The relatives of the new Colombian President have gone into exile in Montreal

The new Colombian president’s relatives involved in his election campaign were forced into exile in Montreal years ago because their security was threatened.

• Also read: Gustavo Petro elected first left-wing president in Colombia’s history

• Also read: The Colombian diaspora relieved

“We are refugees precisely because of our activism. Our family paid a lot for their political activities in Colombia,” testifies Adriana Petro, Gustavo Petro’s younger sister, who came to Quebec in 2007.

His 62-year-old brother was elected Colombia’s head of state on Sunday night, becoming the first left-wing president in the country’s history with 50.4% of the vote.


GEN - THE PETRO FAMILY OF THE NEW PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA

Gustavo Petro, ex-M-19 guerrilla, longtime senator and former mayor of Bogota, defeated Rodolfo Hernández, a wealthy right-wing businessman.

As in other elections, his sister took care of the mobilization of pro-petro troops, this time internationally within the organization Colombia Humana.


GEN - THE PETRO FAMILY OF THE NEW PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA

His son Andrés, who has lived in Montreal for several years, was also involved and witnessed the elections held in Montreal.

Pursued and threatened

However, the new president and his family are often the target of persecution, barely veiled surveillance and numerous death threats in their home country.

This prompted his mother, sister, two nieces and one of his five children to seek refuge in Quebec.

Gustavo Petro, he stayed.

“It is very dangerous. The law does not forgive and Gustavo has many enemies ”, also worries his mother, Clara Urrego Duarte, 84, at the end of the line.


GEN - THE PETRO FAMILY OF THE NEW PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA

As of August, his son faces “very tough” opposition while his party is far from having a majority in the Senate or House of Representatives.

“Although the right is fragmented into several parties, it is easy for them to join forces and challenge the future government,” predicts Felipe Botero, a political scientist at the University of the Andes.

Finally!

Despite all these difficulties, the atmosphere was festive during the unveiling of Sunday’s voting results, which the Petro clan watched live from Laval.

“It’s more than a change of president, it’s a change of mentality,” enthuses Adriana Petro. “For me, it’s total satisfaction.”

“Many cried […] My father has been fighting for this for 40 years. Now he can really do what he thinks is best for Colombia,” added Andrés Petro, who works at a Hispanic grocery store in Montreal.


Gustavo Petro's son Andrés Petro.

Camille pays

Gustavo Petro’s son Andrés Petro.

However, his loved ones could not personally congratulate him on this historic victory. “He spent the whole evening on the phone with presidents all over the world!” says his sister with great pride.

– With Camille Payant and AFP

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