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Colombia Leads a New Latin American Left Into the Climate Fight

Even Mr. Petro’s opponents mostly wish him well.

At a protest in Arauca spearheaded by Mr. Arciniegas, the contractor, there were no denunciations of Mr. Petro, and the chants felt more like gentle suggestions.

“La reforma sí, pero no así,” went one. “Yes to reform, but not in this form.”

In the airy halls of the business district of the capital, Bogotá, executives who were open about not voting for Mr. Petro nevertheless praised his intelligence and oratory skills.

In explaining his support for Mr. Petro’s energy transition plans, Bruce MacMaster, the president of the National Business Association, pulled out a copy of a presentation he made at last year’s climate summit in Glasgow, detailing a plan for Colombia’s low-carbon future.

“When he talks about climate, and cocaine, we are with him. We have also put our lives into these fights,” Mr. MacMaster said. “But move away from fossil fuels too fast and Petro will lose everything: people’s faith, foreign investment, the strength of our currency.”

It would be better, he said, if Mr. Petro convinced the major industrial nations that buy Colombia’s oil and emit many times as much carbon dioxide to change their ways first.

“The United States, Europe, China, India — the future of the world depends on their leadership,” Mr. MacMaster said. “May Petro be their prophet. God knows we have lacked one on this issue.”

Genevieve Glatsky, Julie Turkewitz and Federico Rios contributed reporting.

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