Colombia’s dysfunctional campaign keeps Petro ahead


With less than four months to go until millions of Colombians go to the polls on May 29 for the 2022 presidential elections, left-progressive candidate Gustavo Petro has built up support during the campaign trail. With a message saying he would end oil and gas exploration on the day he took office (August 7), expropriate unproductive land, raise import duties on clothing, leather goods and agro-industrialists, the leader of the Colombia Humana party appears unstoppable on the campaign trial compared to his rivals.

While the former senator and mayor of Bogotá’s lead is impressive at 27%, he still hasn’t won on Election Day with 50% plus one vote.

The latest poll by Semana and CNE places the independents Rodolfo Hernández second (14%) and Ingrid Betancourt (7%), third. The hierarchy during this first stage of a campaign that focuses more on personality traits than on issues, shows the disarray of a coalition that may challenge Petro’s lead, but the candidates are more concerned about the struggle between them only through united action, even if it’s just that, playing.

The far right is navigating the political doldrums, after former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez’s party, Centro Democrático, named Óscar Iván Zuluaga as its candidate at a convention in November. Zuluaga was also the party’s candidate in the 2014 elections against incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos. The 62-year-old economist managed to reverse Santos’ lead in the electoral race, but lost with 45% of the vote to the U party leader’s 51%.

With Zuluaga trailing in the Semana poll at 4%, the Centro Democrático has turned into a political appendage, and whose immediate future will depend on forming an alliance with the independent Rodolfo Hernández and the triumvirate of Equipo Colombia Alex Char, Enrique Peñalosa and Federico Gutiérrez. However, Alex Char of the Colombian team shunned any rapprochement with the representative of the Uribe house built.

Although Zuluaga remains on the sidelines of a campaign in which Petro floods his Twitter feed with images of crowded outdoor plazas and himself dressed in each region’s traditional attire, including a woolly ruana during Sunday’s trip to Tunja, Boyacá, the 61-year-old former M-19 guerrilla operative, is also campaigning in Europe, where last Wednesday, February 2, he had a 45-minute Vatican audience with Pope Francis.

While details of the meeting are shrouded in secrecy, including an order from the Vatican not to take photos, one of Petro’s closest allies, Senator Gustavo Bolivar, released a photo of the candidate walking side by side. side with Pope Francis along a golden wall. corridor. The image was quickly discredited by French news agency AFP as a montage of a July 2019 visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Vatican.

The scandal sweeping social media under the name #PetroShop has not dented the candidate’s popularity, given that the goal of portraying Petro as a globe-trotting leader and devout Catholic has been achieved.

In a week in which Petro usurped Putin as the ‘man of the moment’, diplomatic relations between Colombia and Russia hit a low point after the embassy criticized the country’s defense minister , Diego Molano, for statements accusing Russia of “foreign intervention” along the border. Venezuelan border with Colombia. In the harshest terms, the Russian Embassy claims Molano “in his tireless search for fictitious enemies”, quoting, again, “intelligence data, without any verification”.

The statement reprimands Molano for “irresponsible statements by a senior government official”, in view of the “meeting between President Iván Duque and the heads of the diplomatic missions accredited on the same day, where the Colombian president spoke for the development of friendly relations. links to Bogotá.

In a dysfunctional campaign laden with disinformation, the main protagonist, so far, is fake news, and one that increasingly transcends the Colombian geopolitical landscape. With Coalición Centro Esperanza showing no hope of regaining ground and the far right being exiled from the political narrative, Petro remains confident that he will claim victory in the first round. And the way things are looking, he might be right, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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