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Can a Leftist President Change Colombia? | GZERO World

Can a leftist president change Colombia?

Colombia now has its first leftwing president: Gustavo Petro. He’s a [deep breath] sixty-two-year-old-ex-leftist-guerilla-turned-mayor-turned-opposition-leader who rode a wave of voter anger to a narrow victory over a populist construction magnate last June. Got that?

Petro was swept to power by a slim margin in June, thanks mainly to young Colombians. He had promised them something different in a country that's been rocked by mass protests over inequality and corruption, Ian Bremmer explains on GZERO World.

Colombia's new president, who started his political career as a leftist guerrilla in the 1990s, promises change. He wants to fight climate change by ending oil exploration and to massively increase social spending by taxing the rich more.

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“I’m a Fighter” — Colombia’s New Leftist President | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

Gustavo Petro: the guerilla-turned-president who wants to "develop capitalism"

Colombia is Latin America’s longest-standing democracy, but it’s never elected a leftist president … until now.

Gustavo Petro swept to power by a slim margin in June, thanks largely to young Colombian voters. What do they want from him? Change.

It won't be easy. Petro wants to provide free university education and health care, to end oil exploration, and to tax the rich. Will he deliver?

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Restoring Ties With Venezuela Is a No-Brainer for Colombia’s New President | GZERO World

Restoring ties with Venezuela is a no-brainer for Colombia's new president

One of Gustavo Petro's first moves after becoming president of Colombia was to restore diplomatic ties with neighboring Venezuela.

Why? Petro says that closing the border between two countries who share the same blood has led to an economic "catastrophe."

What's more, he tells Ian Bremmer in an exclusive interview with GZERO World, globalization at its purest is about trade between neighbors like Colombia and Venezuela, which the previous government destroyed "to the point of stupidity."

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Colombia’s New President Gustavo Petro: Biden Team Aware the War on Drugs Has Failed | GZERO World

Colombia's new president Gustavo Petro: Biden team aware the war on drugs has failed

Colombia has long been the United States' staunchest ally in Latin America. It's also been one of the longest standing democracies in the region. But it has never elected a leftist leader....until now.

Last June, former Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro made history eking out a narrow victory in the presidential election. Since being sworn into office last month, he has signaled a radically more liberal policy agenda.

He's also said he's ready to reassess the historically close US-Colombia relationship. In an exclusive GZERO World interview with Ian Bremmer, Petro's first broadcast interview with US media since taking office, Bremmer asks the new president if he thinks the United States wants to help him.

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Supporters of Iraqi leader Moqtada al-Sadr swim as they protest inside the Republican Palace in the Green Zone, in Baghdad.

REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

What We're Watching: Deadly clashes in Iraq, China-Russia military drills, Colombia-Venezuela restore ties

Iraq’s deepening political crisis

Hundreds of Iraqi protesters stormed the government palace and took to the streets Monday after popular Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose bloc won the most seats in parliamentary elections last fall, announced he was stepping back from politics. At least 30 people were killed and more than 380 were injured in clashes between al-Sadr supporters, Iran-aligned groups, and Iraqi security forces. Moreover, al-Sadr announced he was starting a hunger strike until the violence stops. It's the the worst violence Baghdad has seen in years, most of which is concentrated around the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses foreign embassies and government buildings. For almost a year, Iran-aligned parties have prevented al-Sadr from forming a new government, prompting his 73 lawmakers to resign en masse this summer in protest, which in turn led to sectarian clashes. Al-Sadr — who has long railed against Iran’s influence over Iraqi social and political life— retains widespread influence over some institutions and has proved adept at whipping his supporters into a frenzy. (Last month, hundreds of his supporters breached Baghdad’s Green Zone and occupied parliament.) The Supreme Court will decide on Tuesday whether parliament will be dissolved and new elections called – though the constitution says the legislature must agree to dissolve itself. That’s unlikely given that parliament is now dominated by a pro-Iran bloc, which became the biggest parliamentary faction by default after al-Sadr withdrew. Iraq’s military announced a nationwide curfew as the situation continues to deteriorate.

Updated on Aug. 30.

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Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan travels on a vehicle to lead a protest march in Islamabad, Pakistan.
REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

What We're Watching: Khan charged, Petro the peacemaker, Finland's partying PM, Russia-Ukraine latest

Former Pakistani PM charged under terror act

A Pakistani judge charged Monday former ousted PM Imran Khan with violating the anti-terror act for threatening judicial officers in a speech. Khan has been granted bail, but he could face several years in prison if he's convicted of the terror charge. Since he was removed in a no-confidence vote in April, the former PM has been touring the country, leading huge rallies trying to pressure the government into calling a snap election. Khan is plotting his comeback boosted by his resurgent popularity, which helped his party win a recent election in Punjab, the country's most populous province. The turmoil comes at the worst possible time for Pakistan, embroiled in a severe economic crisis: poor Pakistanis are suffering the most from double-digit inflation, and the country is on the brink of default on its sovereign debt. Khan's supporters have warned they'll march on Islamabad if he's arrested, so keep an eye out for Thursday, when the former PM is scheduled to appear before the judge. Meanwhile, he's been banned from speaking in public and his speeches removed from YouTube.

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Luisa Vieira

Is Latin America’s new “pink tide” for real?

Since it’s August we obviously can’t ask much of you, but try this for fun: take out a red marker and a black and white map of Latin America.

Now, color in all the countries currently led by leftist leaders. You’ll immediately be filling in five of the largest economies — Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Perú. By October, you’ll likely have added Brazil, the biggest of them all.

Along with stalwart leftists in Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and the new presidenta of Honduras, your map will have a big splash of rojo/vermelho bigger than any we’ve seen in at least 15 years. That’s when observers first hailed — or feared — a new “pink tide” in Latin America.

But is the region really back in the red, so to speak? Or is this pink tide different from previous ones? Spoiler: they are not the same. Let’s look at what’s going on.

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Annie Gugliotta

Petro at the Pinnacle: Colombia’s new president takes office

This Sunday, Gustavo Petro will take office as the first left-wing president in Colombia’s history. Petro, a one-time guerilla who rose to become mayor of Bogotá and later opposition leader in the Senate, was elected in June on a bold promise to crack open access to economic and political power in a country long governed by an insular elite.

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