Latin America has taken another leftward turn, as Gustavo Petro was elected president of Colombia, Sunday, making history as the country’s first leftist elected to be president. The shift left, analysts claim, could be yet another foreign policy headache for the Biden administration.
Petro is a former guerilla leader. His victory will change politics domestically, and the balance of power in Latin America as it adds to a wave of triumphs by the left in the region. Brazil could be the next triumph for the socialists if Lula da Silva wins in that country’s election in October. This would strengthen a leftist bloc whose pro-Russia and China sentiment and decidedly antagonistic views against the United States should be a concern for the Biden and future U.S. administrations.
Joseph Humire, executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society warns: “The victory of Gustavo Petro in Colombia consolidates the gains of the Latin American left over the last decade. But while the Biden administration may sympathize with the leftist political agenda of a new President Petro, the U.S. should pay close attention to any potential authoritarian actions or efforts by the new Colombian government to dismantle, hijack or polarize democratic institutions in the country under the guise of constitutional reform.”
The praise coming in from the continent’s socialist leaders was fast. Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro was quick to congratulate Petro and his running mate. “I congratulate Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez for their historic victory in the Presidential elections in Colombia. The will of the Colombian people, who came out to defend the path of democracy and peace, was heard. New times are in sight for this sister country.”