Colombian left kicks off race for the presidency

Bogotá, Mar 14 (EFE).- The race for the Colombian presidency got off to a firm start on Monday, a day after the legislative elections and presidential primaries in which the left, led by Gustavo Petro, dominated, while the right seeks to recompose its forces around of the candidacy of Federico “Fico” Gutiérrez.

The first consequence of Sunday’s elections was the resignation of Óscar Iván Zuluaga, presidential candidate for the Democratic Center, a party founded by former president Álvaro Uribe.

Zuluaga, who was finance minister and candidate for the presidency in the 2014 elections, shared a statement on social media in which he announced his move.

“I have made the personal decision to accompany the aspiration of [Federico Gutiérrez],” said the 63-year-old politician.

Gutiérrez, who won the nomination of the right-wing coalition Equipo por Colombia with 2,160,329 votes (54.18 percent), has been considered since the beginning of the campaigns as the candidate of Uribismo.

Resigning his presidential aspirations, Zuluaga said that his support for Gutiérrez was made “without political or bureaucratic calculations, without expecting anything in return” and always seeking the best for the country because “only united can we preserve democracy and freedom.”

Gutiérrez called for unity to carry out his project to defeat the leftist Petro, favorite to win the presidency, according to recent polls.

“Once countries lose democracies, democracies don’t come back that easily,” he said, recalling Venezuela and Nicaragua.

In this endeavor to defeat Petro, Gutiérrez on Monday received the support of David Barguil of the Conservative Party, who declared himself “one more soldier in the fight for our freedoms and democracy.”

Petro – who in light of the results of the polls and the votes for the Senate and the Chamber was the big winner – began to speak not only of winning the presidency, but of seeking alliances of “progressive majorities.”

“Winning the presidency has completely opened up the possibility of configuring a coalition of progressive majorities in Congress. Reforms are possible now. And the stability of the progressive government is highly possible,” said the former mayor of Bogotá and ex-member of the demobilized guerrilla group M-19.

The main candidates are Petro, Gutiérrez and Sergio Fajardo, winner of the Hope Center Coalition’s nomination.

In addition, Íngrid Betancourt (Oxígeno Verde), the populist Rodolfo Hernández, the former governor of Antioquia Luis Pérez (Colombia Piensa en Grande) and the former minister Luis Gilberto Murillo (Colombia Renaciente) are also in the race.

In the center, Fajardo becomes an unknown because, although it is true that he triumphed in his coalition, the 723,000 votes that he obtained do not give him reason to think that he is a decisive force and even less to be the successor of President Iván Duque.

Fajardo presents himself as the only one capable of uniting the country and making the changes that are needed, and criticized Zuluaga’s departure which, in his opinion, confirms that the Uribe candidate is Gutiérrez.

“Today it has been corroborated with the resignation of Oscar Iván Zuluaga that Federico Gutiérrez is the candidate of Uribismo, of Duque. He is continuity and that is precisely one of the forces that cannot continue in our country,” he said.

To reverse this situation, Fajardo said that he will seek the votes of nearly 8 million people who did not participate in Sunday’s elections. EFE


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