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Colombians elect leftist Gustavo Petro in historic election, despite violence and threats

By Jim Byrne

Colombians rally for change

Tucson, AZ – Despite massive amounts of corporate media propaganda, police crackdowns and right-wing violence, Colombians elected leftist Gustavo Petro as president in a runoff election on June 19. The new vice president is Francia Marquez Mina, an Afro-Colombian woman. This is the first time Colombia elected a president who is not from either the mainstream liberal or conservative parties.

This election victory is a rejection of the reactionary agenda of Rodolfo Hernandez, who is now making allegations of electoral tampering and fraud. Not only did the people of Colombia defeat this right-wing agenda, they elected a president with goals to advance items from the demands of the social and labor movements. This election comes in the wake of two years of nationwide strikes that were brutally repressed by police and military, with hundreds dead, and thousands injured and arrested.

In his victory speech, President-elect Petro said, “Lets scream ‘Freedom,’ so that massacres no longer come to our territory, so the government does not kill the young people anymore, or an economic policy does not take food away from children, so that democracy can be built and a Republic is possible. Long live freedom!”

President-elect Petro also represents an opportunity to address the issues related to the historic Colombian Peace Accords signed in 2016. Despite the ratified agreement, the Colombian government, under the right-wing former President Ivan Duque, gave the military and paramilitaries a blank check to murder, assault and intimidate social leaders throughout the country. The death toll since January of 2022 is over 80 labor unionists, community organizers and activists murdered.

This huge electoral victory may also improve the chances of freeing Simon Trinidad, a Colombian revolutionary held as a political prisoner of the U.S. in the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. The Special Jurisdiction Court of Peace has requested the presence of Trinidad in their court to discuss issues related to the Colombian Peace Process. It is abundantly clear that Trinidad needs to be freed from the U.S. and allowed to play a vital role in moving his country towards a peace with justice.

Simon Trinidad, Colombian revolutionary and prisoner of the U.S. Empire

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