The first poll with Petro as president shows that the honeymoon is serious

The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, at the Andean Community summit in Lima.CRIS BOURONCLE (AFP)

Colombian President Gustavo Petro is enjoying his honeymoon on the way to his first month in power. The promised change has come, for the time being, with a sense of relief in public opinion. The first movements of the left-wing president land in a climate of optimism, which reaches the implementation of the peace agreement and the normalization of relations with the Venezuela of Nicholas Maduro, according to the results of the traditional bimonthly survey Invamer Poll, which has been taking the pulse of the country for 30 years. In the first measurement of the Petro era, which took office on August 7, 56% of those consulted approve of his nascent management, while 20% disapprove.

After toning down his image during the campaign, Petro, elected with just under 51% of the vote, had never been so valued in Colombia. In the absence of an immediate precedent with the left-wing politician as incumbent president, these figures contrast with the red numbers of Ivan Dukewhich went through a prolonged crisis of popularity, never reached that percentage – not even during the upturn that he experienced in the middle of the pandemic – and he said goodbye with 27% approval for 68% disapproval in the July measurement. Vice President Francia Márquez, herself an electoral phenomenon, showed numbers similar to those of Petro, approved by 54% and disapproved by 18% of those surveyed.

Colombian President marks the path of the new Latin American progressivism, with the novelty of incorporating an ambitious environmental agenda and postulating an economic model that allows extractivism to be overcome. But he is also forced to deal with thorny issues with the old left, represented in authoritarian regimes like Cuba and Venezuela. The turnaround in foreign policy has been notable, marked by the difficult normalization of relations with Caracas, completely broken during the term of Duque, the most enthusiastic promoter of the failed “diplomatic siege” on Maduro. A majority of 54% believes that Colombia’s international relations are improving, when under Duque that figure never exceeded 42%.

Despite the fact that Hugo Chávez’s heir continues to be widely repudiated –with an 89% unfavorable image–, the shift in Colombian diplomacy, placed at the service of peace, is welcome. 79% of those surveyed agree with restore relations with Venezuela, and 62% that they will be more respectful and prosperous every day. Even the unfavorability of President Nicolás Maduro broke the 90% floor for the first time since 2015.

The long shadow of ‘Castrochavism’, with which his detractors usually attack Petro, has lost strength. 56% disagree with the possibility that Colombia could be in the future in the situation in Venezuela, while 41% agree – a setback compared to the 68% who believed it possible in February, at the start of the electoral campaign. –. “Little by little, the fallacies with which they pretended that the left would never come to power are being dismantled,” sociologist Sara Tufano, close to the Historical Pact, the motley coalition that brought Petro to power, reacted to the survey.

The discussion about peace has been reinstated. The Petro government intends to implement with greater determination the agreement that Juan Manuel Santos signed with the extinct FARC guerrilla, and this new impulse is received with optimism. In a notable jump, 47% of those consulted consider that the implementation of the agreements is on the right track, the highest figure since 2016, compared to 42% who believe that it is on the wrong track. Although the difference may seem narrow, throughout the period of Duque, a critic of that historic pact, that question remained in the red, with pessimism installed around 70%. In the same sense, 57% now believe that the Government will comply with the agreement, while a majority remained incredulous about that compliance while Duque was in the House of Nariño. The rebound even reaches the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), the transitional justice system that emerged from the peace agreements, which reaches a 44% favorable image for 42% unfavorable.

In addition to implementation, new dialogues with armed groups, and in particular with the ELN guerrillas, have returned to the political spotlight with the so-called “total peace” proposed by the president. 76% of those surveyed by Invamer state that the best option to solve the problem of the guerrillas and the armed groups is to insist on dialogues until peace agreements are reached, while only 21% choose not to dialogue and try to defeat them militarily. Along the same lines, 69% agree that the Government resume the negotiation with the ELN, as has already been suggested. The last active guerrilla in Colombia, however, has a broad negative image that remains at 84%.

Although the numbers smile at the Executive, an item on the agenda that it intends to promote faces greater resistance. A majority of 55% disagree with the idea of suspend oil and gas exploration, which supports 44%. In a country that until now had been considered conservative on social issues, resistance to progressive issues such as legalizing drug trafficking and consumption (71%), the adoption of same-sex couples (59%) or the legalization of cannabis remains. recreational (51%).

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