Latin America

The meaning of Gustavo Petro’s victory in Colombia

Leftist Senator Gustavo Petro ended two decades of right-wing dominance after a narrow runoff win over populist Rodolfo Hernández

In August, Gustavo Petro will become Colombia’s first left-wing president. Photo: Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda/EFE via Folhapress

When South America experienced the so-called “Pink Tide” in the 2000s, with left and center-left presidents winning elections in multiple countries, Colombia stood as the most notable outlier. The country was controlled by right-wing leader Álvaro Uribe and his allies, a grip on power that lasted for more than two decades. Before that, liberals and conservatives had been taking turns in power for more than a century.

After years of rising anti-establishment sentiment, Colombia made history on Sunday by electing leftist former Bogotá mayor Gustavo Petro as its new president. 

Mr. Petro beat populist newcomer Rodolfo Hernández by a tight...

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