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On Sunday, May 29, Colombia will hold what will probably be the first round of the riskiest presidential election for freedom and democracy in the 200 years of republican history of the South American nation. If none of the candidates reaches 50% plus one vote, the current electoral system contemplates a run-off between the two most voted, three weeks later, that is to say, on June 19.
According to the results of the most recent polls, everything seems to indicate that there will be a second round between Gustavo Petro, candidate of the extreme left, and Federico Gutiérrez, candidate of the center-right. In the polls, the engineer Rodolfo Hernández, a wealthy builder who has taken up the flag of anti-corruption populism, and the mathematician Sergio Fajardo, who, after doing politics for more than 20 years with the anti-politician discourse, sees his electoral relevance almost exhausted, also show significant voting intentions. The other four candidates barely reach between them 2% of the voting intention. There are still many undecided voters, according to the most recent polls of the main polling firms.
Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego, a former M-19 guerrilla, participates for the third time in a presidential election. He did it for the first time in 2010, reaching 9% of the vote, and again in 2018, the year in which he obtained 25% in the first round and was defeated in the second round by the current president of Colombia, Iván Duque. Petro was mayor of Bogotá between 2012 and 2015 and is currently a senator.
Federico Andrés Gutiérrez Zuluaga, former mayor of Medellín between 2016 and 2019, disputed the candidacy with a score of aspirants from the center-right that came to the electoral contest extremely atomized. That is probably the main reason why Gutiérrez’s candidacy has not been able to fully consolidate among the majority of Colombian voters, who are definitely not leftists. In contrast, the extreme left unified around Petro since the March 13 legislative elections, in which he won a large vote that allowed him to obtain 20 of the 100 seats in the Senate.
As clearly expressed in his autobiography, Una vida, muchas vidas, published in October 2021, Petro is an integral Marxist-Leninist, totally convinced of the communist goal of suppressing capital and reducing people’s consumption to subsistence level, which cannot be done without doing away with property, the market and political freedoms. All his proposals are aimed at that goal.
Petro proposes the massive monetary emission until the currency is completely destroyed, stripping it of all purchasing power, as Lenin did in Russia, as Castro did in Cuba, and as Chavez did in Venezuela. The destruction of the national currency is accompanied by the absolute prohibition of the majority of the population to have access to other currencies. Stripped of currency, people are at the mercy of the tyranny that manu militari decides where you can live, where you can go, or what you can eat. Petro proposes to steal the food of the poor by provoking shortages and shortages by controlling rents, prices, and wages; and by raising tariffs so that the importation of goods and services is only within the reach of the corrupt oligarchy that through exchange control monopolizes access to foreign currency.
It is false that socialism has failed in Cuba or Venezuela, countries whose economic and political systems Petro admires and wishes to implement in Colombia. The success of socialism in Cuba has been total. Three generations have already been born without the freedom to decide what they want to do with their own person, with their own work, without the possibility of freely exchanging their products and services with others. Three generations are accustomed to the basics, to what the dictatorship that oppresses them decides are their rights, their needs. They no longer rebel or protest, since most of them have fallen into the ominous situation of grateful servitude to which socialist tyrants want to lead the inhabitants of the countries where they manage to impose. Troubled Venezuela is decidedly advancing along this path. Young Venezuelans in their twenties, the same age as the many in Colombia who vote for Petro, have not enjoyed a single second of freedom in their lives.
Despite the fact that his candidacy materialized late and entered into competition with those of Fajardo and Petro, who have already participated in three presidential elections, the intention to vote for Fico Gutiérrez, as he likes to be called, has been growing persistently when he faces Petro directly in the polls conducted by the INVAMER firm.
Additionally, Petro failed in his efforts to get the support of the Liberal Party, which ended up adhering to the candidacy of Fico Gutiérrez. Today, parties—Conservative, Liberal, Centro Democrático, Cambio Radical, Partido de la U and Partido Mira— that reached 60% of the vote in the legislative elections support Fico’s candidacy.
It is also important to point out that trade and business sectors, usually absent from direct electoral politics, have reacted to the threat Petro represents against private property and the market economy by deploying great political activity.
In the 2022 elections, Colombia’s freedoms and democracy are at stake. Contrary to what happened in Venezuela in 1998, Colombia’s political and economic establishment has reacted against the threat posed by Gustavo Petro as its Venezuelan counterpart did not do against Hugo Chavez. Hopefully, the task of containing him will be achieved, since his arrival in the presidency of Colombia would be disastrous for all of Latin America. Gustavo Petro is a Marxist-Leninist and he is as structured and determined as Fidel Castro, and willing to continue promoting the strategy of the São Paulo Forum to sweep capitalism out of all Latin American countries.
Luis Guillermo Vélez Álvarez is an economist and consultant at the Center for Systemic Economics Studies (ECSIM). @LuisGuillermoVl // Luis Guillermo Vélez Álvarez es economista y consultor del Centro De Estudios En Economía Sistémica (ECSIM). @LuisGuillermoVl