Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

The Realpolitik of Gustavo Petro

By Will Freeman

28 May 2022 · 7 min read

On paper, Gustavo Petro, the front-runner in Colombia’s presidential race, wouldn’t seem likely to have gotten this far. He’s a leftist in a conservative country; an ex-rebel in a society still healing from the wounds of armed conflict; and a northerner from a middle-class family in a political system long dominated by Bogotá elites. Yet he’s within a stone’s throw of winning Colombia’s May 29 presidential election outright with a simple majority, eliminating the need for a June runoff.

Petro’s secret? Well, there are two.

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