Colombia’s capital city of Bogota elects first female mayor

Claudia Lopez with the Green Alliance celebrates her election victory as mayor of Bogota, in Bogota, Colombia, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. Colombians went to the polls to choose mayors, state governors and local assemblies. (AP Photo/Ivan Valencia)

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BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia’s capital city elected its first female mayor Sunday in what is being hailed as an important advancement for both women and LGBT rights.

Claudia López won the race for mayor of Bogota on a platform promising to combat corruption and advance equal rights for minority communities.

The Alianza Verde candidate captured over 1.1 million votes, or about 35 percent of the vote, defeating runner-up Carlos Galán by 2.7 percentage points.

With her victory, López also becomes the first openly lesbian mayor of a capital city in Latin America, a region slowly advancing in improving LGBT rights but where long-standing cultural biases and inequality remain barriers.

“This is the day of the woman,” she said to a jubilant crowd. “We knew that only by uniting could we win. We did that. We united, we won and we made history!”

She vowed to continue uniting Colombians across the political spectrum and work to improve daily life issues like public transportation.

Many in the LGBT community praised López’s victory as an important step forward in a country where gay and lesbians still confront harassment. Earlier this year, a man was caught on camera pushing and screaming profanities at two gay men in their early 20s hugging and holding hands at an upscale mall in Colombia’s capital.

Blanca Duran, a former city politician, told the El Espectador newspaper that with López’s win, Bogota is “setting an example for the country.”

“It is showing that it is a city with respect, with diversity, in which we can advance rights,” she said.

Centrist and progressive party candidates won several important posts in Colombia’s local elections, the first since the signing of an historic peace accord with leftist rebels.

Conservative former President Álvaro Uribe acknowledged his party’s setback, stating on Twitter that “I recognize the defeat with humility.”

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