Wednesday, Mar 22, 2023

Colombians vote in divisive presidential election

Colombians vote in divisive presidential election

Leftist candidate Gustavo Petro was leading in polls and well on his way to become Colombia’s next president.

Colombians have voted in a polarised election marked by deep grievances and distrust, coming on the heels of a quarantine that has deepened divisions and a protest movement last year that inspired the country’s youth to take to the streets.

Polls opened at 8am (13:00 GMT) across the country on Sunday and closed at 4pm (21:00 GMT).

Voters trickled into Saint Thomas University, one of Bogotá’s 901 voting stations, on a drizzly Sunday morning to cast their votes.

Leidy Cordoba Ruiz, a 49-year-old social worker and mother of two, stood outside under an umbrella after casting her vote. She said she felt optimistic, but also uncertain.

“Hopefully the country will change,” she said.

“That this time there will be a real change.”

The election follows a heated campaign that has come to represent a divided country plagued by economic, social and racial inequality.

Colombia’s electorate is younger than ever and voters are disaffected by lack of opportunity and deepening inequality, as well as rising violence from armed groups that many attribute to a shoddy implementation of the country’s 2016 peace agreement.

This discontent propelled anti-government demonstrations that swept the country last year, and was amplified by the government’s brutal response.

Colombia’s current conservative president, Ivan Duque, is the country’s least popular head of state on record. This is due, in part, to his handling of the protests.

Leftist candidate Gustavo Petro, the former mayor of Bogotá and M-19 guerrilla leader, is currently leading in the polls at 35.8 percent. With his proposals to boost social investment, halt new oil exploration, and dismantle the notorious riot police known as ESMAD, Petro is well on his way to become Colombia’s first left-wing president.

His running mate, Afro-Colombian environmental activist Francia Marquez, who placed third overall in the presidential primaries, has her own devoted following and has galvanised the election with her promise to fight for Colombia’s “nobodies”.

Cordoba Ruiz said she cast her vote for Petro because she sees him as the candidate who “has the most affinity with the poor, that makes the most proposals for disadvantaged people”.

Growing up in the western department of Chocó, an Afro-majority region that has long suffered from violence due to armed groups and lack of public services, Cordoba Ruiz has seen the scarcity of opportunities in Colombia up-close.

She came to Bogotá 30 years ago in search of work, yet she still sees her two adult sons struggling to find well-paying jobs. She said she is also hopeful that Márquez, who knows the struggles of being an Afro-descendant woman, will “reach out a little more to our department”.

Unless Petro reaches the 50-percent threshold to stave off a second round of elections, Colombia is likely to hold a runoff on June 19 in which the top two candidates will face off.

Conservative establishment candidate Federico ‘Fico’ Gutierrez has been trailing Petro in second place for months, but populist wildcard Rodolfo Hernandez saw a surge in recent weeks that puts him neck and neck with Gutierrez for second place.

Recent polls put Gutierrez at 20.8 percent and Hernandez at 19.1 percent.

Gustavo Petro, presidential candidate with the Historical Pact coalition, leaves a polling station after voting during presidential elections in Bogota, Colombia on May 29, 2022

Petro presidency

Gutierrez, the former mayor of Medellín, Colombia’s second-largest city, has much of the same voter base as President Duque’s right-wing voters, as well as those who fear the socialist excesses of a Petro presidency.

As police monitored the blocked-off streets around the Corferias convention centre in central Bogotá, queueing voters were directed by poll station workers wearing “INFOVOTANTES” T-shirts at what was one of the city’s largest voting centres.

Cristina Camacho, a 48-year-old business administrator, waited for her husband before she got in line at the polls to vote for Gutierrez.

Camacho commended the outgoing administration for its fight against narco-trafficking and paramilitarism and said “it is in our best interest to have a government that continues to fight for the same thing.”

She admires Gutierrez’s record as the mayor of Medellín, and sees him as a candidate that will not take Colombia in the downward direction she sees neighbouring countries with leftist governments going, such as Venezuela – a possibility she fears with a Petro presidency.

“I don’t want my nation to have to emigrate,” she said.

Hernandez, the businessman and former mayor of the northern mid-sized city of Bucaramanga, has seen an unexpected boost in popularity in recent weeks. His anti-corruption platform and brusque comments appeal to many Colombians who are dissatisfied with the status quo.

Polls show Petro beating Gutierrez handily in a runoff election, but a race between Petro and Hernandez shows voters split evenly.

