Conservative wins Colombia’s run-off election for president

Vowing a “new generation” of leadership, Ivan Duque emerged from the second round of Colombia’s presidential election on Sunday with 54 percent of the vote to defeat former leftist M-19 guerrilla Gustavo Petro.

“No more divisions!  This election is an opportunity to go past polarization; I do not hate any Colombian.  What we most want is for Colombia united to completely smash corruption across all the territories.  We are going to return to our population the hope and ability to believe in our institutions. We will be the government that like never before in our country will confront this cancer,” Duque said following his election victory.

A virtual novice in the political domain, Duque’s election is the result of a run-off in which he earned 39 percent in the first-round election held on May 27.

A pro-business conservative and economist who received a Master’s degree in Public Policy Management from Georgetown University, Duque ran on a platform of economic viability through reducing corporate and individual taxes and welcoming foreign investment.

Duque is a vocal proponent of opening up Colombia’s vital mining and petroleum sectors to foreign firms.

Duque also ran as a staunch opponent of a controversial peace agreement negotiated by outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels in 2016.

Under the terms of the peace deal, which ended decades of civil strife, FARC guerrillas eluded prosecution for crimes and were guaranteed the right to stand for elections.

Duque has guaranteed to modify the agreement struck with the rebel group, promising to impose punishments on FARC rebels for crimes committed during the five-decade civil war.

A native of Bogota, Duque, 41, worked for a decade with Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C., before returning to become a senator in the Congress of Colombia.  Duque held the strong backing of former Colombian president, Álvaro Uribe.

In addition to becoming Colombia’s youngest president, in another historic first, Mr. Duque’s running mate, Martha Lucia Ramirez, will serve as Colombia’s first female vice-president.

Scheduled to assume office on August 7, Duque faces a sluggish economy, the plague of narcotics trafficking and a massive influx of immigrants fleeing uncertainty in neighboring Venezuela.


[The City Paper Bogotá] [The Telegraph] [Photo courtesy MNews World]