Colombians want change -- but what kind?
(May 31, 2022)
Colombia’s political landscape shifted radically with Sunday’s election, which defied many pollsters’ predictions of left-right polarization, and instead evinced a deep rejection of the political status quo. (See yesterday’s post.)
In order to win the June runoff vote, first-place winner Gustavo Petro, a leftist who positioned himself by railing against Colombia’s political establishment must now pivot his campaign, as his opponent, right-wing populist Rodolfo Hernández’s outsider credentials are much stronger than his. Petro now, to some eyes at least seems like the more conventional candidate — even if he still frightens much of the country’s conservative establishment. (Associated Press, Economist)
Petro must now convince voters he is “safe” change, compared Hernández, who has raised concerns about institutional stability by promising to declare a state of emergency to deal with corruption. “There are changes that are not changes,” Petro said on Sunday night, “they are suicides.”
Many analysts believe Petro reached his voter ceiling in Sunday’s first round, and will be hard pressed to beat Hernández, who was endorsed by third-place candidate Federico Gutiérrez. (New York Times)
Hernández, in the meantime, has ridden to prominence not on concrete proposals, but on a wave of indignation agains the political class, reports La Silla Vacía. His campaign is notable for lack of massive events, relying instead on Facebook live broadcasts.
The other powerful force bolstering Hernández is “fear of the left,” explains Theodore Kahn of Control Risks’ Global Risk Analysis in Americas Quarterly.
Colombia’s conservative establishment has lined up behind Hernández, more concerned about Colombia’s economic stability than its institutions.
While Hernández is generally described as right-wing, the description should be more nuanced, cautions James Bosworth at the Latin America Risk Report. “To the extent Hernández’s political views are known, they don’t fit the typical description of the political right on either social or economic issues.” In a Twitter thread last night, Hernández said he is in favor of abortion rights, supports marriage equality, opposes fracking, supports renewable energy investments, and wants to legalize drugs. He has said he wants additional government spending that would focus on reducing poverty in the country.
Both presidential candidates are seconded by female Afro-Colombian running-mates: award-winning activist Francia Márquez is running with Petro and Marelen Castillo, an academic, is Hernández’s running mate. (Axios)
The trial against Cuban dissident artists Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and Maykel Castillo started in Havana yesterday. They face years in jail in a judicial process human rights groups have labeled a “farce” and a “circus,” reports Reuters.
Agatha, the year’s first named storm in the eastern Pacific region, was moving across southern Mexico this morning as a tropical storm. Yesterday it made landfall in Oaxaca as a Category 2 hurricane, where it was strong enough to uproot trees, cause major power losses and rip roofs off well-built homes, reports the New York Times.
Weather forecasters predict a subnormal number of tropical storms this year in the eastern Pacific, whereas there is a 65% chance for an above-normal number of storms within the Atlantic basin. (Guardian)
Authorities in northeastern Brazil’s Pernambuco state said yesterday that 91 deaths have been confirmed from flooding over the weekend, with more two dozen people still missing. (Associated Press)
The bilateral meeting used to lure Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas next week raises the question of whether the Brazilian leader is the kind of democratic leader who should be given concessions in order to ensure attendance, writes Juan Gabriel Tokatlian in Diario.ar.
Peru's attorney general's office announced it was including President Pedro Castillo in an investigation into alleged crimes committed by a former cabinet minister and six opposition lawmakers, including influence peddling, collusion and "criminal organization." (Reuters)ç
Families of prison riot victims in Ecuador are pushing the government for reforms and to demand that the state be held accountable for decades of negligence, reports Al Jazeera.