Colombian candidate says he won’t nationalize property

Apr 18, 2022, 12:38 PM | Updated: 1:01 pm

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombian presidential front-runner Gustavo Petro pledged on Monday that he will not expropriate private property if he wins the nation’s presidency this year as critics in the South American country accuse the leftist candidate of wanting to make radical changes to the country’s economy.

Petro made the electoral promise in a public notary in Bogota, where he signed a document that said that “nothing or nobody will be expropriated” if he becomes president. In the document, Petro said he was obliged to make the unusual pledge, because his campaign has been tarnished by “lies and fear mongering.”

“The campaign for profound and true change in Colombia is being attacked constantly with rumors and misinformation,” the document read. “With clarity, I affirm that my proposal to transform this country is not based on, or includes any kind of expropriation.”

As the presidential race in Colombia enters its final month, Petro’s opponents have accused him of wanting to implement economic policies similar to those of Hugo Chavez. The former Venezuelan president nationalized dozens of industries, eroded the independence of his country’s central bank and imposed exchange controls as he vastly increased the government’s role in the economy.

In recent years, almost two million Venezuelans have fled to Colombia to escape their country’s economic troubles — including hyperinflation and the lowest wages in South America — which makes comparisons to Venezuela relevant among many voters in Colombia.

In presidential debates, Petro, who formerly described Chavez as a “great Latin American leader,” has distanced himself from the Venezuelan economic model, affirming that it relied too heavily on oil income. He’s added that if he becomes president he would like to promote alternative sources of energy and agricultural growth.

Petro is currently leading presidential polls in Colombia as the country reels from high unemployment rates, growing rates of poverty and a sluggish recovery from the pandemic that led to massive protests last year.

The senator obtained an 11 point lead over his closest rival in a survey conducted during the first week of April by the Centro Nacional de Consultoria polling firm, but is still short of the 50 percent required to win the May 29 election without a run off.

Petro leads a coalition of leftist parties known as the Historical Pact that has promised to increase corporate taxes, slow down oil exploration and put tariffs on some imported goods, to benefit local farmers.

German Navas, a law professor and congressman for the leftist Polo Democratico party, said on Colombia’s Blu Radio that the document signed by Petro at the notary on Monday is not legally binding, but is meant to clarify his positions.

In his campaign manifesto Petro does not mention the word expropriation but has promised to “democratize” access to land in Colombia by increasing taxes on large rural estates that are deemed unproductive.

The candidate has said that landowners who do not wish to pay the new fees can instead hand some of their land over to the government as payment. It will then be distributed among landless peasants or people who were displaced from their villages by decades of violence in the countryside.

Petro has also promised to reform the nation’s pension system by transferring the savings of people making less than two monthly minimum wages from privately run companies into a state-owned pension fund. The changes would shake up the pensions system, as they would affect a majority of the nation’s contributors, and some critics have likened them to nationalizing pension funds.

Petro said that these changes would help to provide payments to millions of people who are currently not covered by the system.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Haitian migrant Gerson Solay, 28, carries his daughter, Bianca, as he and his family cross into Can...
Associated Press

US, Canada to end loophole that allows asylum-seekers to move between countries

President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced a plan to close a loophole to an immigration agreement.
3 days ago
Expert skateboarder Di'Orr Greenwood, an artist born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and...
Associated Press

Indigenous skateboard art featured on new stamps unveiled at Phoenix skate park

The Postal Service unveiled the “Art of the Skateboard" stamps at a Phoenix skate park, featuring designs from Indigenous artists.
3 days ago
(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
9 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
17 days ago
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamo...
Associated Press

How the 4 abducted Americans in Mexico were located

The anonymous tip that led Mexican authorities to a remote shack where four abducted Americans were held described armed men and blindfolds.
17 days ago
Tom Brundy points to a newly built irrigation canal on one of the fields at his farm Tuesday, Feb. ...
Associated Press

Southwest farmers reluctant to idle farmland to save water

There is a growing sense that fallowing will have to be part of the solution to the increasingly desperate drought in the West.
24 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)...
Cox Communications

Valley Boys & Girls Club uses esports to help kids make healthy choices

KTAR’s Community Spotlight focuses on the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley and the work to incorporate esports into children's lives.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Colombian candidate says he won’t nationalize property