Colombia: Gustavo Petro, Bogotá's New Mayor

This last weekend of October, regional elections took place in Colombia to elect governors, mayors, councils, assemblies and local action boards. To make sure election day ran as smoothly as possible, a “dry law” was implemented, prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages and the possession of weapons. The measure included the closing of international land and sea borders, and the deployment of 350,000 members of the armed forces [es].

Although the right to vote was exercised throughout the country, the Bogotá election generated the greatest expectation since its citizens went to the polls during one of the capital city's biggest institutional crises, due to the arrest of former mayor Samuel Moreno and his alleged participation in contract irregularities in the expansion of the Transmilenio, Bogotá’s bus rapid transit.

According to newspaper El Tiempo [es], whoever takes over the destiny of the bogotanos faces a series of challenges, like mobility, management of the capital city's economy, and security.

Gustavo Petro es el alcalde electo de Bogotá, dándole así continuidad a políticas de centro-izquierda. Foto de Jimmy_jazz_ataca en Flickr (CC-BY NC 2.0)

Gustavo Petro is Bogota's elected mayor, giving continuity to center-left policies. Photo by Jimmy_jazz_ataca on Flickr (CC-BY NC 2.0)

With polling stations closed, bogotanos gave Gustavo Petro [es] the victory. Petro beat strong opponents like Gina Parody and Enrique Peñalosa, whose campaigns had been supported by important public figures like former Bogotá Mayor and former presidential candidate Antanas Mockus, and former President Álvaro Uribe, respectively.

Once again citizens of Colombia's capital confirmed their preference for center-left policies– particularly those from the middle-lower class stratus. This will result in 12 uninterrupted years of administrations governing under this political idology.

As expected, the blogosphere generated expectations and even a sense of uncertainty about Bogotá's future facing these elections. Mike Ceaser writes in the blog Colombia Reports:

Bogota voters can use this month's mayoral election to choose between two futures: One in which the gap in quality of life between the rich minority and poor majority will continue widening; in which traffic jams, pollution and crime will worsen; in which individual interests will take priority over the collective and quality of life for the majority will decline. And a second future in which the interests of the majority receive priority and Bogotanos confront problems with a common civic spirit.

Once it was announced that Petro had won the election, Mike’s Bogota Blog expressed certain hopes for the elected mayor:

As a candidate, Petro made some unpopular (but necessary) proposals, such as addressing Bogotá's traffic jams by charging drivers a congestion tax. But he also made populist gestures, such as promising free water for the poor….Let's hope that as mayor his pragmatic side wins out over his ideological one. As a politician who speaks his mind and whose prospects for higher office are in any case limited, perhaps Petro will be willing to make courageous, unpopular decisions in the mold of London Mayor ‘Red’ Ken Livingstone.

Netizens also expressed their point of view on Twitter. Nicolás Arrieta (@nikoarrieta) thinks Petro's administration will be a continuation of what was left from Samuel Moreno's term:

De los mismos creadores de “Samuel Moreno Alcalde” llega Gustavo Petro Alcalde.

From the creators of “Mayor Samuel Moreno” comes Mayor Gustavo Petro

Holman Darío Suarez (@Holman0823) seems to be resigned to Petro's victory:

No todas se ganan. Confío en que Gina Parody hará un buen control político… y que Gustavo Petro cumplirá lo que prometió.

You can't win them all. I trust that Gina Parody will control the political situation… and that Gustavo Pietro will follow through with what he promised.

Anfioligo (@anfioligo) expects good results from the new administration:

hoy resultaron electos Gustavo Petro y Angélica Lozano, unos buenos candidatos; que alcancen grandes logros en el ejercicio de sus funciones.

Angelica Lozano and Gustavo Petro were elected today, good candidates; may they reach great achievements in the exercise of their responsibilities.

Camilo Hoyos (@JonathanHoyos), despite not sharing Petro's political views, shows his commitment to the city:

No soy de los afines de Gustavo Petro pero me comprometo a dar mi granito de arena por hacer de esta ciudad mucho mejor una verdadera ciudad

I don't agree with Gustavo Petro's political stance, but I am committed to giving my two cents to make this city a much better city, a real city

Julio Clavijo (@JuliusEC), meanwhile, laments Petro's victory and at the same time recalls the elected mayor's insurgent past:

Pobre Bogotá…..El ex guerrillero Gustavo Petro gana la alcaldía de Bogotá

Poor Bogotá…Former guerrilla Gustavo Petro wins Bogota's mayorship

Finally, Juan David Jimenes (@Juandajimenz) defines what he hopes Petro's administration will represent:

Gustavo petro un nuevo cambio para nuestra sociedad

Gustavo Petro, a new change for our society

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