Colombia’s presidential election: A rattled nation appears to be like left, however will voters make historic pivot?




On Sunday, a 39-million robust voters shall be eligible to solid their ballots within the first spherical of voting. If not one of the candidates win by an absolute majority, it’s going to go to a runoff vote, slated for June 19. Here is what you want to find out about Colombia’s election. The final election was 4 years in the past. Why is there one other so quickly? Colombian presidents are solely elected for a single, four-year time period. And Colombians are prepared for change: Proper-wing President Iván Duque’s approval score is at a low, together with his tenure marred by his administration’s dealing with of police conduct, inequality, and clashes between organized legal teams.That discontent has positioned the left in sight of the presidency for the primary time within the nation’s historical past. In the meantime, extra conservative candidates are rallying voters to belief a extra gradual collection of reforms to right Colombia’s course.Who’s operating? Whereas there are 6 candidates on the poll, simply three candidates are anticipated to interrupt by way of with voters, based on the newest polls. Entrance-runner Gustavo Petro is a former guerrilla fighter and mayor of Bogota, whose 2022 bid marks his third presidential marketing campaign. The 62-year-old left-wing candidate is operating on a platform that proposes a radical overhaul of the nation’s economic system to fight one of many highest inequality charges on the planet. The previous guerrilla fighter, who right now preaches reconciliation and an finish to violence, has framed his marketing campaign round whether or not Colombia is able to elect a revolutionary. He is campaigned on attracting overseas funding in clear power, new applied sciences, transportation and telecommunications.Petro is anticipated to go head-to-head with right-wing candidate Federico “Fico” Gutierrez, 47, the previous mayor of Medellin. Gutierrez is operating on a message of continuity, saying Colombia must observe the identical path of financial progress and pro-business insurance policies because it has accomplished over the previous twenty years. In the meantime, 77-year-old entrepreneur Rodolfo Hernandez, the previous mayor of Bucaramanga — Colombia’s seventh largest metropolis, has surged in reputation over the previous couple of weeks, attracting centrist voters who reject Petro’s revolutionary calls and Gutierrez’s traditionalism. Hernandez’s distinctive social-media marketing campaign has drawn comparisons to that of former US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. The self-proclaimed “King of TikTok” has adopted a confrontational stance with conventional media: He didn’t seem in a number of of the televised debates organized by Colombia’s important broadcasters, and barely gave interviews to overseas retailers — though he did seem on CNN, sporting his pajamas, saying that he was a “man of the folks.” The primary Black VP?Petro’s operating mate, vice-presidential candidate Francia Marquez, has despatched shockwaves by way of Colombia’s political scene. The 40-year-old Black feminist and single-mother garnered the third-most votes in March’s major elections, together with her charismatic rallies attracting supporters throughout the nation. If elected, she would turn out to be the primary Afro-Colombian to carry government powers.Colombians of African descent, the second largest group of its form in South America, have lengthy been marginalized in politics and in society. Marquez’s candidacy has given tens of millions of Afro-Colombians an opportunity to determine themselves with a nationwide politician — and hope for societal change of their nation. Throughout a current speech in Bogota, she quoted Martin Luther King saying she additionally had “the dream to see my nation at peace.”In comparison with Petro, who has been in politics for 20 years, Marquez is a part of a brand new wave of progressive leftists in Latin America who’re prioritizing points just like the setting. In 2018, she received the Goldman Environmental Prize for efficiently organizing a ladies’s group to cease unlawful gold mining on their ancestral land. She’s additionally an advocate for LGBTQ rights, gender points, and financial equality.The economic system, safety and drugsColombia has been among the many quickest rising international locations in Latin America lately, however that progress shouldn’t be trickling all the way down to working households and poorer populations. Petro is counting on voters disillusioned by the nation’s financial outlook and who’ve suffered probably the most within the final 4 years, as wages stagnated underneath Duque’s watch.As an entire, the nation is richer than it was since Duque got here to energy in 2018, nonetheless the worth of the typical employee’s annual wage has dropped considerably because the Colombian peso has plunged 40% in worth towards the greenback since. That scenario is simply exacerbated by rising inflation and the warfare in Ukraine.Gutierrez factors as an alternative to previous progress, saying that moderately than an overhaul, Colombia’s economic system wants focused reforms to proceed on the identical path of growth. Whereas Hernandez can be attempting to take advantage of some voters’ discontent with the standard political system, his method on the economic system — with a deal with corruption — is extra reasonable than Petro’s.On neighboring Venezuela, Petro has stated he plans to re-establish diplomatic relations, even with strongman Nicolás Maduro in energy. In the meantime, Gutierrez final week informed CNN he is prepared to reopen industrial relationships on the Venezuelan border, however is reluctant to acknowledge what he calls “a dictatorship that has prompted a lot harm to the folks.”The election can be being held because the nation’s safety scenario is deteriorating.Earlier this month, the infamous “Clan del Golfo” drug cartel imposed an “armed curfew” in retaliation to the US’ extradition of Diaro Usuga “Otoniel,” considered one of its bosses, with six folks killed and over 180 automobiles attacked throughout the nation’s Caribbean coast. And throughout the first three months of this 12 months alone, almost 50,000 Colombians have been forcibly confined because of ongoing clashes between armed teams, based on the United Nations. The violence is tied to the nation’s narcotics manufacturing and trafficking, with Colombia’s cocaine manufacturing having considerably elevated lately. The pandemic has coincided with an uptick of legal exercise, with a number of teams exerting de-facto management over swathes of Colombian territory together with the Arauca, Cauca and Catatumbo areas. The right way to restore state management over these areas — and combat again the cartels — is a key dialog on this election, and can show a formidable problem for the following president. Petro has proposed to sort out the issue by legalizing hashish and partially de-criminalizing the consumption of cocaine and different medicine. He has stated that he favors partaking with legal teams by way of peace agreements akin to the 2016 peace take care of the now-demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP) that delivered to an finish to over half a century of guerrilla battle between the state and communist rebels. Petro has been the goal of criticism for his guarantees of “land democratization” and “social forgiveness” to convicted criminals, together with these charged for corruption.In distinction, Gutierrez helps a extra conventional method within the combat towards crime. Because the mayor of Medellin, he was nicknamed “the Sheriff” for his participation in police raids towards gangsters and has taken that ethos with him right now, promising to create a brand new particular police models concentrating on robberies and murders at nationwide stage, and the development of extra jails. Whereas all candidates are presenting their plans for the longer term, how Colombia mends the injuries of its previous shall be simply as current on the poll.