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Brief comments on the presidential runoff in Colombia: why did Ivan Duque win?

Commentary on the second round in Colombia

by Israel Dutra

The Colombians chose, in the second round, their future president. The latest polls were confirmed by the polls. With the lowest abstention rate of the last decades (47%), the conservative candidate Ivan Duque was the winner, obtaining more than 10.3 million votes (54%) against some 8 million votes (42%) of his opponent Gustavo Petro (Progressive Movement). For purposes of analysis, I indicate the article that I wrote when the result of the first round was scrutinized: Petro en la segunda volta: una batalla inedita para la izquierda colombiana.

In the last fifteen days, the tendency to “play dirty” by the big bourgeoisie, the press and the command of the state apparatus deepened. In a realm of “fake news”, the objective was to prevent any growth of Petro on the basis of two arguments: media terrorism over the alleged crimes of the guerrillas and extract electoral dividends from the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, associating Gustavo Petro with the regime of Caracas.

Despite the bombing of slanders, the Petro campaign galvanized important progressive sectors, winning important support from Green Alliance politicians such as Clara Lopez (who was a candidate for vice president in the formula of the third placed, Sergio Fajardo) and the popular Antanas Mockus. Another key support was from the leader of human rights and ex hostage of the FARC, Ingrid Betancourt. The political front for rights, for the change in the economic matrix and for a participatory and inclusive peace process gained positions in the battle of the hegemony of Colombian society.

The victory of Duque can not distort the historical advance of a left, even moderate, capable of causing an expansion of the debate between the social and political. Colombia transformed into an enclave of the DEA, South American aircraft carrier of the United States is in the process of being questioned. A new conservative government will be forced to implement a plan of war against the people, resonating a greater polarization. New social struggles are coming. If not today, tomorrow. If not today, tomorrow. Times are changing. In every continent.

What explains the victory of Duque and the defeat of Petro?

by Pedro Fuentes

As previously noted by the article written by Israel Dutra (Petro en la segunda vuelta: una batalla inédita para la izquierda colombiana), an election transcends the frameworks of traditional parties for the first time in Colombian history. The candidate of the Uribist right, Iván Duque, faced Gustavo Petro, a candidate aligned with the new wave of political processes that is taking place in Latin America, such as the Frente Amplio of Chile or the MNP of Peru.

The defeat of Gustavo Petro can be explained by the fact that the middle class – which in the first round followed Sergio Fajardo (center) and Humberto de la Calle (Partido Liberal) – gave a certain twist and tipped the pendulum to Duque. Despite making 65% more votes than the first round, Petro was 2.3 million away from the new Colombian president.

The decision of most of the Colombian middle class to support Duque has much to do with Venezuela. The country of Nicolás Maduro (PSUV) is in a serious crisis and under a Bonapartist regime. Unlike the governments of Hugo Chávez, his model no longer inspires confidence in the masses. The proximity between Venezuela and Colombia is remarkable not only geographically but also politically. Nearly 600,000 Venezuelans reside today in Colombia, a migratory phenomenon caused largely by the humanitarian crisis that Venezuela has gone through in recent years. In this context, while Duque adopts a hardening speech against Venezuela, Petro defended the opening of a line of dialogue with his neighbors. This proposal, distorted by the mainstream media, scared the middle class.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that it is always extremely unlikely that the left will defeat the force of the State apparatus. In these circumstances, you can only win from the right when there is a huge mass mobilization. Unfortunately, it was not the case of the Colombian elections of 2018. The right triumphs again in Colombia, but it will hardly have the capacity to stop the anti-neoliberal process that is taking place in other countries of the continent. Now, the next challenge is Mexico (read more about the Mexican elections in: POR UN FRENTE SOCIAL Y POLÍTICO PARA DETENER EL CONTRATAQUE DE LA OLIGARQUÍA NEOLIBERAL Y LA DERECHA

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