Colombia’s Presidental Election is close at hand. With voting underway, there are rising tensions as to the outcome. Many are hoping their country doesn’t take a turn for the worst like their neighbor, Venezuela. Due to shortages of food, abuse of human rights, and hyperinflation, there has been a mass influx of Venezuelan immigrants flocking towards Colombia.
Seeing the situation in Venezuela as a warning, Colombians know they need to tread carefully as upheaval could happen to anyone. Only one year ago was peace made between the Colombian government and FARC. The government and guerrilla group have had a conflict with one another for the past five decades. Depending on who wins, this danger could be back yet again.
According to polls, Iván Duque, former senator, and handpicked successor of the Alvaro Uribe, former president, is in the lead.
Right behind him, former senator and mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro as the standard of leftwing Colombia. Following him are Sergio Fajardo and Germán Vargas Lleras.
With over fifty percent of the vote, Duque could claim the presidency for his own. If the outcome is uncertain, the top two candidates will meet for a run-off June 17.
However, the first trial is who will be that second place.
Tensions Rise in Colombia as Candidates for the Presidency Fight for Second Place
Although he’s all the way in fourth place, as of May 19, Vargas Lleras has the support of the party currently in place. There’s the possibility of a staged upset, causing him to make it to the run-off.
To make sure he has a place in the run-off, he’s been politically attacking Petro’s lead by comparing him to the president of Venezuela. The comparison to Nicolás Maduro is an unfair one, but it could prove useful.
For now, the polls show Petro in the lead for second place with support from nearly one-third of the population. However, when asked, 37 percent of the voters named him the candidate they would never vote for, a number higher than any other candidate.
One Colombian say the elite political leaders are using Venezuela as a metaphorical monster to undermine the former mayor. Both Duque and his mentor, Uribe have been compared to both Castro and Chavista, the leaders of Cuba and Venezuela respectively.
It also seems likely now that Colombia is ready for a leftist leader. Some say it is unlikely they’ll let Duque become president.
Political scientist Sandra Borda, says the attacks against Petro have played to the deepest fears of Colombians. This traditionally conservative country fears their possible devolution into a failed socialist state.
Even though Petro is more left-minded than the other candidates, his ideals aren’t anything like that of Venezuela’ socialism.