Gustavo Petro cracks Afro and women’s support in his run for the presidency of Colombia | International

Francia Marquez is presented as a candidate of the Democratic Pole in the Colombian elections, on December 16.
Francia Marquez is presented as a candidate of the Democratic Pole in the Colombian elections, on December 16.DPA via Europa Press (Europa Press)

The path to the presidential elections in Colombia will not clear until next March. Today more than a score of candidates fight each other to lead some of the registered coalitions and win the consultations that will be held less than three months before the appointment with the polls. Among all that sea of ​​names, Gustavo Petro is the only one that analysts dare to call a candidate. There is little doubt that the Historic Pact consultation to be held in March will be won by the left-wing politician who leads all the polls. He knows it too, that is why in the fight for the left-wing coalition there is not the flattery that reigns in all the others, where the candidates attack each other with care not to disturb anyone. This week, Petro did not hesitate to betray an agreement with which many point out as his possible presidential formula: the Afro leader Francia Márquez.

“Very well @petrogustavo. Congratulations on this decision. You decided to honor your agreements with political allies. We will continue to honor the word with the Country, ”Márquez rebuked on social networks, where the true Colombian electoral campaign is being settled. The root of the disagreement was the preparation of the lists to the Senate. Márquez’s agreement when he joined the Historical Pact included that for every five congressional candidates, there would be one Afro. The pact was not fulfilled. Last weekend Petro found himself faced with a dilemma: give an Afro candidate the 11th position on the lists, as he had agreed with Márquez, or attract the mayor of Medellín Daniel Quintero to the coalition, who had given him his support in his capacity of “independent” in exchange for a few positions for theirs. The left-wing leader preferred the second. This Thursday Petro tried to disassociate himself from the decision on Twitter: “Francia Márquez is absolutely right in his claim. The electoral college of the Pact blew up the ethnic line. It did so due to internal contradictions of the parties, but it made a general principle subordinate: the inclusion of the ethnic diversity of Colombia ”.

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During the last three days, the political news went through a possible break between Márquez and Petro, who in his first statements left the door open upon his departure. The option seems remote today, parties and independents need to be part of coalitions to have any option within the fractured Colombian political landscape. After the disagreement, Márquez received offers from other political specters, especially from the center, but it does not seem that politics will abandon the Historical Pact. Those who did decide to leave the left-wing coalition are the two Afro candidates who were running for the disputed 11th position, which opens a rift within the Afro vote, which in recent appointments has supported Petro. “I renounce the Historical Pact because it does not honor the word with the ethnic peoples,” said Vicenta Moreno Hurtado

The affront to Francia Márquez, a black woman, a chapter that has starred this week in the novel Colombian pre-campaign, full of unions, divorces and betrayals, has shown a fundamental aspect of national politics: the dominance of white male elites. Afro-Colombians make up 10% of the country’s population, but historically they have been underrepresented in Congress. Currently the law contemplates three seats for this minority, which are designated by a lower percentage of votes and are reserved for two constituencies: negritudes and raizales (citizens of the archipelago of San Andrés and Providencia). Their access to political participation through classical formulas is difficult. None of the Soy Because Somos candidates, led by Márquez, was placed in the top 20 on the congressional list, greatly reducing their chances of winning representation.

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Women are not a real minority but they are effective in Colombian politics. According to a report by the National Registry of Civil Status and UN Women, presented in 2019, 51.7% of voters in the 2018 congressional elections were women, but their presence in Congress is only 19.7%. Six months before the elections, no woman is expected to run for president, an absence that candidates try to make up with a woman as vice president. Hence, all analysts point to Francia Márquez as Petro’s formula.

Petro knows his strengths and limitations well. In the last elections, he lost in the second round against Iván Duque. Anti-petrism has enormous force. In a country with a conservative tendency where the left has never ruled, Petro’s presence in the Nariño Palace generates fear among a large part of the population, which tends to unite around the other candidate, whoever he is. To win, Petro needs to shore up his supports and cover up his weak spots. Feminism is one of them and it can be decisive.

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In the last electoral appointment in the region, last week in Chile, the leftist leader Gabriel Boric rose to the presidency with a majority support of women, young people and the poorest classes. Petro’s relationship with feminism is not going through its best moment. In the last elections, Angela María Robledo, a prominent feminist, ran as number two, who left the party amid complaints about feeling displaced within the party due to her status as a woman and a feminist. Last September, in an interview with this newspaper, the senator assured that there was “a divorce between the feminist agenda and the women’s agenda” and that “feminism has remained with the old traditional left in the intellectual sphere of the big city, without ties to the population ”. They were phrases that provoked numerous criticisms.

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With the support of Márquez, Petro files some of his rough edges, from feminism to the territories. “They rubbed their hands thinking that the Historical Pact would be divided, that suicide groups would lead it to evaporate. They were wrong; the Historical Pact stands together. Thanks @FranceMarquezM for his great sense of historical responsibility, “the presidential hopeful tweeted. Earlier, Márquez had assured on W Radio that the Historical Pact was still his option.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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