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Featured Image Credit: REUTERS / Alamy. dpa picture alliance archive / Alamy.
The man tipped to become Colombia’s next President has pledged to end the country’s never-ending war on drugs.
Gustavo Petro, who was a former guerilla, gained more than 40 per cent of the votes in the first round of the Colombian election on Sunday (May 30) giving him a clear lead.
Petro want to shift Colombia’s failing drug policies and has denounced the decades of policies that have resulted in unnecessary deaths, according to The Telegraph.
Colombia’s cocaine production has reached a record high and is now more than four times higher than when Pablo Escobar was in charge in the 1990s.
Petro favours engaging with criminal groups and negotiating peace agreements, such as the one made with guerilla group FARC in 2016.
The agreement brought an end to a half-century of conflict between Colombian forces and the group.
His opponent, Rodolfo Hernández, has been compared to the likes of Donald Trump with his aggressive social media campaigning and anti-establishment rhetoric.
Hernández was a surprise opponent for Petro, with the 77-year-old ousting established conservative candidate Federico Guiterrez with 28 per cent of the vote.
As Petro hadn’t received 50 per cent of the vote share, the pair will now face off in the June 19 runoff.
While Petro received significantly more votes than Hernández, there is still a chance the right-wing candidate could take out the vote, with Guiterrez voters predicted to vote for the businessman.
Hernández has also promised to move away from Colombia’s anti-narcotics strategy, which signals a massive change in the country’s policy regardless of who wins the election.
While both candidates’ drug policies may be similar, their policies elsewhere significantly differ.
Hernández has advocated for a hands-off economic approach, while Petro is pledging to increase taxes for the rich and use those funds for social projects.
While the election will be at the forefront of Petro’s mind, he is facing complaints from Spain’s National Court, which alleged he kidnapped journalist Fernando Gonzalez Pacheco in 1981.
The journalist was briefly kidnapped by M-19, the guerilla organisation movement that Petro was a part of, however, he was released days later.
The complaint accuses Petro of being a senior leader of the group that carried out ‘massacres’, ‘bombing attacks’, and ‘torture, cruelty, and disappearances’.