June 30, 2022

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Election in Colombia: How are the votes for the presidency going?

debt…Cello Camacho / Reuters

Colombians say this is the most significant election in decades.

On Sunday, the third most populous country in Latin America went to the polls to elect a new president. The country’s economic model, its democratic integrity and the livelihoods of millions of people living in abject poverty are at stake.

“One always tends to say that these are the most important elections ever,” said Elizabeth Unger, a longtime Colombian political analyst.

Polls show that Gustavo Pedro, a senator and former member of the rebel group, is ahead of two former right-wing mayors, Federico Guterres and Rodolfo Hernandez. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent, a second round will be held on June 19 between the top two finishers.

If Pedro wins, he will become Colombia’s first left – wing president, marking a milestone in a country long ruled by a conservative ruling class.

His uprising not only reflects a shift to the left across Latin America, but also reflects a drive against incumbent governments that have mobilized power as deepening epidemic poverty and inequality, intensifying the perception that the region’s economies are primarily structured to serve the elite.

“We believe in real political and social change,” said 25-year-old Diego Guzmn, describing the vote for Pedro as a rejection of the “ruling political class.”

Pedro vowed to transform Colombia’s economic system, fueling inequality, expanding social programs, ending oil exploration and shifting the country’s focus on domestic agriculture and industry.

Colombia has long been a strong ally of the United States in the region, and Pedro has called for a reshuffle of relations, including changes in the war’s war on drugs and a reassessment of the bilateral trade agreement that could lead to a confrontation with Washington. .

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Gutierrez, who has the backing of the majority of the Conservative establishment, recommends moderate changes to the current situation, such as paying more money to local governments.

Hernandez, who was relatively unknown before he began to rise in the polls in the final days of the campaign, runs a popular anti-corruption platform, but raised the alarm bells with a plan to declare a state of emergency to achieve his goals.

Many voters are tired of rising prices, high unemployment, low wages, rising education costs and rising violence, and a clear majority of Colombians have a negative view of current President Evan Duke. Conservative elite.

However, some Colombians say voting for Pedro is a risk, but they are willing to take it. “It scares me so much that they continue to rule us,” said Helena Osorio, 25, a nurse who earns slightly more than the minimum wage.

Not everyone agrees. Juan Sebastian Ray, 21, a political organizer who supports Guterres, said he views Pedro as a bad leader.

“I’m very scared of Gustavo Pedro. I’m not afraid of him because of the government plan or his ideas, but because of his charm.”

The election comes at a time when opinion polls suggest growing distrust of the country’s institutions, including the National Register of Elections. It is a matter of concern that the candidates who lost the presidential election were accused of malpractice due to errors in the register for recounting the votes in the March legislative elections.

Violence is on the rise in the country, undermining the democratic process. Election Monitoring Mission, Local Committee, Qualified The pre-election period is the most violent in the last 12 years.

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Both Pedro and his running partner Francia Marquez have received death threats, which have led to the strengthening of their defenses, including bodyguards with riot gear.

Despite these dangers, elections have encouraged many Colombians, whose voices have long been under-represented at the highest levels of power, giving the process a sense of hope. That sense of hope was inspired by Marquez, a former domestic worker and environmental activist who, if he wins his candidacy, will become the country’s first black vice president.

His campaign focuses on the fight against formal injustice, and his most popular slogan is “Live tasty”, which means “live rich and dignified”.

In Sophia Villa Y Megan Zenetsky Collaborated with reporting from Bogot.