July 2022

By Julieta Gomez

Gustavo Petro was elected President of Colombia in the June 19th runoff. Petro, a left-wing leader and former guerrilla member, received more than 11 million votes, accounting for 50.44% of the total. His election caught many by surprise, as Colombia has traditionally leaned to the center-right. Petro has been in politics for around 30 years, serving a mayor of Bogota, a Senator, a Member of the Chamber of Representatives, among other roles. Throughout his career, he has been known for his leadership of opposition movements.

Today, many people are skeptical of him and his intentions when it comes to oil extraction, taxes, and the private sector, as well as his close friendship with President Maduro and the Venezuelan regime. However, the president-elect has made appointments in recent days that even some of his biggest critics have been receptive of. His choice for Foreign Affairs Minister, Alvaro Leyva, is a respected diplomat and politician who has already started preparing for his new assignment by traveling to Europe and speaking with his counterparts in Colombia’s most strategic allied nations. President-elect Petro also appointed Jose Antonio Ocampo, a seasoned politician and Columbia University Professor, as his Finance Minister, allowing many to breathe a sigh of relief as the country prepares a tax reform. Similarly, he appointed Alejandro Gaviria to be Minister of Education. Mr. Gaviria is a former Minister of Health and Dean of the Universidad de los Andes, one of Colombia’s most prestigious schools.

The president-elect is also abiding by his promise to have gender-parity in his cabinet. So far, he has appointed three women to important positions. Cecilia López will be returning as Minister of Agriculture; Susana Muhamad will be the Minister of the Environment; and Carolina Corcho will be serving as Minister of Health. Finally, Mr. Petro announced recently that his Ambassador to the United States will be Luis Gilberto Murillo. Mr. Murillo is a scholar and former Minister of the Environment, and was Vice Presidential candidate Sergio Fajardo.

All of Mr. Petro’s choices so far have been very experienced and knowledgeable people who are experts in their respective fields. Although the economy has suffered from the uncertainty and the fear of certain sectors of the population, Petro’s appointment choices are a positive sign for short- and long-term Colombian economic and democratic stability.