- [ ] Colombia elections: Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernández run for president – My Splickety Blog

Colombia elections: Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernández run for president

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BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Colombians headed to the polls on Sunday for a high-stakes election between two populist presidential applicants promising to basically turn out to be the rustic.

This is a presidential election not like some other in Colombia’s historical past, one that may take a look at the long-running however fragile democracy within the 3rd greatest country in Latin The us. It will mark the beginning of a dramatic shift within the nation’s financial type, the function of its govt and its courting with different nations within the hemisphere — together with america, its maximum vital best friend.

Citizens have cried out for a transformation from the established order. They’re not easy any individual greatly other from the right-wing incumbent, Iván Duque. And for the primary time, they’ll choose from two anti-establishment presidential applicants who ran with out the backing of the normal political category that has ruled Colombia for generations.

Gustavo Petro, a senator and previous guerrilla member who vows to reshape the commercial machine to boost up the deficient, may just develop into the rustic’s first leftist president, bringing an finish to 2 centuries of center-right management. Rodolfo Hernández, a rich businessman and outsider candidate who pledges to root out corruption, may just ship the rustic down an unpredictable trail. Polls display the 2 applicants tied, atmosphere the level for a decent race.

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“I don’t assume we’ve had an election this is this shut, and the place such a lot is at stake, for many years,” mentioned Sandra Botero, a political scientist at Colombia’s College del Rosario. “Irrespective of who wins, we appear to be status at a essential juncture.”

The election marks but some other blow to the political institution in Latin The us, the place citizens have sought to punish incumbent governments for the devastation wrought by way of the coronavirus pandemic. If Petro wins, it could upload to a wave of South American nations having a look left: In Peru, a upward thrust in poverty helped propel Marxist rural schoolteacher Pedro Castillo to the presidency final 12 months. In Chile, the free-market type of the area, citizens this 12 months selected as president 36-year-old former scholar activist Gabriel Boric. And in Brazil, the biggest nation in Latin The us, leftist former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva leads polls to unseat President Jair Bolsonaro in October.

Many Colombians vote casting within the nation’s capital on Sunday mentioned they had been determined for one thing — anything else — other from the presidents of the previous.

“We’ve been subjected to the proper and the extreme-right for greater than 200 years … and issues listed here are unhealthy, unhealthy, unhealthy,” mentioned Henry Perdomo, a 60-year-old who works in production moments after he voted for Petro in a working-class community in Bogotá’s south. “We’d like a transformation.”

However a few of his neighbors feared what that adjust may just convey. Blanca Elena Timón Diaz, 52 who used to paintings cleansing homes, nervous that Petro would jeopardize her financial savings and “flip the rustic into Venezuela.” Her vote for Hernández was once, greater than anything else, a vote in opposition to the left.

“He doesn’t have a lot revel in, however he’ll let me are living in peace,” Timón mentioned.

Campaigns at the left and the proper have made accusations of electoral fraud, and a up to date lapse in a legislative vote depend additional deepened distrust within the nation’s electoral machine. Fears are mounting that the shedding candidate on Sunday may just contest the effects and spark civil unrest 12 months after historical protests swept the rustic. In Bogotá, some companies started boarding up their storefronts in anticipation of conceivable violence.

“When you give other people any minimum reason why to visit the streets, they’ll do it,” mentioned Juan Camilo Acero, 25, who works at an unbiased publishing corporate. “After the entirety that came about final 12 months, persons are pissed off. However confidently we’ll see that within the polls and no longer within the streets.”

On Wednesday, police in more than one towns detained activists who stood at the entrance traces of final 12 months’s protests, accusing them of threatening to disturb public order across the elections.

The vote got here after probably the most violent election cycle in additional than a decade, wherein each campaigns confronted assassination threats. No less than 290 municipalities in Colombia are at “excessive and severe chance” of armed violence surrounding the election, Colombia’s ombudsman’s place of job warned final week.

Citizens are opting for between two competing visions of alternate for the rustic. Each applicants have sought to faucet into standard frustration in a rustic the place greater than 40 % of persons are dwelling in poverty and just about part are suffering to search out sufficient to devour.

Two outsider applicants for president head to runoff in Colombia

Petro, the previous mayor of Bogotá working in his 3rd presidential race, proposes redistributive insurance policies similar to loose upper training and a common public health-care machine. He says he would elevate taxes at the 4,000 wealthiest Colombians whilst setting up a minimal salary for unmarried moms. He plans to finish new oil exploration and transfer the rustic towards renewable power.

Hernández, the previous mayor of Bucaramanga who hasn’t ever held or run for a countrywide place of job, pledges to take on govt corruption, lower prices and cut back the nationwide deficit.

Each applicants have recommended mentioning states of emergency to push via their agendas with out the make stronger of Congress. And each Petro and Hernández had been accused of authoritarian inclinations of their time as mayors.

In Bogotá, Petro oversaw a slew of personnel departures and was once criticized for refusing to hear his advisers. Within the midsize town of Bucaramanga, the foul-mouthed Hernández was once recognized for insulting his workers and was once as soon as suspended for slapping the face of a town councilman. Hernández was once additionally charged by way of Colombia’s lawyer common with improperly giving out waste control contracts to profit his son. (He denies the accusations however is scheduled to stand trial subsequent month).

Both presidency can have profound implications for the remainder of the hemisphere, and may just reshape the rustic’s function as america’ maximum solid spouse within the area. Each applicants have criticized the 2 nations’ shared conflict on medicine and feature supported some form of drug legalization. They’ve criticized aerial fumigation of coca, the bottom plant for cocaine. And they might revive diplomatic family members with Venezuela, a drastic shift from the Duque management’s competitive manner in opposition to the socialist govt of Nicolás Maduro.

Petro has nervous some U.S. officers by way of proposing a transformation within the extradition treaty between the 2 nations and in overseas business agreements. Hernández has published few information about any of his insurance policies, together with his technique to international relations. “It’s in point of fact a bounce into the unknown relating to the bilateral courting,” mentioned Kevin Whitaker, former U.S. ambassador to Colombia and now a fellow on the Atlantic Council.

The emotionally-charged marketing campaign has steadily performed out on social media, via common scandals and assaults on Twitter and in viral movies on Hernández’s quirky TikTok account.

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In Bucaramanga, resident Monica Cordero lives correct subsequent to a park renovated throughout Hernández’s time as mayor, a challenge that has now develop into a hub for crime and drug offers. Cordero continues to imagine in Hernández, a person she says “makes positive the cash is going to the deficient.”

“He at all times presentations his face,” she mentioned. “He’s no longer a political candidate.”

However to Luz Marina Ríos, 48, Hernández is a “misogynist” who places down girls. He has been recorded announcing that girls must keep on with elevating kids and that Venezuelan girls are a “manufacturing unit for making deficient kids.”

Ríos isn’t delighted with Petro both, however she’s determined for a president who will in finding new answers to support the lives of suffering households like hers.

She misplaced her process at a confection corporate throughout the pandemic, and hasn’t been ready to search out paintings ever since. Her circle of relatives has needed to scale back on foods as meals prices have skyrocketed; a pound of meat that used to price about $2 now prices $4, she mentioned. Her teenage son has had to pick out up paintings at the weekends to pay for his bus to university.

“We’ll both repair ourselves or we’ll worsen,” she mentioned, “however we want a complete alternate.”

Diana Durán contributed to this newsletter.

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