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Waiting in the (Left) Wings

Gustavo Petro used to be a member of a notorious Colombian guerrilla group. Now, he’s running for president



GUERILLA MARKETING Supporters hold signs for Petro in Tunja, a city northeast of Bogotá, the capital.

”The lack of reporters in Syria has led to an even more fervent propaganda war.”

MORE THAN THREE DECADES AGO, THE M-19, a center-left Colombian guerrilla group, stormed the Palace of Justice, the country’s top court, to condemn then–President Belisario Betancur for allegedly violating a truce. A 28-hour siege ensued, as militants squared off against the armed forces, leaving dozens dead, the building burned and the country mired in chaos.

A month before the siege, in October 1985, the national army detained a young militant named Gustavo Petro—who was not part of the raid—and tortured him for days at a cavalry school. After his release, Petro helped craft a peace treaty between the militants and the government.

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SIX MORE YEARS It was close to midnight on March 18th and a triumphant Vladimir Putin stood at a podium at his campaign headquarters near Red Square. Dressed in a jacket and open-necked shirt, Russia’s longtime leader looked weary but satisfied. He had just secured a fourth presidential term in a landslide election, extending his rule for another six years, until 2024 and maybe beyond. What will that mean for America and the world?