Tomorrow is election day; Colombia votes for a president. With five candidates on the voting card, President Santos is looking for reelection while ex-president and death squad leader Uribe tries to regain control through his candidate Oscar Iván Zuluaga; Marta Lucía Ramirez attempts to uphold the Catholic family values through her Conservative party; Peñalosa shakes off his previous Uribe affiliations to run for the Green Party; and Clara López who allied with Aída Avella from the UP as vice president seems to have the best platform but the worst ratings in the polls.
In the polls I’ve taken over the past couple of weeks, it seems that Colombians are disillusioned with all candidates and have chosen not to vote at all. Many a taxi driver, CPT partner, and neighbour are choosing not to execute their democratic right considering it a lost cause – a feeling I’ve taken on as well after the past two weeks of campaign smearing and a slew of scandals involving Santos and Zuluaga in dirty wars. The presidential debate was on Thursday night, setting precedent as the first presidential debate where all candidates showed up, only to have Santos and Zuluaga throw punches regarding the scandal the whole time and the other three with nothing special to say.
What’s more interesting is that Colombia has the option of a “blank vote” where, if more than 50% of the population votes blank, the current candidates are scrapped and a new election takes place with new candidates. Brilliant right? Unfortunately, this method of ensuring a democracy that isn’t voting for “the best of the worst” doesn’t even give Colombians hope. Of those who are voting, I haven’t heard of one who will vote blank.
So, what could be an exciting day for change and hope for Colombians doesn’t feel that special anymore. Since I can’t vote, I get to sit back and watch, which will sure be interesting enough seeing as election day here is rumoured to be quite different from the countries where I cast my vote. Stay tuned for my experiences and observations from tomorrow’s results, but for now I leave you with a publication by CPT Colombia:
10 questions for the next president
3. What guarantees of no repetition can you give in regards to paramilitary commanders being released from prison?
4. How will you combat impunity enjoyed by the Police and Military for crimes committed against grassroots processes?
5. What guarantees can you provide conscientious objectors of obligatory military service?
6. What steps will you take to address the environmental crisis in the country?
7. Will you approve the law that condemns femicide after the increased acid attacks against women?
8. How will you ensure that the laws protecting the rights of the LGBT community are upheld?
9. Will you be the president to finally comply with the signed agreements with the farmers and miners?
10. Will you respect the right of the land to be used in sustainable manner that benefits the Colombian people rather than multinational corporations?
see article here