Colombia begins a peaceful transition of power

President Duque meets President-elect Petro in Casa de Nariño/Presidencia

With enough distance between them to frame the Colombian flag and floral arrangement, on Thursday afternoon, President Iván Duque hosted President-elect Gustavo Petro in Casa de Nariño.

The meeting was the first encounter between the right-wing President and leftist leader since Duque defeated his political adversary in the 2018 elections. Yet despite four turbulent years in which the Senator for Colombia Humana movement led the opposition to Duque, referring to him on many occasions as an “autocrat” and “dictator,” Petro was welcomed to the doors of the presidential palace in Bogotá – Casa de Nariño – by Cabinet Chief María Paula Correa, the Administrative Director of the Presidency Víctor Muñoz, and Finance Minister, José Manuel Restrepo.

During a meeting that lasted one hour and 20 minutes, Duque and Petro discussed the transition of power, state of the nation’s finances, as well as security issues. Both men appeared relaxed in their Louis XVI arm chairs and graced by a Republican setting.

Petro entered the halls of power hours after the country’s National Electoral Council (CNE) certified the candidate’s victory and that of running mate Francia Márquez. On Friday, out-going Chancellor and Vice-President Marta Lucia Ramírez will meet the country’s first Black Vice-President and environmental activist who will play a key role implementing the 2016 peace accords in a Petro administration.

Beyond the photo op that left many entrenched on the extreme right and left fuming, the most important announcement followed the meeting when Petro invited former President Álvaro Uribe to a face-to-face meeting as part of a Gran Acuerdo Nacional – or translated as Grand National Agreement.

The former two-term President accepted the invitation in representation of his party Centro Democrático, thanking President Petro for the opportunity to talk “different visions of the same country.” President-elect Petro then responded to his most critical adversary, stating on Twitter: “I am sure that Colombia will appreciate that we find common ground for a common homeland.”