At the same time, this election has been marked by threats of violence and growing distrust in the country’s institutions.

Colombia’s election body, the national registrar, initially failed to count more than one million votes in March’s congressional elections and much of Monday’s presidential debate focused on the candidates’ concerns over electoral fraud.

Analysts fear this distrust could lead candidates to contest the outcome of the election, potentially leading to violence.

Cordoba Ruiz, the social worker, said she hopes that the young people who have been empowered in the past few years will have an effect on this election.

“This time young people have become more aware,” she said.

“They are more empowered and I think this is going to be positive.”


Related Articles

Credit Suisse's Scandalous History Resulted in an Obvious Collapse - It's time for regulators who fail to do their job to be held accountable and serve as an example by being behind bars.
Paris Rioting vs Macron anti democratic law
'Sexual Fantasy' Assignment At US School Outrages Parents
The US government has charged Chinese businessman Guo Wengui with leading a $1 billion fraud scheme that cheated thousands of followers out of their money.
Credit Suisse to borrow $54 billion from Swiss central bank
Russian Hackers Preparing New Cyber Assault Against Ukraine
"Will Fly Wherever International Law Allows": US Warns Russia After Drone Incident
If this was in Tehran, Moscow or Hong Kong
TRUMP: "Standing before you today, I am the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent World War III."
Drew Barrymore
China is calling out the US, UK, and Australia on their submarine pact, claiming they are going further down a dangerous road
A brief banking situation report
Lady bites police officer and gets instantly reaction
We are witnessing widespread bank fails and the president just gave a 5 min speech then walked off camera.
Donald Trump's asked by Tucker Carlson question on if the U.S. should support regime change in Russia?.
Silicon Valley Bank exec was Lehman Brothers CFO
Elon Musk Is Planning To Build A Town In Texas For His Employees
The Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse effect is spreading around the world, affecting startup companies across the globe
City officials in Berlin announced on Thursday that all swimmers at public pools will soon be allowed to swim topless
Fitness scam
Market Chaos as USDC Loses Peg to USD after $3.3 Billion Reserves Held by Silicon Valley Bank Closed.
Senator Tom Cotton: If the Mexican Government Won’t Stop Cartels from Killing Americans, Then U.S. Government Should
Banking regulators close SVB, the largest bank failure since the financial crisis
Silicon Valley Bank: Struggles Threaten Tech Startup Ecosystem"
Man’s penis amputated by mistake after he’s wrongly diagnosed with a tumour
In a major snub to Downing Street's Silicon Valley dreams, UK chip giant Arm has dealt a serious blow to the government's economic strategy by opting for a US listing
It's the question on everyone's lips: could a four-day workweek be the future of employment?
Is Gold the Ultimate Safe Haven Asset in Times of Uncertainty?
Spain officials quit over trains that were too wide for tunnels...
Corruption and Influence Buying Uncovered in International Mainstream Media: Investigation Reveals Growing Disinformation Mercenaries
Givenchy Store in New York Robbed of $50,000 in Merchandise
European MP Clare Daly condemns US attack on Nord Stream
Former U.S. President Carter will spend his remaining time at home and receive hospice care instead of medication
Tucker Carlson called Trump a 'demonic force'
Kamala Harris: "The United States has formally determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity."
US Joins 15 NATO Nations in Largest Space Data Collection Initiative in History
White House: No ETs over the United States
U.S. Jet Shoots Down Flying Object Over Canada
Nord Stream terror attack: David Sacks breaks down Sy Hersh's story
Being a Tiktoker might be expensive…
Miracle: El Salvador Search and Rescue teams, with the support of Turkish teams, rescued a woman and a child from the rubble 150 hours after the earthquake
SpaceX, the private space exploration company, made a significant breakthrough in their mission to reach space.
China's top tech firms, including Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, NetEase, and, are developing their own versions of Open AI's AI-powered chatbot, ChatGPT
This shocking picture, showing how terrible is the results of the earthquake in Turkey
President Joe Biden delivered the 2023 State of the Union Address , in order to help Americans that missed the 2022 speech, do not have internet, and suffer from short memory.
The desk of King Carlos Alberto of Sardinia has many secret compartments
Today's news from Britain - 9th February 2023
China has declined the US's request for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to speak with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe after the US Air Force shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon, according to the Pentagon
The five largest oil companies in the West generated combined profits of nearly $200 billion in 2022, which has led to increased calls for governments to impose tougher windfall taxes
2 earthquakes in Turkey killed over 2,300 people