The mobilization of women, especially the youngest, was key to the resounding victory of Gabriel Boric, in Chile; the feminist movement was also so that the Argentine president, Alberto Fernández, arrived at the Casa Rosada; or the Mexican so that Andrés Manuel López Obrador – who later betrayed that women’s bet – became president. All with a common factor: they are leftist politicians or self-styled progressives.
In Colombia, where the left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro leads the polls for the presidency, feminism appears as a determining issue. However, so far several resignations of important women from the leftist coalition (the Historic Pact) and the candidate’s positions on issues such as abortion show a problematic flank in the coming months.
The flame of controversy was lit precisely in an interview with this newspaper. “Feminism has stayed with the old traditional left in the intellectual sphere of the big city, without links with the population,” Petro said in September and caused a controversy that was already coming in crescendo since January 2021, when Angela María Robledo resigned from her party, which was her vice presidential ticket in the 2018 elections.
According to Petro, the need to hand over fertile land to women in an unequal country like Colombia is something that “feminism has not raised” (although this is an issue that has historically addressed the feminist struggle in Latin America) and that there is a ” popular feminism that does bring closer to the concrete possibility that women have power within this society” to the detriment of one who comes from the cities and in clear reference to the urban feminists who have criticized him.
Robledo, who walked away when the Colombia Humana party chose Hollman Morris, a journalist and politician denounced for mistreatment and domestic violence, as their candidate for mayor of Bogotá, rejected those words at the time. “When Gustavo Petro invited me to accompany him as his vice-presidential formula, he knew of my commitment to women from the popular sector in the cities and the countryside. Now it turns out that we live in an outdated feminism and in the meantime it makes alliances with anti-rights groups. Incoherent”, he said in response to Petro’s interview in EL PAÍS.
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She was not the only one. The Afro social leader Francia Márquez, whom many pointed to as his possible presidential candidate, raised her voice when Petro betrayed the agreement to include Afro leaders in the Senate lists. In addition to ethnic exclusion, she has also spoken out about the idea that the only valid feminism is the popular one. “Petro has to learn more about feminism,” he told the columnist for this newspaper, María Jimena Duzán. For Márquez, a feminist agenda is needed in all parties.
This Friday, 434 women from various regions and professions joined in a letter addressed to the Historical Pact in which they reject the actions of the leftist coalition, led by Petro, against the presidential candidacy of Francia Márquez. The attacks against Afro politics and their movement, the signatories of the statement point out, have also been directed at feminists. “These do not come exclusively from the “extreme right”, as has been said on social networks, this is the same as believing that there is no misogynistic, LGBTIphobic or racist violence in the Historical Pact. In addition, we have seen how, over the last few years, from accounts close to Human Colombia, smear campaigns have been promoted against feminist women, which has caused the departure of many of them”, they point out.
Petro’s position on the decriminalization of abortion that is being discussed in Colombia has also caused resentment. The candidate stated that he was not “pro-abortion” and that his proposal is to reach “zero abortion.” During a debate of candidates for the coalition, Márquez crossed Petro. “This is not a decision of men. I ask Petro how many women have to die until zero abortion arrives, the reality is that women are dying and criminalized,” he said.
From other shores they have also criticized the adherence of Christian parties to the Historical Pact, which includes one of its leaders, Alfredo Saade, who has been questioned for his sexist and exclusionary positions. Petro has responded that “putting red lines leads only to sectarianism.”
But, more recently, the resignation of Sara Tufano and Juana Afanador from their candidacy for the House of Representatives for the Democratic Pole, one of the parties that make up the alliance, once again brought to the table the problematic relationship of feminism in the coalition of left. The first had supported Petro in 2018, but left the party, among other reasons because of the entry of Christian and traditional politicians into the coalition. Tufano, sociologist and newspaper columnist Time, said in his resignation titled not everything goes that another of the alarms were the words of the candidate in EL PAÍS in which he suggested that he “had created popular feminism.” Afanador, also a sociologist, had demanded a feminist agenda and renounced her aspiration to the Chamber for Bogotá due to lack of guarantees.
All of them have had a common complaint: they are attacked and disqualified by followers of Petrism and they find it impossible to question the candidate without being seen as enemies. Robledo has said that the departure of the two feminists confirmed the call they made to Petro: “Change is with women or it will not be.”
“In addition to the history of violence that is going through us, I am increasingly convinced that the left in Colombia has not come to power because it is undemocratic, it is sexist, racist and it is incapable of articulating with social movements,” Tufano wrote recently. .
The gaps in feminist politics in the electoral campaign are not exclusive to the Historical Pact. After his resignation from Colombia Humana, Robledo had a short stint in the Center Coalition of Hope. “I came out after a fairly patriarchal practice in which the others, all men, met to make the decision to temporarily withdraw from the Green Party and were only informed of it a few hours before announcing it to the public,” he wrote in his recent book. feminize politics.
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