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Colombia: Gustavo Petro builds bridges with Europe on his way to the presidency of Colombia

Colombia: Gustavo Petro builds bridges with Europe on his way to the presidency of Colombia

The senator Gustavo Petro, who leads all voting intention polls for the May elections in Colombia, he does not stop adding miles to his presidential dream. This last week he met in Madrid with the former president of the Spanish government, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, while 24 hours before it had done the same with the Pope Francisco in the Vatican. The Colombian presidential candidate had already faced a tight tour of Spain, which included a meeting with the president Pedro Sanchez. He is also one of the few Colombian politicians who was invited to the act of possession of Gabriel Boric in Chile and strengthens its link with the prestigious French economist Thomas Pickett, perhaps outlining the course of his hypothetical government.

Petro’s international tour is marking the electoral agenda of the South American country and even raised unusual criticism from President Iván Duque, who even asked the left-wing senator to take advantage of his visit to the Vatican to “confess his sins.” In dialogue with Page 12 Yann Bassett, professor of Political Science at the Universidad del Rosario, maintained that “As much as he is leading the polls at this point in the campaign, Petro is also a candidate who has a high level of negative image, something that he knows very well and that he tries to reverse in a certain way on this tour”. Basset maintains that Petro “has tried to approach sectors from which it was relatively far away to demonstrate credibility before businessmen in particular, but also before traditional and religious political sectors”, seeking in some way to “soften” their image.

Meetings with Zapatero and Francisco

Petro and Zapatero talked a few days ago about issues related to social and gender equality, in addition to the search for an end to the armed conflict, according to what the senator’s team reported in a statement. The senator’s agenda continued this weekend with a group of businessmen from the railway sector and renewable energies interested in investing in Colombia. On Sunday he returned to his homeland to participate in an event in the department of Boyacá, although his tour of Europe would add new destinations in the coming hours.

Petro’s visit to Spain was his second in less than a month. On January 10 he had been received by the main Spanish leftist forces. There proposed a pact between the employers, the State and the workers to guarantee job stability, in a nod to the most concentrated sectors of the Colombian economy that cannot fully digest it. “The visit to the pope as part of this international tour extends this strategy of try to show public opinion in the country that he is not a danger to Catholics“, adds Basset. Petro himself made statements along the same lines to the newspaper The world from Spain: “I am not going to burn churches or expropriate banks. They are ‘fake news'”.

The good relationship with Piketty

A week ago, Petro published a photo on his social networks with the French economist Thomas Pickett, who was visiting Colombia. The former mayor of Bogotá said that Piketty will advise his eventual government “in the search for production and equity” and to install “a school of economic thought in Latin America.”

Petro, who spoke out in favor of charging higher incomes more taxes, has long argued that Piketty’s ideas about the need to combat inequality have influenced him. It is an accurate message for the Colombian population that is in line with its opposition to the failed and regressive tax reform of Duque, which led to harsh protests last year, leaving a balance of 79 dead, according to the NGO Indepaz.

Weave alliances moderating the discourse

Petro, who in his youth was a member of the M-19 guerrilla organization, is a pre-candidate for the presidency by the coalition of progressive parties and movements called the Historical Pact.. His international tour aims to try to show himself to the world as a more “credible” or “responsible” leader, although without giving up the leftist flags, according to Basset.

“Right now it’s not so much the problem of his past as a guerrilla, but avoid this image of supporter of the Venezuelan model, something with which the right has tried to hit him since the last election campaign quite successfully. he knows and is trying to do some kind of preventative damage control“warns the political scientist from the Universidad del Rosario.

In a recent interview with the magazine Week, Petro was very harsh with the Venezuelan government by assuring that “heThe image of Maduro is not that of a leftist leader, he is a very conservative member of the most regressive factions in world politics who are trying to make the case that the world stays in a fossil economy.

Petro was invited to Boric’s inauguration on March 11 in Chile, a mirror in which the candidate of the Historical Pact prefers to reflect himself, far from experiences such as those of Venezuela or Nicaragua. “With Chile there would be a strategic alliance to revitalize and return very powerful what was a good idea, what was left to die, what is a common market throughout the Andean territory”, maintained the Colombian senator in that sense.

In a conservative country in which the left has never reached the government housePetro is the candidate best positioned to capitalize on social unrest stemming from last year’s wave of protests. The first round of the presidential elections, for which there are still twenty candidates and pre-candidates from all political factions, will take place on May 29.

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