Colombians head to the polls for the primary spherical of presidential voting

Colombians vote Sunday within the first spherical of the presidential election, with a leftist poised to win for the primary time within the nation’s turbulent historical past.

The elections are happening in a tense ambiance, after a yr of a brutal safety crackdown on avenue protests fueled by deepening social and financial issues. Polls present many Colombians pinning their hopes on Gustavo Petro, a former combatant and former mayor of Bogotá, to sort out poverty, rural violence, city crime and endemic corruption.

Petro, 62, hopes to keep away from a June 19 run-off towards 47-year-old Federico Gutierrez, a former mayor of Medellin who represents a coalition of right-wing events. Greater than 50 % of the primary spherical votes.

About 300,000 police and armed troopers will preserve peace in 12,000 polling stations throughout the nation underneath the watchful eye of observers from the Group of American States and the European Union. Lower than 39 million of Colombia’s 50 million residents are eligible to vote between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (1300-2100 GMT), though the current abstention charge was practically 50 % excessive. “I do not vote as a result of criminals all the time win,” avenue vendor Andrea Perez, 30, instructed AFP.

Colombia wants change, Ivan Duque – who beat Petro within the 2018 election run-off – leaves with report numbers of disapproval. Colombian presidents serve just one four-year time period, about 40 % of Colombians at this time stay in poverty, and the nation has one of many highest ranges of earnings inequality on the planet, in response to the World Financial institution.

The economic system has been hit onerous by the coronavirus pandemic, one in six city residents is out of labor, and the Duque authorities’s picture has not been affected by its worldwide response to weeks of anti-poverty protests final yr that noticed dozens of civilians killed.

“Colombia wants to alter,” workplace employee Petrona Guzman, 43, instructed AFP on the eve of the vote, the place she is going to make her mark in Petro’s favour. . The overwhelming majority of individuals are misplaced.”

Petro has promised to sort out poverty and make the Colombian economic system greener, partially by phasing out crude oil drilling, and Gutierrez’s focus has been on the “robust state” response to crime on the planet’s largest cocaine producer.

The principle voter concern is the outbreak of rural violence, regardless of the 2016 peace deal formally ending practically six many years of civil strife. Different armed teams with civilians within the crossfire.

Petro, a former member of the city insurgent group M-19 who laid down arms in 1990, vowed to proceed peace talks with the final remaining guerrilla group, the Nationwide Liberation Military, which had been suspended underneath Duque. Residents complain of excessive charges of theft, blaming it largely on the inflow of practically two million migrants from neighboring Venezuela.

On Friday, Petro instructed voters the nation had a option to “both hold issues as they’re in Colombia, or change”, forsaking “corruption, violence and starvation”. In the identical televised debate, Gutierrez agreed that change was wanted “however that change should occur safely…with out jeopardizing households, properties…jobs.”

In a rustic with a deep-rooted worry of the political left — linked to guerrilla teams which have sowed many years of distress — the backlash towards Petro has been fierce, with opponents looking for to painting him as a Hugo Chávez-style extremist populist. “He (Petro) may be very near communism,” businessman Freddy Montoya, 42, who plans to vote for anti-corruption candidate Rodolfo Hernandez, 77, instructed AFP.

Three different candidates, every a single-digit supporter in response to the polls, full the image. The marketing campaign has been marred by suspicions of fraud after counting irregularities had been reported in an preliminary spherical of voting in March, and Petro on Friday raised new issues concerning the software program being utilized by Colombia’s vote counting authority.

Each Petro and Gutierrez acquired loss of life threats, as did left-wing Vice President Francia Marquez, who might develop into the primary black lady Vice President of Colombia. 5 presidential candidates had been assassinated by opponents, drug sellers, or paramilitary teams in Colombia within the twentieth century.

(AFP)

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