Last Sunday, under the bright skies of Bogotá, thousands of Colombians gathered in Plaza Bolívar to inaugurate Francia Márquez and Gustavo Petro as the Vice President and President of the first progressive government in the history of Colombia.
“Today, the popular mandate for peace, for dignified life, for social and environmental justice has brought us to this square and to all the squares of Colombia,” said Roy Barreras, incoming President of the Colombian Senate, in the opening speech. “This is the rebirth of hope.”
Standing before the crowd, Afro-Colombian land defender Francia Márquez took her oath of office, swearing before God, the people of Colombia, and her ancestors to serve as Vice President “*hasta que la dignidad sea costumbre.*” Until dignity becomes custom.
Soldiers marched the sword of Simón Bolívar, a great liberator of the Patria Grande, onto the inauguration stage — the same sword that the M-19, the guerrilla movement to which Gustavo Petro once belonged, stole in 1974 in act of rebellion against Colombia’s corrupt regime.
As Gustavo Petro prepared to take the podium, the crowd in Plaza Bolívar roared in unison. “No más guerra! No más guerra!” No more war. Wearing the presidential sash bestowed to him by María José Pizarro — feminist, Senator, daughter of Carlos Pizarro, commander of the M-19 shot down on own his path to the presidency in 1990 — Gustavo Petro inaugurated the ‘Government of Life.’
“Many times in our history we Colombians have been condemned to the impossible, to the lack of opportunities, to a resounding ‘No’. I want to tell all Colombians who are listening to me in Plaza Bolivar, in the surrounding areas, throughout Colombia and abroad that our second chance begins today… We must end, once and for all, six decades of violence and armed conflict — in fact, I would say, two centuries of permanent war, of eternal war, of perpetual war in Colombia. It can be done.”
In a sweeping address, Petro called for a new internationalism in Latin America and around the world — not “discourse, mere rhetoric,” but robust institutions to bind together the sister nations of the South, from the Arab World to Africa. “Today, we must be more united than ever.”
Above all, Gustavo Petro called for peace. “I will work to achieve true and definitive peace: like no one else, like never before,” he said. “The Government of Life is the Government of Peace.”
The Progressive International is proud to accompany Council member Gustavo Petro on this journey toward a true and definitive peace — in Colombia, across Latin America, and around the world.