On Sunday 29 May, Colombia held presidential elections where—for the first time in history—a progressive coalition called the Historic Pact obtained the largest number of votes. Gustavo Petro, the candidate of the Historical Pact, began his political activism by taking up arms and joining the M19 guerrilla group in the late 1970s. After his demobilization, he was elected to several public office positions serving as a senator and later as mayor of Bogotá. The vice-presidential candidate of the Historic Pact, Francia Marquez, is an Afro-Colombian woman who grew up in the midst of poverty and the violence of war. From a very young age, she assumed leadership to defend the rights of her community and the environment.
Second place in the elections went to Rodolfo Hernandez, a millionaire businessman who uses populist, xenophobic, sexist and homophobic language and says he is tired of traditional politics and corruption. He is currently accused of corruption by the National Prosecutor’s Office. Several media outlets have compared him to Donald Trump.
The electoral system in Colombia stipulates that if no candidate gets 51% of the vote in the first round, the two candidates with the highest number of votes will go to a second round that is scheduled for 19 June.
The results have sent a clear message that Colombian society is tired of the traditional parties and powers that have ruled for decades. They want a change.
We thank God that election day took place in relative calm and we pray that over the next three weeks the campaign and voting process will take place in peace.