clean energy and fixing the country's economic inequalities.[3] He also promised to raise taxes on the richest 4,000 Colombians and would support having President Iván Duque be on trial for police brutality committed during the 2021 Colombian protests.[38] When he won the Historic Pact primary, Petro picked Afro-Colombian human rights and environmental activist Francia Márquez, to be his running mate.[39]

Petro and his running mate Francia Márquez got many death threats from paramilitary groups while on the campaign trail. He had cancelled rallies in Colombiaʼs coffee region in early May 2022 after his security team found a plot by the La Cordillera gang.[40] Many international politics signed a letter in support of Petro and criticized the rise of political violence in Colombia. Some of the people who signed were former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky and member of the French National Assembly Jean-Luc Mélenchon.[41] During the campaign, Petro was supported by former Uruguayan president José Mujica and former Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.[42][43]

Petro won the most votes in the first round held on 29 May but did not win more than 50% of the vote to avoid a second round. He faced the former mayor of Bucaramanga and businessman, Rodolfo Hernández Suárez in the run-off on 19 June.[44][45] In the second round, Petro and Márquez won the election by winning 50.44% of the popular vote against Hernández.[5]

Presidency[change | change source]

Petro was sworn in on 7 August 2022.[46]

Large protests began in Colombia on 26 September 2022 against reforms[47] and the government of President Petro. Throughout 2023, Petro's disapproval rating rose, rising to 53% disapproving of his performance in March 2023.[48]

He has been criticized for his tackling of crime, his stalled reforms in the legislative branch, his disagreements with the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia, and scandal involving Chief of Staff Laura Sarabia.[49] By June 2023, 33% of Colombians approved of Petro's performance, and 61% disapproved.[50]

Personal life[change | change source]

