Speed Reads

Colombia votes

Colombia elects ex-guerrilla Gustavo Petro as 1st leftist president

Former guerrilla Gustavo Petro defeated wealthy businessman Rodolfo Hernández, a political outsider, on Sunday to become Colombia's first leftist president in what is historically one of South America's most conservative countries. Petro received more than 50 percent of the votes, according to preliminary results. Hernández conceded.

The victory by Petro, a 62-year-old senator and former Bogota mayor, reflects a desire for change in Latin America's third-largest nation, where poverty has intensified during the coronavirus pandemic, analysts say. Petro, who spent time in prison in the 1980s for his work in M-19 urban guerrilla group, has called for universal health care and free higher education. His running mate, Francia Marquez, will be the first Black Colombian to serve as one of the country's top officials and the second woman to hold the post of vice president.