CARACAS, Venezuela – Colombian citizens will go to the polls on Sunday, May 29 to choose who will be their country’s president for the next four years.
Eight candidates will face each other in this next election, the polls currently favoring the socialist and former guerrilla fighter Gustavo Petro.
Of all the participating candidates and political parties, the three main coalitions vying for the presidency are:Equipo for Colombia” (Team for Colombia) coalition, made up of centre-right and right-wing parties supporting Federico Gutiérrez; there “Pacto Histórico for Colombia” (Historic Pact for Colombia), coalition made up of left-wing parties supporting Gustavo Petro; and the Centro Esperanza (center of hope) coalition of centrist and centre-left parties supporting Sergio Fajardo.
Other candidates and coalitions include Rodolfo Hernández of theLiga de Gobernantes Anticorruption” (Anti-Corruption Governors League), John Milton Rodríguez of the “Colombia Justa Libres” (Fair and Free Colombia), Enrique Gómez Martínez de “National Salvation” (National Salvation), Luis Pérez de “Colombia Piensa en Grande(Colombia Think Big), and Ingrid Betancourt of Partido Verde Oxygeno (Oxygen Green Party).
The Colombian constitution stipulates that a candidate must obtain at least 50% plus one of the votes to win the election. If no candidate achieves this threshold on election day, a runoff between the two most voted candidates will take place on Sunday, June 19.
According to the latest polls, the left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro is currently in the lead with a voting intention of 43%, followed by the conservative candidate Federico Gutiérrez with 27.7%. As no candidate is expected to obtain more than 50% in the first round, a second round between these two candidates is practically confirmed.
Federico “Fico” Gutiérrez, the conservative candidate, was mayor of the city of Medellín from 2016 to 2019, where he received approval ratings of up to 96%. Medellín is a historically troubled city — once home to Pablo Escobar’s cartel — that has seen a renaissance tied to conservative leadership and a high profile in Latin American pop culture.
Gutiérrez’s candidacy received the support of former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez (2002-2010) – still the country’s most prominent conservative politician more than a decade after leaving the presidency – after Óscar Iván Zuluaga, the candidate from Uribe’s party Democratic Center (Democratic Center), withdrew his candidacy following the results of the March 2022 legislative elections in Colombia.
Uribe Vélez is a widely influential right-wing politician in Colombia and is considered a kingmaker for the presidencies of Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018) and Iván Duque (2018-2022). In 2015, Colombia approved a one-term limit for presidents, making Duque, who is also part of the Democratic Center, ineligible to run again. Santos served in Uribe’s administration but made dramatic political departures from the Democratic Center as president, including negotiating with communist terrorists.
Gustavo Petro, the leftist candidate, is a former M-19 guerrilla and former mayor of Bogotá, the Colombian capital. This is the third time that Petro has run for president. Petro ran in the previous presidential elections in 2018 and lost to Duque.
If elected, Petro would become Colombia’s first leftist president – Colombia is an unprecedented case in Latin America of a country that has never been ruled by a leftist president.
Petro has had his share of controversies in the past, saying he would vote for Joe Biden ‘without a doubt’, accusing a Colombian news channel of being ‘neo-Nazis’ and making political speeches while visibly drunk.
Petro did not hesitate to express his support for the Cuban communist regime and Venezuela’s “Supreme and Eternal Commander of the Revolution”, Hugo Chávez.
In Cuba, like in Colombia, the Dialogo social is imposed. Las sociedades vivas son las que se mueven y logran las transformations a.parr de su diálogo y no de su autodestructción.
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) July 12, 2021
“In Cuba, as in Colombia, social dialogue is essential. Living societies are those that move and achieve transformations from their dialogue and not from their self-destruction,” Petro said in a tweet during the days of the 2021 protests against the communist regime in Cuba.
Viviste en los tiempos de Chavez y quizás pensaste que era un payaso. I engañaste you. Viviste los tiempos of a great Latin American leader
— Gustavo Petro (@petrogustavo) March 5, 2013
“You lived in Chávez’s time and maybe you thought he was a clown. You are wrong. You lived the time of a great Latin American leader,” read a tweet posted by Petro on the day Chávez died.
As is the case with most left-wing politicians around the world, Petro has attempted to distance himself from socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro and the perceived radioactivity that the calamities inflicted on Venezuela by his socialist regime inflict on left-wing political movements that were once sympathetic to the Bolivarian cause.
After Maduro accused Petro and other left-wing politicians in the region of being part of a “loose left”, Petro responded with a tweet saying, “I suggest Maduro stop his insults. Cowards are those who do not embrace democracy. Take Venezuela out of oil, bring it to the deepest democracy, if you have to withdraw, do it.
Despite the perceived distance between Petro and Maduro, possible links between Petro and the Bolivarian Revolution are being investigated. Hugo Carvajal, a former member of Venezuela’s socialist regime and currently detained in Spain, said he has evidence that Petro is among those who directly received funding from Venezuela’s socialist regime.
While Carvajal refused to testify against Petro, his attorney said Carvajal did in fact have evidence against Petro but required prior guarantees for his possible extradition to the United States.
Colombian senator Piedad Córdoba – who has had close ties to Hugo Chávez, to the point of being accused of having more influence than Nicolás Maduro himself – is among those in the presidential campaign coalition of Petro. Petro has asked Córdoba to suspend all campaign activities following accusations against her, including entering into corrupt business deals with Alex Saab, a key ally of the Maduro regime currently detained in the United States and accused of money laundering. silver.
One of Córdoba’s advisers says it was Petro himself, not his former campaign manager, who had close ties to the Venezuelan regime.
For more than 50 years, Colombian citizens have had to face continuous terrorist threats from the Marxist groups of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) (the latter, which the Biden administration recently stripped of their terrorist tag), whose activities include, but are not limited to, mass murder, rape, kidnapping, use of child soldiers, and drug trafficking. Colombia has also seen an intense wave of left-wing riots and national strikes in 2021 following President Duque’s unpopular tax proposal.
In February 2022, President Duque had a 73% disapproval rating.
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.