Colombia President-Elect Strikes Moderate Tone

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Sen. Gustavo Petro won Colombia's presidential election on Sunday, defeating former Bucaramanga mayor Rodolfo Hernandez on a platform largely focused on environmentalism and bridging the country's social divide.

In his acceptance speech, Petro, who has vowed to stop domestic oil exploration and ban open-pit mining, struck a moderate tone, saying his government would “develop capitalism” by moving from the "old extractivist economy to a productive one” in order to overcome the country’s “pre-modernity” and “feudalism."

In her first interview as vice president-elect, Petro's running mate, environmental activist Francia Marquez, appeared to reinforce that message, telling local television station Noticias Caracol, “We are not going to expropriate anything.”

Petro, who as a teenager was part of an armed rebel group, will take office in August, a year after antigovernment protests over a range of issues rocked the country. The 62 year-old president-elect has promised to increase Colombia's tax collection, which is one of the lowest in the region, as well as reduce its poverty rate and begin negotiations with the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional left-wing guerilla group.

On Tuesday, Petro tweeted that he had a "very friendly" conversation with US President Joe Biden. The previous day he said that he had a 20-minute conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who "expressed his congratulations for our election and we discussed the peace process and actions against climate change in our continent."

Many observers are watching to see who Petro will appoint to head Colombia's Ministry of Finance. One name that is frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for the role is Rudolf Hommes Rodriguez, who served in the position under the government of President Cesar Gaviria in the early 1990s and backed Petro in the second round of the presidential ballot.

"We have an opportunity to take another course, and who knows when he will appear again," Hommes recently tweeted.

Economist Alejandro Gaviria Uribe, who previously served as minister of health and rector of the Universidad de los Andes, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate to head the country's finance ministry.

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