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Colombians choosing between leftist, business magnate in tight vote -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – A banner featuring the image Rodolfo Hernandez, the centre-right candidate for the Colombian presidency is shown in this photograph taken the day before the second round. This was made in Lebrija (Colombia), June 18, 2022. REUTERS/Santiago Arcos


Nelson Bocanegra, Oliver Griffin

BOGOTA/BUCARAMANGA – Colombians voted Sunday in a presidential election. The choice was between a leftist ex-guerrilla leader who advocates for social change, and an eccentric construction magnate who promises to fight corruption.

Technically, the candidates Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Sanchez, both once members of M-19 rebels but now technically tied.

Petro, who was once mayor of Bogota’s capital, is currently a senator and has promised to end inequality through free university education, pension reforms, high taxes and unproductive land.

Although his proposals, especially the ban on oil project development, have shocked some investors – he promised to honor existing contracts.

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Petro posted on Twitter: “We are just one step away from realizing that change we have been waiting for our entire lives.” There are no uncertainties, but only certainty. History is our future.”

Petro will be running his third presidential campaign.

Petro (62 years old) claimed that he was subject to torture by the military while he was being held for his participation with the guerrillas. His potential victory has made high-ranking officials in the Armed Forces brace for change.

Pedro Vargas (48), a security guard in Bogota’s Southwest, said, “Today, I’m voting to vote for my daughter. She turned 15 just two weeks ago.

Vargas added that “I hope this man fulfils the hopes for my daughter. She has a lot faith in his promised,” and that Vargas never votes.

Bogota’s voters were complaining of long lines at polling locations.

Hernandez was the Bucaramanga mayor and was an unexpected contender in this run-off. He has pledged to reduce government size and finance social programs through corruption prevention.

To combat the drug trade, he also promised to give addicts free drugs.

Hernandez faces a corruption probe despite his anti-graft rhetoric. He is being investigated over claims that he tried to influence a bid for trash management in order to favor a son’s company. His wrongdoing has been denied.

Hernandez, like Petro has pledged that he would fully implement a 2016 ceasefire with FARC rebels as well as seek negotiations with the active ELN guerrillas despite accusing them of kidnapping his daughter Juliana and her murder in 2004.

The ELN denies any involvement in her death and has yet to find her body.

The election is easy. “Vote for someone controlled by the same people that always voted for or vote for me who’s not controlled by anybody,” the 77 year-old said. She has abandoned traditional campaigning and instead posted whimsical videos on social media.

Jose Mesa (43), a Bucaramanga farmer, stated that he hadn’t voted but supported Hernandez.

Mesa stated, “He is the kind of person this country requires.” We like the fact that he speaks directly.

Hernandez promised to respect the results. Petro, however, raised concerns about the integrity and legitimacy of the electoral process.

Due to threats to their safety, both men cancelled campaign events.

Colombia’s first Black female vice-president will be inaugurated by the winner. Petro’s running mate Francia Martquez, Hernandez’s second-in-command Marelen Castillo and Petro are both Afro-Colombian.

Colombian police stated this week that they have been placed on high alert following the detection of plans to use violence to disrupt voting.

There are 39 million eligible Colombians to vote.

The first round attracted just 55%, and it took place during a holiday weekend.