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  • Colombian presidential candidate Gustavo Petro has vowed to focus on reducing poverty and inequality in Colombia if elected.

    Colombian presidential candidate Gustavo Petro has vowed to focus on reducing poverty and inequality in Colombia if elected. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 April 2018

The presidential hopeful has proposed boosting taxes on unproductive land and pushing landowners to sell their land to the state so that it can be redistributed.

Colombian presidential candidate Gustavo Petro has vowed in an interview to focus on reducing poverty and inequality in Colombia if elected.

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"I want to transform the country. It's what I have wanted since I was a boy. The core generator of problems in Colombia is inequality," Petro told Reuters in an exclusive interview.

Petro's center-left program includes expanding education access and implementing a progressive tax. He has proposed boosting taxes on unproductive land and pushing landowners to sell their land to the state so that it can be redistributed to campesinos.

Petro's far-right enemies have attempted to smear his image by claiming that he represents so-called 'castrochavismo' and would bring an economic crisis.

In the interview, he said he would attempt to move away from fossil fuels and reduce Colombia's dependency on oil. He then criticized Venezuela's government for failing to do the same.

Petro also said that he would push to expand investment in green energy if elected: "An investor is a gambler and the first thing he does is to examine the rules of the game. We want to put the rules of the game on the table, without hidden cards, we want to move from an extractive economy to a productive economy."

Petro, 57, is an economist who was formerly mayor of Colombia's capital, Bogota. His political life began as a member of the M19 guerrilla rebel group. He is currently about 10 points behind his right-wing opponent Ivan Duque.

The fate of Colombia's peace deal with the Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons (FARC), a former leftist rebel-group-turned-political party, may depend on the results of the elections.

A victory by the Uribismo-affiliated Duque would likely endanger the already precarious peace agreement, which Duque has fought against since the beginning of negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC.

A first round of elections will be held on May 27, and run-offs will be held in June if no candidate achieves more than 50 percent.


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