Slow Delivery in Colombia
21 June 2018
The result of the second round in the presidential elections in Colombia sentenced the victory of the rightist candidate Iván Duque, who obtained 10.362.080 votes against the 8.028.033 of his rival Gustavo Petro, the candidate of the Colombia Humana coalition. Challenged as never before, the forces of the old Colombian social order joined, prevailing by some twelve percentage points. The Uribe follower obtained 54 percent of the votes while the former mayor of Bogotá ended with 42 percent. The voters’ participation rate slightly exceeded 51 percent, a promissory fact given the persistent absenteeism in a country where voting is not compulsory.
The title of this note truly reflects what is happening in Colombia. The one significant aspect of this election is that for the first time the right failed to have its traditional two-party system masked under different formulas and figures that in the end represented the interests of the dominant establishment. The emergence of a center-leftist candidate like Gustavo Petro is an authentic and promissory divide in Colombian history, and it would not be daring to say that it marks the beginning of the end of a period. A slow and difficult delivery, painful like few, but whose result sooner than later will be the construction of a new political hegemony to displace the forces that exerted their dominion in that country for two centuries. Never before had an oppositional force emerged with such substance, which places it very favorably with a view to the upcoming regional elections in October, 2019 when Colombia Humana might recover the mayoralty of Bogotá and conquer that of Cali, as well as prepare its cadres and militants for the presidential elections in 2022.
In the meantime Iván Duque will have to wage a tremendous battle to fulfill what he promised his boss, Álvaro Uribe: to make advances in the judicial power, put an end to the transitional justice designed in the Peace Agreements and particularly, prevent the former president (true power behind the throne) from ending in jail due to the numerous denounces against him for his responsibility in crimes against humanity, among them those of the “false positives”, and his proven links with drug traffic.
In short: something new has started to develop in Colombia. The process is still underway, but the signs are encouraging. Three months ago no one in that country dreamed that a center-leftist force with a former guerrilla fighter as presidential candidate would obtain over eight million votes. It happened and nothing leads to think that the cheating two-party rightist system will be able to resuscitate after this disaster, or that the euphoria of millions of Colombian militants who have produced the most important political innovation since the assassination of Jorge Eliecer Gaitán in 1948 will dissolve and everything will be as before. No. We are sure that there will be no reverse in Colombia. Sometimes defeats anticipate future victories, such as the one endured by Salvador Allende in Chile in the 1964 election or Lula’s in Brazil in 1998. Why discard the possibility of something similar in Colombia? Only those who walk stumble and the people of Colombia have set off. They stumbled but they will rise, and sooner than later they will give birth to a new country.