The Stream

Colombia: Will elections further divide the country?

On Thursday, June 16 at 19:30 GMT:
Colombians will head to the polls again on June 19, in what’s anticipated to be a close run-off presidential election between two anti-establishment candidates: leftist Gustavo Petro and conservative populist Rodolfo Hernandez. It’s a crucial time for the country, with growing numbers of Colombians facing poverty, extreme income inequality, and a resurgence in cartel-related violence.

The left has never won the presidency before in Colombia, a nation traditionally ruled by right-wing elites. The winner of this election will replace conservative president Ivan Duque, an unpopular leader who endured widespread protests against economic inequality last year.

Petro is a senator, a former mayor of Bogota, and a former member of the armed group M-19. He has vowed tax increases, expansion of social programmes, and a progressive climate policy that would end new oil exploration. His campaign promises have rattled the business class, and both Petro and his environmental activist running mate Francia Marquez have seen their share of assassination threats.

The surprise challenger to Petro is millionaire businessman and real estate tycoon Rodolfo Hernandez. Just in the past few weeks, social media has helped propel the popularity of the independent candidate. Hernandez, described as “Colombia’s Trump”, is running as a pro-business, anti-establishment candidate with an anti-corruption agenda.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll discuss what’s at stake in Colombia’s upcoming vote. Join the conversation.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Laura Gamboa, @l_gamboag
Assistant professor, University of Utah

Silvana Amaya, @silvanaamayaa
Political risk analyst, Global Risk Analysis

Elizabeth Dickinson, @dickinsonbeth
Senior analyst, Crisis Group