It was in the middle of the night, shortly after Midnight French time. Gustavo Petro, 62, is proclaimed the winner and goes up to the podium. He won with 700,000 votes ahead of his rival with Trumpist accents, Rodolfo Hernandez Former far-left guerrilla, former mayor of Bogota, Petro slowly weighs his words. “It’s the History we are writing at the moment, says Petro, it’s a new History, for Colombia, for Latin America, for the world”. And that’s true. Since this country of 50 million inhabitants, the 4th largest economy on the continent, has never known a left-wing president for 2 centuries, sometimes led by radical right-wing conservatives, sometimes by center-right liberals. This victory therefore resonated last night throughout Latin America, as the most emblematic symbol of the left turn of the entire continent. With rare exceptions, such as Uruguay or Ecuador, all the last polls have in fact seen the victory of the left-wing candidates. In Central America: in Mexico, and more recently in Honduras. In South America: in Argentina in 2019, in Bolivia in 2020, in Peru last year. And more recently, last December, in Chile, with the success of the young Gabriel Boric, 36 years old.
All have programs for social redistribution, the fight against poverty, taxation of the richest. All are very critical of Washington. All benefited from a pendulum effect: a movement of degagism against right-wing parties which, conversely, had largely imposed themselves in the mid-2010s. But not all are of the same obedience. There are at least 3 categories. The elders, the Marxists with totalitarian leanings: Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua. Populists, social democrats in economics, conservatives on social issues: Lopez Obrador in Mexico, Castillo in Peru. And then the new generation with more ecological accents: it’s Boric in Chile. And this may also be the case for Colombia, because of the personality of the vice-president: Francia Marquez, the first Afro-Colombian to access the Palace, black skin, environmentalist, 40 years old. She convinced Petro to commit to an immediate halt to new oil operations.
There remains a key country, the largest on the continent, it is Brazil, the giant of Latin America, 210 million inhabitants, is precisely in the middle of the electoral campaign: 1st round of the presidential election, on October 2 with a explosive duel between the current far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, and the ghost, the former left-wing president Lula. Even if his lead has been reduced for a few weeks, Lula remains the favorite. The main polls still give him a ten-point lead. If he wins in October, then the triumph will be almost complete for the left. Almost the entire continent will have changed in the space of 4 years.