Petro’s promise of change in Colombia must improve lives of Venezuelans taking refuge there
Petro’s promise of change in Colombia must improve lives of Venezuelans taking refuge there

Petro’s promise of change in Colombia must improve lives of Venezuelans taking refuge there

Originally published in the Miami Herald.

Colombia’s new president, Gustavo Petro, promises sweeping changes. Entrenched inequality, coca eradication, military offensives and dependence on fossil fuel all are targets for reform. Addressing his supporters on the night of his victory in June, Petro — the first left-wing politician to become president in Colombia’s recent history — also called for years of regional bickering to end and a “dialogue in the Americas without any people being excluded.”

Achieving unity, or just a bit more co-operation, in a region where governments range from hard left to far right, and from despotic to democratic, will be no easy feat. Still, Petro’s stance will be decisive for Latin America.

Colombia’s spat with its neighbor Venezuela is the most spiteful bilateral stand-off in the hemisphere, with diplomatic ties severed for more than three years, frequent border closures and accusations of destabilization plots flying in both directions. A bit of goodwill could do much to mend these relations. But what that means for the 2.5 million Venezuelans who have fled to Colombia in search of safety is not clear.

The full op-ed can be found here