A Colombian town where the potential next president needs no campaign

By Laia Mataix Gómez

Piedecuesta, Colombia, June 18 (EFE).- Businessman Rodolfo Hernández may be one step away from becoming Colombia’s next president, much to the delight of the Piedecuesta town where he was born and where, ironically, there is hardly any political campaigning for him.

On Sunday, Colombia will elect President Ivan Duque’s successor in a close contest between former leftist guerrilla Gustavo Petro, and independent candidate Hernandez of the Anti-Corruption Rulers’ League party.

Hernández’s hometown lies in the Santander department, where he became a millionaire in the construction sector and began his political career, first as a town councilor and then as mayor of Bucaramanga, the regional capital.

In the first round, Hernández secured almost 74 percent of the votes in Piedecuesta compared to 17.3 percent by Petro.

While his face is visible all over cars, fences, and buildings in Bucaramanga, it is surprisingly absent in Piedecuesta, apart from some slogans of support on the fence at the entrance of the town.

The majority of the population is clear about their voting choice.

A few hours before the runoff on Sunday, there is hardly any activity at his only campaign office that has a few posters saying “HP: Piedecuesta’s son.”

“Ninenty percent of Piedecuesta supports him, and not only here, but also in Bucaramanga,” a supporter told EFE.

Although Hernandez lives in Bucaramanga, he spends a lot of time on his farm in Piedecuesta, where he has sought refuge during the election campaign.

A 60-square-meter building with solar panels, a sewage treatment plant, and propane gas stands in Piedecuesta’s plaza.

It is the prototype that the engineer has designed to build across the Colombian countryside if elected.

If Hernández becomes president, prefabricated houses will be built in the rural areas where the poorest peasants live.

They will pay 250,000 pesos a month for 20 years for the houses, priced at 60 million pesos, with an interest of 2 percent.

A dining room with an integrated kitchen, two bedrooms, a laundry room, and a bathroom make up the house. which is among his pet projects and campaign promises in his hometown. EFE


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