It painted bad. In the last days of the presidential campaign, phrases of the caliber of “anyone but Petro” and “Petro against a mamarracho? In honor of the truth, it was also said with some hope, right and left, “you don’t have to be a Petrista to vote for Gustavo Petro.” And yet, from post-truth to post-truth, from scandal to scandal, the sticky feeling -typical of Colombian adult life- settled in the stomach that the result of the elections was going to be unbelievable and devastating, and the people who always loses was going to think again “stay with your country”. But then came, on Sunday, the necessary news that had never been given in the history of Colombia: Petro 50.44%, Hernández 47.31%.
And, while such a miracle was digested – that the democratic left that left so many martyrs in the Creole Via Crucis arrived at the House of Nariño, with the highest vote in history – it was neither absurd nor esoteric to feel that this was the dreamed claim of so many disregarded and dispossessed and murdered from behind: on the crowded platform of victory, while Petro hoarsely delivered his first speech as president, one could see the faces of the country of women, the Afro-descendant country, the indigenous country, the poor country, the country of the victims, the country of the mothers who came to the world to lose their children, the country of the green wave, of Mockus, who so many times had to retreat to hope, and it was evident that grace of that candidacy had been the violated people that legitimized it and gave it life and beauty.
Everything had been conspiring for Colombia to see itself in its broken mirror. And on Sunday, before the image of that platform, after a four-year campaign that saw a series of entrapments pass in the peace agreement with the FARC, and a cacerolazo against a government that only served its small nation, and a social outbreak that called us to solidarity, the country began to discover itself before the thorny task of finally being a country. It was seen that it is what is coming, yes, it is what it touches, and there is nowhere to hide. This time there isn’t even a World Cup – you can’t watch football to forget it – because the World Cup is in December so that we have to recognize once and for all that these elections unindulgently showed how good and how bad we are.
Yes, today we all start the presidency of Petro, but, after this campaign plagued with vileness, we are too old to deny the phobia of the left that only occurs in communities trained to believe in the devil; the classism that is awakened in all levels of this pyramidal society, segregating to the utmost, when anyone who speaks of social justice begins to take the surveys; the trachetismo, that is, the parody, on the fringes of the law, of some particularly indolent elites, which has been a perverse response to inequalities; the fear of transformation that pushes to entrust politics –no more and no less than the administration of coexistence– to snake charmers.
I mean: it is truly incredible that Petro is not only the progressive candidate who got here alive, to power, but that he has won in the name of a culture of peace that has been stabbed in the back so many times. But the 47.31% who did not vote for him, 10,580,399 Colombians who had 10,580,399 reasons, are already out there with their souls on edge and will remain on tenterhooks until it is clear that the government of their worst nightmares is not going to turn his back on him, he is far from ruining it. And it is to be expected that the commanders and the bishops and the propagandists of the right, who work twenty-four hours from Monday to Sunday, take a lifetime to understand that this was what was convenient for this plural country that has had so much hell.
Yes, what happened on Sunday was extraordinary: after a century and a half of vicious violence, the two parties that forged this kind of nation with blood and fire, the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, who could not prevent Colombia from happening between wars and degraded by denying them, they agreed on a “National Front” to succeed each other in power from 1958 to 1970 in the name of their truce, and then the alternative candidates who embodied the indignation at the successive betrayals of the establishment -Rojas in 1970, Galán in 1982, Navarro in 1990, Gaviria in 2006, Mockus in 2010 and Petro in 2018 – while the old parties and their cowardly dissidences were reduced to rather sordid electoral enterprises. On Sunday the alternative candidate narrowly won the fight, but he won.
The two old solutions that we Colombians have given to the culture of annihilation clashed: the long road, Petro’s, which is the pacts for coexistence, and the short road, Hernández’s, which is to delegate politics to the figures of the day. He narrowly won the country that for just a couple of centuries has been rallying citizens around social democracy: it’s about time. And it is now up to President Petro to listen to a patient who has years of therapy ahead of him, restore prestige to solidarity – to the collectivity that the parties once were – and restore confidence in institutions that are truly superior to their tenants.
It is an enormous task that cannot remain utopian, in the rhetoric of any stage: to agree on a democracy that not only lives up to the definition of the dictionary, but also stages a liberal Constitution -the one of 1991- that has It is very clear that the solution to the Colombian horror is inclusion. Is the time.
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