[Marxism] First round of Colombian presidential elections

Anthony Boynton anthony.boynton at gmail.com
Mon May 28 12:41:21 MDT 2018

*Note on Colombia*

The first round of Colombia’s presidential elections ended more or less as
expected with Ivan Duque, the Uribista hand-puppet coming in first, Gustavo
Petro, the left candidate, coming in second, and Sergio Fajardo the
sort-of-left-if-you-squint candidate coming in third. Here are the total

Iván Duque: 7,569,693 (39.14%)

Gustavo Petro:

4,851,254 (25.08%)

Sergio Fajardo


Germán Vargas Lleras

1,407,840 (7.28%)

Humberto De La Calle

399,180 (2.06%)

Jorge Antonio Trujillo

75,614 (0.39%)

Blank votes: 60,312 (0.31%)

For list readers, it is important to understand that the “old” Polo
Democratico Alerternativo” (Polo) shattered into its constituent parts over
the last five years. The fragment derived from M-19 is now called Colombia
Humana and is led by Petro. The ex-Maoist fragment led by Senator Jorge
Robledo continues under the name Polo Democratico Alternativo and supported
Sergio Fajardo for president this time. Fajardo’s election vehicle is
called Coaltion Colombia and his Vice presidential candidate was Senator
Claudia Lopez, the most visible leader of the remnants of the Green Party.
Clara López Obregón, the 2014 presidential candidate of the Polo and public
face of the old Polo Faction supported by the Communist Party, was this
year’s Vice Presidential candidate of the Liberal Party (Presidential
candidate Humberto de la Calle).

Another thing worth noting is that the FARC withdrew from the elections
after its candidate was pelted with eggs and threatened, after a number of
left activists were killed or intimidated and just before a FARC leader was
arrested on a DEA warrant. However, the FARC was polling less than 1%
before it withdrew its candidate.

Here are some other details worth knowing:

Germán Vargas Lleras was Vice President in the administration of Juan
Manuel Santos now exiting, but he never publicly supported the peace
process or participated in it. One year ago he was expected to easily win
this election. He had the political machines of his own party, Cambio
Radical, and Santos’ party the Partido de la U behind him.

If you want to count votes based on candidates’ attitudes to the peace
agreement with the FARC you would put all of the opponents of the deal in  the
Duque column, the wafflers in the Vargas Lleras column, and the supporters
of the deal in the Petro, Fajardo, and De La Calle column. Add them up and
you get 39.14% against the deal, 7.28 % waffling, and 51.56% for the deal
(4% go for something else totally indiscernible).

This boils down to a very strong extreme right, a weak left (forget talking
about any extremes, more on this latter), and a divided “peace camp”.
Nevertheless, the extreme right is losing electoral strength rather than
gaining it if you remember how it won the referendum that rejected the
peace deal a few years ago.

Duque is very likely to win in the second round of voting on June 17, but
Petro is still not out of the game. The big question is “What will the
people who voted for Fajardo and de la Calle do in the second round?”

Also of interest are Fajardo and de la Calle themselves. Will they now
endorse Petro? Fajardo might, but given the evident animosity between Petro
and Robledo, and given Robedo’s own political history, he might not. De la
Calle is almost certain not to, although Clara Lopez might.

The right has called Petro a Castroista-Chavista which is laughable for
anyone who knows much about Petro. He is a “small d” democrat more like a
French Radical of the 19th century combined with a 20th century
anti-extractionist politician. He is against the oil and mining industry
and wants to develop the country’s agriculture, industry and tourism based
on the peace agreement. In other words, if you listen to him he sounds a
lot more like Obama than Fidel.

In practice, Petro is a fighter and was temporarily tossed out of office as
Mayor of Bogotá for mixing it with the private garbage company (owned
mostly by a group of conservative party politicians led by the Pastrana
family) which he tried to remunicipalize and for closing down the local
bull-fighting ring dear to the hearts of blood thirsty oligarchs.

If Duque wins, as most people expect, he will have a hard time governing
because the Senate and Congress are even more fractured than the
presidential race indicates, but in a similar way. If Petro wins, he will
very quickly face a crisis with the legislature because the combined seats
held by all of the various Polo fragments plus the Green Party is a small
minority in both houses.

One other thing to keep in mind is that Colombia is an oil exporter, and
oil prices are up thanks mostly to Donald Trump’s sanctions against Iran.
As long as this reversal of the Obama era fracking oil glut years
continues, the Colombian government’s coffers will be full from Ecopetrol,
the state owned oil company.


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