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Home / World / Colombia fights for militant outflow with divisions over peace

Colombia fights for militant outflow with divisions over peace

BOGOTA, Colombia – Colombia's presidential election breaks down into two ideological contradictions when the conservative first place winner in Sunday's election took a hard line against the country's peace treaty, while his rival pledged to support the poor and excluded ,

Former Senator Ivan Duque won nearly 39 percent of the vote, missing the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a second round in three weeks. The former rebel Gustavo Petro received 25 percent support and displaced the former mayor of Medellín, Sergio Fajardo, who could become kingmaker after a surprise wave.

The power struggle between Duque and Petro could have far-reaching consequences for the peace agreement over five decades of armed conflict, leaving at least 250,000 dead, 60,000 missing and more than 7 million displaced.

Duque swears to modify the polarizing agreement with changes to ensure that drug trafficking is not an amnestied crime and that guerrilla leaders do not have reparations to the victims are excluded from political office. The signed agreement allows former rebels who fully admit their crimes to avoid any jail time and turn themselves into a political party.

"We do not want to break the match," Duque said in his victory speech. "What we want is peace in Colombia to be peace with justice."

The election has sparked fears on both the left and right, with the Duque critics warning that his presidency for Alvaro would be a constitutionally suspended third term, Uribe, the influential former president responsible for his campaign. Although Uribe was very popular with the Colombians in order to improve security and weaken illegal armed groups, he led severe human rights violations by the military.

Petro and his populist platform "Humane Colombia" have drawn comparisons between critics and the late Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez Petro once admired. Bogota's former mayor brought Chavez to Colombia in 1

994, shortly after the Venezuelan paratrooper was released from prison, where he was sent for a military coup.

Petro describes himself as the "strong opponent" of the current president of the neighboring country, Nicolas Maduro, but his early ties with Chavez have haunted him throughout the election campaign. His campaign likened the comparisons with scare tactics of a traditional political class to no longer able to vote based on their tough stance against left-wing rebels.

The Firebrand contender supports the peace agreement and has angered young voters with deep-seated corruption and income inequality. Colombia has one of the highest income inequalities in the region and second only to Haiti after a study. Petro has proposed ending Colombia's dependence on oil exports and raising taxes on large areas of unproductive land to boost agricultural production and bring millions out of poverty.

Critics have warned his rise could dangerously push Colombia to the left and markets in traditional markets shake conservative land

In a speech to hundreds of supporters, Petro said on Sunday evening, fears that he might turn Colombia into an authoritarian state , in which wealth is redistributed, are unfounded. He said his proposals instead meant "democratization" of opportunities, so that more Colombians could benefit from education and join the middle class.

"The almost 5 million votes we have received today are the voices of the youth, of the excluded sectors far and wide in Colombia, who have decided to blurt in and say:" We are present, "he said to cheers and Applause.

Supporters waved flags adorned with the Soviet Union's hammer and sickle and the logo of the disbanded M-19 rebel group to which Petro belonged in his youth.

Edilia Pinzon, 55, was among those who Petro

"We're making history," said Pinzon, a street vendor, "The others who came to power did not live up to their promises, especially those of us with few resources."

More than 19 Millions of voters voted in the polls, the highest voter turnout for two decades.

The results particularly hard for Fajardo, who for weeks unsuccessfully tried to ally with the like-minded centrist Humberto de la Calle en, whose 2% vote draw would be sufficient to push Fajardo past Petro.

Fajardo gave the defeat, but showed no sign of who he will support in a runoff where his 4.5 million supporters are likely to be crucial.

"This is the worst possible scenario," said Monica Mendez, a chemical engineer who voted for Fajardo and said she was depressed.

Mendez said she is considering casting an empty vote in the next round and condemning Petro as a selfish leader who hears no opinions other than his own and Duque merely stating his mentor Uribe. to her person, who is arrogant and power-hungry. "

Petro and Duque differ in almost every critical issue facing Colombia: Duque prefers violent eradication of coca harvests that explode at record levels, while Petro prefers substitution." Historically close relations between the US and Colombia would likely remain unchanged under a Duque presidency, while Petro was called US aid to Colombia "help that has brought nothing."

In a victory speech to supporters little changed from his regular election campaign stunt, Duque emphasized law and order issues But he also seemed to be making some moves towards moderate voters and said he wanted to be the president "who unites our country and does not rule with a rear-view mirror."

Ramiro Bejarano, a Columnist of the daily El Espectador, said both candidates he has no choice but in the p to look for voices in the center of the city.

But he sees Duke's rather divisive discourse focused on tricky issues like abortion and gay rights and his criticism of the peace process a tougher sale to the mass of independent voters who favored Fajardo.

Nevertheless, he said that Duque's 14-point advantage for Petro will be difficult to overcome, whose main challenge is to convince voters that he will not turn Colombia into another Venezuela.

"If he can overcome the fear factor he can gain," Bejarano said.

De la Calle, the government's chief negotiator with the FARC, without expressly supporting Petro, made a passionate plea to not back down the implementation of the peace agreement when a future free of armed conflict is within reach.

"The war has brought us together in eight years," he said. "And now peace separates us."


Associated Press author Cesar Garcia contributed to this report from Bogota.

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