By Atilio A. Boron on June 17, 2018

Campaigners for Gustavo Petro. Photo: Luis Robayo

The title of this note fully reflects what is happening in Colombia. If there is one thing to take away from this election is that for the first time in its history the traditional bipartisanship of the right was broken, which had in the past been presented to the electorate masked under different formulas and characters but in the background represented the interests of the dominant establishment.  The emergence of a center-left candidacy like that of Gustavo Petro is an authentic and promising breakthrough in Colombian history, and it would not be going out on a limb to say that this marks the beginning of the end of an era. A slow and difficult birth, painful as few others, but whose result sooner rather than later will be the construction of a new political hegemony that displaces the forces that, for two centuries, exercised their domination in Colombia.  Never before has a force like this emerged with this substance, which positions itself very favorably with a view to the upcoming regional elections of October 2019 where Colombia Humana could recover the seat of mayor in Bogota and conquer Cali and prepare their cadres with their militancy to the presidential elections of 2022.The result of the second round in the presidential elections of Colombia delivered the victory of the candidate of the right, Iván Duque, who obtained 10,362,080 votes against the 8,028,033 of his rival, Gustavo Petro, candidate of the Colombia Humana coalition. Threatened like never before, the forces of the old Colombian social order regrouped and prevailed by a difference of about twelve percentage points. At the end of the recount, the uribista won 54 percent of the votes while the former mayor of Bogotá reaped 42 percent. The voter turnout was slightly higher than 51 percent, a promising statistic in the face of persistent absenteeism in the polls of a country where voting is not mandatory.

Meanwhile, Iván Duque must wage a tremendous uphill battle to fulfill what he promised his boss, Álvaro Uribe; that is to advance over the judicial power, to put an end to the transitional justice designed in the Peace Accords and above all to prevent the former president, the real power behind the throne, from going to jail due to the numerous charges against him for his responsibility in crimes against humanity – among them the “false positives” – and his proven links to the narcos.

In short, something new has begun to be born in Colombia. Still the process has not concluded but the signs are encouraging. Nobody dreamed just three months ago that a center left candidate, who is a former guerrilla fighter, could obtain more than eight million votes.

It happened and nothing should make us think that the tricky bipartisanship of the right can resurrect after this debacle; or that the euphoria aroused in millions of Colombians who with their militancy built the most important political innovation since the murder of Jorge Eliecer Gaitán in 1948 will just dissolve in the air and everything will go back to where it was before. No, we are sure that there will be no going back in Colombia.

Sometimes there are defeats that anticipate future victories. Like those suffered by Salvador Allende in Chile in the 1964 election; or Lula in Brazil in 1998. Why think that something similar could not happen in Colombia? Only those who walk stumble, and the people of Colombia have started marching. It stumbled, but it will get up and sooner rather than later it will give birth to a new country.

Source: International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity

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