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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Colombian elections: between the right of Fico and the left of Petro and Marquez

elections in Colombia
Photo: Heriberto Paredes. Global Exchange - Peninsula 360 Press

Next Sunday, May 29, elections will be held in Colombia, Colombians will go out to vote to elect president and vice-president for a four-year term.

Although there will be eight options on the ballot, polls show that the real fight will be between the right-wing alternatives, represented by Equipo por Colombia, with Federico "Fico" Gutiérrez for president and Rodrigo Lara for vice-president, and Pacto Histórico, with Gustavo Petro for president and Francia Márquez as vice-presidential candidate.

According to a report in the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio, Gustavo Petro, the former mayor of Bogota and center-left candidate, is leading in the polls. Poll for the Presidential Elections in Colombia: who wins the intention to vote? | ANSWERS | EL COMERCIO PERU with 40%, while Federico Gutiérrez would have an intention of 21 percent.

Although Gustavo Petro enjoys the sympathy of a broad sector of the left since the time when he was mayor of Bogota (2012-2015) and there were attempts to suspend him from office on two occasions - the first time he was removed from office, although only for a month and then he was reinstated - the Francia Marquez factor is undoubtedly relevant in the results of the polls.

It is the first time in the history of Colombia, where 2.98 million people identify themselves as black, Afro-Colombian, Raizal or Palenquero, and 40% of the country's population lives in poverty, that a woman of African descent is so close to occupying the highest sphere of public power, although the racist epithets against the candidate by the most radical right-wing sector of the country have not been long in coming.

Born in the village of La Toma, Cauca, Márquez is an environmental leader and winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, which is like the "Nobel" prize for environmental activists. A single mother, she worked in gold mines and as a maid. She has made Eduardo Galeano's poem, "Por Los Nadie", her campaign slogan. She is also a feminist and it is known that she will bet on bringing the debate on the right to decide to Petro's agenda, if they win the elections. 

However, the right-wing option, headed by the former mayor of Medellín, Federico Gutiérrez, has been able to attract the sympathies of a segment of the population that fears that the Petro-Márquez formula will be too radical. When he was very young, Gustavo Petro belonged to the M-19 guerrilla group, and some politicians and right-wing media have tried to associate Francia Marquez with the National Liberation Army. These circumstances provoke terror in many Colombians, given the history of the country, ravaged by FARC violence from 1964 until 2016, when the guerrilla group signed the Peace Accords with the government of Juan Manuel Santos.

Now, with a discourse focused on "preserving democracy and freedoms", Fico Gutiérrez has been associated with former president Álvaro Uribe, who could face trial for procedural fraud and witness tampering, as well as with Iván Duque, the current president, who violently repressed the 2021 demonstrations.

In addition, after the Duque administration announced the extradition of Dairo Antonio Usuga, alias "Otoniel," to the United States, on May 5 the Gulf Clan declared a four-day armed strike that affected 11 municipalities. According to figures released by the authorities, the toll was six dead and 180 vehicles set on fire, although the digital media La Silla Vacía reports that there were 24 homicides. Duque government responds to armed strike late and with the same failed recipe.

It is worth mentioning that if neither candidate achieves 50% plus 1 of the votes in the May 29 election, a run-off election will be held on Sunday, June 19.

You may be interested in: Gustavo Petro, the leftist candidate who achieved the unthinkable in Colombia

Irma Gallo
Irma Gallo
She is a reporter and writer. In addition to Península 360 Press, he has collaborated with Letras Libres, Magazine of the University of Mexico, Lee Más Gandhi Magazine, Gatopardo, Este País Magazine, Sin Embargo, El Universal, Newsweek en Español. His most recent book is When the Sky Turns Orange. Being a woman in Mexico (UANL/VF Agencia Literaria, 2020).


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