Petro, Hernandez campaigns heat up ahead of Colombia presidential runoff

Bogota, Jun 11 (EFE).- A week ahead of the second and final round of Colombia’s presidential elections, the followers of candidates Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernandez took to the streets Saturday to show their support as the campaign comes to a close.

The rallies have not pulled in large crowds in an unusual campaign in which Hernandez has barely made public appearances and refused to participate in debates, while Petro has focused on small and low-profile events.

Feminist groups gathered in Bogota to call for a change led by Petro and his running mate, Afro-Colombian community leader Francia Marquez.

Despite bad weather, around 100 women gathered in the event in support of Marquez. A similar but smaller event also took place in Medellin.

Meanwhile, Hernandez supporters participated in car rallies across the country, with the largest taking place in the capital, as around 40 cars with yellow and blue balloons cut through the Bogota traffic.

Colombia is set to hold its presidential runoff on Jun. 19, with Petro, the candidate of the left-wing Pacto Historico (Historic Pact), pitted against Hernandez, the populist leader of the Liga de Gobernantes Anticorrupcion (League of Anti-Corruption Governors).

Some of the feminist demonstrators in Bogota spoke out against Hernandez, who has courted controversy over his statements about women.

“Down with Rodolfo, who wants women to stay in the house,” chanted the women, many of them wearing T-shirts or caps supporting the Petro-Marquez campaign.

The campaigners also carried placards and wore green and purple scarves, while shouting slogans asserting women’s role in the government and society.

The event, which included performances, was also joined by different collectives, such as mothers of victims of extra-judicial killings and women from the indigenous Embera community.

Meanwhile, supporters of Hernandez turned up with Colombian flags, music and political paraphernalia in support of the engineer, trying to win support from the undecided voters, who could play an important role in a tight contest, according to polls.

Two buses accompanied the car rally in the capital, amid slogans linked to the campaign such as “Rodolfo, my president!” and “No stealing, no lying, no betrayal, zero percent impunity!”

“Today we are here, all the supporters of the engineer have gathered to defend democracy, to show that Bogota wants change, it wants to fight the corrupt and make a radical change of government,” Hernandez supporter Rafael Carreno told EFE.

As per the latest polls, there is very small margin dividing the two candidates in terms of support, with Petro appearing to take a narrow lead.

As per a survey released by pollster Yanhaas on Saturday, Petro was backed by 45 percent of the respondents, compared to 35 percent support for Hernandez.

However, an earlier poll on Friday, carried out by Invamer, showed a virtual tie, with Hernandez leading with 48.2 percent support and Petro being backed by 47.2 percent of those surveyed. EFE


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