Presidential Hopefuls Duque, Petro Secure Last-Minute Endorsements as Divided Colombia Heads to Vote


With just two days left before the second round of voting in Colombia’s presidential elections, candidates Ivan Duque and Gustavo Petro continue to secure last-minute endorsements and pledges of support from various politicians and civil society organizations.

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Duque, former president Alvaro Uribe’s protege, continues to lead the polls although most polls suggest the gap between him and progressive candidate Petro has significantly narrowed with a recent survey showing he holds a slender five-point lead.

On Thursday, Duque received the support of the National Committee of Victims of the Guerrillas. John Pinchao, a spokesman for the group, said while he favored peace in Colombia, he and other group members weren´t willing to pay “any price.”

In his statement, Pinchao criticized the Peace Accords signed between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) saying the agreements guaranteed impunity.

Several activists and groups associated with the victims of the armed conflict have also endorsed Petro’s candidacy under the banner “there is no peace without social justice.”

“We will not vote for those who have sabotaged the peace process and for those who opposed victim representation in Congress,” Ana Teresa Bernal, a former advisor to multiple victim support groups, said.

Petro has also recently received the support of a group of retired military and police personnel who reiterated their commitment to peace and praised Petro’s proposal to professionalize state security forces.   

The two candidates have also received support from unions and business sectors.

Duque was endorsed by the National Union Council, which represents 21 business sectors. While the organization’s name suggests otherwise, its stated purpose is to “consolidate the position of the business sector.”

Petro, meanwhile, secured an endorsement from four of Colombia’s largest workers’ unions, including the union of workers in the petroleum industry, the Central Workers’ Unions, and the workers’ confederation.

A significant share of Colombia’s right-wing and centrist political parties have also pledged to support Duque, including the National Unity party, Radical Change, the Liberals, Conservatives, and the evangelical MIRA party.

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This support includes a pledge from former supporters of Sergio Fajardo, who got 4.5 million votes in the first round of elections on May 27 and is headed by Jorge Roncancio, who was a Congressional candidate for the Green Alliance Party, which called on its members to reject Duque in May.    

Petro has secured the support of the Democratic Alternative Pole, his former party, and of the majority of the Green Alliance, including senator and former vice presidential candidate for Fajardo’s ticket Claudia Lopez and senator-elect Antanas Mockus.

Although Liberal candidate Humberto De la Calle has refused to support Petro and has called his supporters to cast blank ballots, his vice presidential candidate Clara Lopez has endorsed Petro as the only candidate who can guarantee the peace process continues.  

The party that emerged from the demobilization of the FARC, the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, has said they would support “the candidate who has guaranteed the implementation and continuation of the (peace) accords signed in Havana.”

Duque has recently received the uncomfortable support of John Jairo Velazquez, alias Popeye, who was the leader of drug lord Pablo Escobar’s hitmen. Velazquez hasn’t only supported Duque’s candidacy but has also issued a threat to Petro’s supporters. 

[email protected]*#king Petristas… my gun will speak for me. When the pain and crying begin, do not cry, there will be no compassion,” he wrote on Twitter.

Duque also has another type of support, that of the Maquinaria, or the machinery, which refers to the pool of votes obtained through perks and local alliances.

Political scientist Fernando Posada told the BBC that the machinery is aligned with Duque because they are the core of Uribismo, Uribe supporters. “Almost all the members of the traditional political establishment is going with Duque. The great majority of caudillos (strong political men) or their families linked to para-politics or corruption support him,” Posada explained.    

This Sunday over 36.2 million citizens are expected to vote.


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