Much Divided Colombians in Coming Presidential Election

World Today

On Sunday, Colombians will go to the polls to elect a president during a critical time. But the election season has been hit by scandals in the campaigns of the two frontrunners. Are the scandals influencing the vote, or are there more important issues? CCTV’s Michelle Begue reports from Bogota, Colombia.

Cyber-espionage and drug money in campaigns — those are the stories that have made headlines in the lead-up to Colombia’s presidential elections. But for Colombians their concerns go far beyond the scandals.

Catherine Gomez, Colombian citizen said: “When I go through the process of choosing for who to vote for, I look for someone who gives security and peace.”

Paola Castanedo said: “This country has a lot of issues, like security, health, and the restructuring of the system.”

Gonzalo Borda told the reporter: “This image of fighting between the leading two candidates is degrading for all of us.”

In the final weeks ahead of the election, some have described the campaigning as dirty.

President Juan Manuel Santos’s campaign chief is accused of receiving $12 million U.S. dollars in exchange for negotiating the surrender of a drug lord. His top contender, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, has had his own share of problems. A video was released showing Zuluaga being briefed about government intelligence by a hacker that is now arrested and facing spying charges.

Jairo Libreros, Political Analyst, says: “Colombia has lived dirty wars but never so clearly defined and never with the perpetrators and victims so obviously outlined in a dirty war.”

Political Analysts say, beneath the scandal is a fight between Santos and Zuluaga’s mentor – former President Alvaro Uribe. Although Santos and Uribe were once allies, the President’s decision to break with Uribe’s policies once he was elected, brought on a public feud.

Now, Uribe leads the opposition to Santos’ peace talks in Havana with FARC rebels. While this may be a critical moment to end 50 years of armed conflict, some political analysts say it will not be the most important issue when citizens head to the polls.

Jairo Libreros also told the reporter: “The issue of the peace process by Juan Manuel Santos, does not have the political relevancy in this country as it does internationally. The real topic is “do I agree with the return of Alvaro Uribe’s policies.”

Polls show Colombians will be much divided this weekend and none of the candidates will receive the majority vote needed to avoid a runoff election on June 15th.

CCTV’s Aseih Namdar interviews Joseph Humire, Executive Director of the Center for a Secure Free Society, on Colombia’s presidential elections.

Joseph Humire on Colombia Elections

CCTV's Aseih Namdar interviews Joseph Humire, Executive Director of the Center for a Secure Free Society, on Colombia's presidential elections.