Petro was married three times. His first marriage to Katia Burgos ended in divorce and with one son. He was married to Mary Luz Herrán from 1992 until 2003, which also ended in divorce. They had two children. In 2003, he married Verónica Alcocer and they had two children together and he also adopted Alcocer's son from another marriage.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Gustavo Petro, Colombia's unorthodox left-wing presidential candidate". Archived from the original on 2022-04-21. Retrieved 2022-03-27.
  2. "Gustavo Petro: Ex-rebel wins his coalition's primary". BBC News. 2022-03-14. Retrieved 2022-03-27.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Aronoff, Kate (2022-03-22). "Colombia's Fossil Fuel Industry Is Freaking Out About Presidential Front-Runner Gustavo Petro". The New Republic. ISSN 0028-6583. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
  4. "Elecciones presidenciales en Colombia 2022, en vivo: Gustavo Petro y Rodolfo Hernández competirán por la presidencia". El Pais. 29 May 2022.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bocanegra, Nelson; Griffin, Oliver; Vargas, Carlos (19 June 2022). "Colombia elects former guerrilla Petro as first leftist president". Reuters. Archived from the original on 20 June 2022. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  6. La FM (5 December 2018). "Gustavo Petro dice que es italiano y no necesita visa a Estados Unidos" (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  7. "Petro NO es ateo y Petro NO dijo que no aceptará más crucifijos en los colegios públicos". (in European Spanish). 22 April 2022. Retrieved 2022-06-04.
  8. "El candidato presidencial Gustavo Petro ante más de 30 mil personas dice que no cree en Dios". La Lengua Caribe (in European Spanish). 2018-04-15.
  9. "¿Quién es Gustavo Petro?". Semana (in Spanish). Bogotá. 9 December 2013. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022. {{cite news}}: |archive-date= / |archive-url= timestamp mismatch; 14 May 2021 suggested (help)
  10. Vacía, La Silla. "¿Volverá a jugar el pasado de Petro en esta campaña?". Súper Amigos – La Silla Vacía (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-03-27.
  11. Mayor of the Month; City Mayors; Adriana Maciel, Alidad Vassigh; June 2012
  12. "Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego: Executive Profile & Biography – Bloomberg". Retrieved 2017-12-21.
  13. "Gustavo Petro, el 'progresista'". 29 September 2011.
  14. "Perfil de Gustavo Petro - Universidad del Rosario". Archived from the original on 2015-12-11. Retrieved 2015-07-28.
  15. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-12-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. Caracol Radio, El Congreso eligió a los mejores y peores de esta legislatura Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine (in Spanish)
  17. es.Wikinews, Resultados elecciones legislativas de 2006, march 2006
  18. "Hay Gata encerrada" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 13 September 2009. Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  19. "IACHR Annual Report 2008 – Chapter IV". Retrieved 2017-12-21.
  20. Investigan a dos militares por espionaje a familia de Petro. El Espectador. 7 May 2007
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Meet Gustavo Petro, Colombian Former Guerrilla & Leftist Who Mounted Historic Campaign for Presidency". Democracy Now. 10 August 2018.
  22. "Gustavo Petro". (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 21 June 2022. Retrieved 21 July 2022.
  23. "Colombia's congress begins new session with ambitious reform agenda". Reuters. Bogotá. 21 July 2022. Archived from the original on 21 July 2022. Retrieved 21 July 2022.
  24. "Gustavo Petro lanzó su candidatura en el Polo Democrático". Caracol Radio. 27 February 2009. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  25. "Gustavo Petro triunfó con tesis opuestas a las mias: Carlos Gaviria". W Radio (in Spanish). 2 October 2009. Archived from the original on 10 June 2021. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  26. "Perfil de Gustavo Petro". Caravel Radio (in Spanish). 9 December 2013. Archived from the original on 18 April 2022. Retrieved 3 June 2022. {{cite news}}: |archive-date= / |archive-url= timestamp mismatch; 18 April 2021 suggested (help)
  27. "Los aciertos del alcalde Gustavo Petro". Caracol Radio. 16 January 2013. Archived from the original on 1 April 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  28. El Tiempo. "Bogotá, con la tasa de asesinatos más baja en 30 años". Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  29. "Nace centro público para atender abortos". El Espectador. 6 December 2012. Archived from the original on 10 January 2019. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  30. "María Mercedes Maldonado, alcaldesa (e) de Bogotá". Semana (in Spanish). 20 April 2014. Archived from the original on 22 April 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2022.
  31. "CONSEJO DE ESTADO SALA PLENA DE LO CONTENCIOSO ADMINISTRATIVO MAGISTRADO PONENTE: CÉSAR PALOMINO CORTÉS" (PDF). (in Spanish). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 20 June 2022.
  32. "Elecciones Presidencia de la República". Archived from the original on 2018-05-28. Retrieved 2018-05-27.
  33. "Demandan proceso de elección de Iván Duque en el Consejo de Estado". W Radio (in Spanish). 12 July 2018.
  34. bogotapost (2018-05-22). "Presidential candidates: Gustavo Petro". The Bogotá Post. Retrieved 2021-02-18.
  35. "Águilas Negras amenazan de muerte a Petro, Bolivar y a quien los apoye en Soacha". Las 2 Orillas (in Spanish). 8 September 2020.
  36. Sonneland, Holly K.; Orbach, Jon; Wilkinson, Hope. "Explainer: Who's Who in Colombia's 2022 Presidential Race". AS/COA. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  37. Martínez Ahrens, Jan; Santaeulalia, Inés (22 September 2021). "Gustavo Petro: 'Colombia doesn't need socialism, it needs democracy and peace'". El País. Bogotá. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  38. "Meet the Candidates: Colombia". Americas Quarterly. 4 November 2021. Archived from the original on 16 June 2022. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  39. Oscar Medina (24 March 2022). "Petro Names Afro-Colombian Environmentalist as Running Mate". Yahoo Finance. Archived from the original on 14 April 2022. Retrieved 26 March 2022.
  40. Geraldine García (5 May 2022). "Colombia's Petro resumes election campaign after revealing attack plan". La Prensa Latina. Cúcuta. Archived from the original on 6 May 2022. Retrieved 9 May 2022.
  42. "Expresidente uruguayo Pepe Mujica respaldó la campaña presidencial de Gustavo Petro: "Ahí está la esperanza"". Infobae (in Spanish). 11 May 2022. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  43. Lozano, Daniel (12 May 2022). "Zapatero será mediador de la paz en Colombia si gana Petro". El Mundo (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  44. "In surprise Colombia election result, leftist and businessman go to second round". Reuters. 2022-05-29. Retrieved 2022-05-31.
  45. Juan Diego Quesada (30 May 2022). "Gustavo Petro's final battle to become president of Colombia". El País. Bogotá. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  46. Velasco, Hector (7 August 2022). "Gustavo Petro sworn in as Colombia's first leftist president". AFP (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 7 August 2022. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  47. "¿Por qué hay protestas contra Petro este 26 de septiembre en Colombia? Ubicación de las marchas y más". CNN. 26 September 2022.
  48. Driver, Tom (2023-05-08). "Gustavo Petro's approval rating drops to lowest point yet at 30%". Latin America Reports. Retrieved 2023-07-06.
  49. Guzmán, Sergio (June 5, 2023). "Gustavo Petro's Biggest Crisis Yet". Americas Quarterly. Retrieved 2023-07-06.
  50. Santaeulalia, Inés (2023-06-29). "Colombia tires of 'government of change' in just one year: 61% disapprove of Petro". EL PAÍS English. Retrieved 2023-07-06.

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