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This is Rodolfo Hernández, the Colombian 'Donald Trump' who wants to be president

2022-05-16T20:50:11.511Z

Rodolfo Hernández a local politician who seeks to be president of Colombia in 2022. Those who do not know him can get an idea of ​​him as the Colombian "Donald Trump", who with a fortune amassed in the construction industry seeks to reach the Casa de Nariño .



Rodolfo Hernández says that his rivals are "very scared" 1:14

(CNN Spanish) --

Rodolfo Hernández refers to himself with his profession: he calls himself "Engineer Rodolfo Hernández", as if this were part of his first name.

Those who do not know him can get an idea of ​​him as the Colombian "Trump", who with his own fortune and presenting himself as an

outsider

, an independent politician outside the establishment and the traditional parties, seeks to reach the presidency of Colombia on the 29th of may.

Rodolfo Hernández Suárez (Piedecuesta, Santander, 1945) is a businessman from the Santander region, in northeastern Colombia.

He worked as a construction businessman, with which he amassed his fortune, and after a controversial but popular stint as mayor of Bucaramanga —a city of some 500,000 inhabitants in northeastern Colombia—, he decided to jump into the national arena as presidential candidate with a platform based on the fight against corruption.

Presidential candidate admits he gave interview in pajamas on TV 1:09

His beginnings and early years in politics

Coming from a working-class family, Rodolfo Hernández, a civil engineer by profession, made his fortune entering the business of building low-income housing (for the poorest families) in the 1990s, when Colombia was going through a construction crisis. .

At that time, "in the face of a possible insolvency to pay the credits acquired," says his website, he created PLAN 100, in which families could buy a house in 100 monthly installments that they pay directly to him.

Hernández's company was a construction company and a bank at the same time, earning interest on its own financing.

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Although in 1992 he had already been a councilor for the municipality of Piedecuesta, in Santander, he never attended or took office as a lobbyist, "he only sent a letter renouncing his investiture at the end of 1992, when his term expired," reported the local media La Silla Empty.

CNN requested a comment from its press team on this situation but has not received a response so far.

After decades in the construction business, Hernández registered as an independent candidate with a million signatures.

With his civic movement Logic, Ethics and Aesthetics, and after promising millions of houses for the most vulnerable families, he won the mayor's office in 2016 with just over 77,000 votes.

They were only a few thousand more than his closest Liberal Party opponent.

"The people believed him and he won by just 5,000 votes against a liberal (former) mayor who was 20 points higher in the polls before," Julio Acelas, a political analyst and director of the Santander Citizen Observatory in Bucaramanga, told CNN.

But the mayor did not complete his odyssey, as several scandals caused him to stumble with the Colombian Attorney General's Office, which imposed several disciplinary sanctions on him.

According to reports, by 2019 Hernández had 34 disciplinary investigations open in the Attorney General's Office.

CNN contacted that entity to request information about this, but has not received a response so far.

In 2019, alleging political persecution and when the prosecutor sanctioned him for alleged improper participation in politics, he resigned from his position as mayor of Bucaramanga.

Now he seeks to reach the presidency of Colombia convincing his followers that he is the redeemer that the country needs and that under his government corruption and theft of public money will end.

"Where no one steals money is enough," he says in the presentation of his government plan as an epigraph and assures, convinced, that Colombia's "time has come."

"Money doesn't give fame, it doesn't give recognition, but what is public does," Acelas says about why, according to him, Hernández is on the journey of a presidential campaign.

The analyst says that the objective of the candidate is to appear in public for personal interests.

(From left to right) Colombian presidential candidates Enrique Gómez, Federico Gutiérrez, Rodolfo Hernández and Luis Pérez are seen during a presidential debate at the International Book Fair in Bogotá on April 20, 2022. (Credit: JUAN BARRETO/AFP via GettyImages)

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Hernández, the Colombian "Trump"

Rodolfo Hernández expresses himself in a very colloquial way and often with rudeness.

He is informal and seeks to appear authentic: an interview with CNN en Español via virtual was granted in his pajamas.

Those who criticize him say that he likes to appear, to show himself.

"He's a figurative narcissist and he's already done it," adds Acelas.

"He has created here what in political theory has been called alternative facts: he makes it appear that he was a successful ruler —which he was not— who transformed the city... and a fiction is created very well along the lines of (Donald) Trump", believing himself to be a "redeemer leader", says Acelas.

"Engineer Rodolfo" alludes to the fame Santandereans have: he has a firm character, speaks directly and bluntly, with a strong and forceful tone.

During the campaign he has accused his critics of being "scoundrels", "robbers", "thieves", and even drug addicts whenever he gets a chance.

He uses bad words and expletives because it is "spontaneous, because I am natural, because here at friends' meetings we talk like that," he said in the local media Minute 30.

Hernández has hit his political opponents in front of the cameras.

One of those times occurred in November 2018 when he physically assaulted an opposition councilor in front of the cameras.

The then mayor of Bucaramanga accused councilman Jhon Claro of not letting him speak, of having a "dictatorship."

He called him "scoundrel" and accused him of being in league with the corrupt.

In that exchange of words, Hernández got up from the chair and hit him on the head and also unloaded a barrage of insults that ranged from epithets to vulgarities.

It was "provoked human error," he excused himself later, when the Attorney General's Office suspended him for three months and a judge, in second instance, forced him to pay a fine of about 95 million pesos (about US $ 23,000 at the current exchange rate). that he asked to pay in 190 installments of about US$120 a month, local media reported.

He has made controversial statements, such as not knowing what or where one of the departments of Colombia is ("Vichada? What is that?", he said in a video that went viral).

On another occasion he called the official Bucaramanga fire department "pot-bellied", "fat and lazy".

One of them sued the former mayor for 327 million pesos (about US$80,000).

And in another of his false starts, he publicly said that he was an admirer of Adolf Hitler.

"I am a follower of a great German thinker. His name is Adolf Hitler," he said in 2016 in an interview with the RCN radio network.

Years later, in 2021, when he was already starting his career for the presidency, Hernández said that he was wrong and that he had a lapse in citing Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party responsible for the Jewish Holocaust.

The one he really wanted to quote, he said, was Albert Einstein.

"What he has created is a media fiction that he is an

outsider

because he comes from outside politics. He is a right-wing populist: he also plays at being like Donald Trump," says Acelas, who points to his fortune and his rhetoric incendiary to compare him with the former president of the United States.

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A Rodolfo Hernández mural in Bogotá, Colombia, in May 2022. (Credit: JUAN BARRETO/AFP via Getty Images)

Investigated for alleged corruption

Contradicting his anti-corruption flag, Hernández has an alleged corruption scandal on his back, in which he has declared himself innocent.

This is the case of Vitalogic in which the Prosecutor's Office formally accused him in May 2021 for entering into a consulting contract with alleged irregularities to "implement new technologies for waste management in the El Carrasco landfill."

Hernández insists that "one peso" has never been stolen.

In April 2022, in an evidentiary hearing of the trial, Hernández did not accept charges such as ideological falsehood, contract without compliance with legal requirements and improper interest in entering into contracts, according to the Prosecutor's Office.

The case is still ongoing.

"That's Rodolfo: contradictory of his slogan of not lying and we have already found many lies about him. The issue of corruption has greatly devalued him with the Vitalogic phenomenon, etc.", Acelas points out.

A confusing political spectrum

Hernández is difficult to place on a political spectrum.

But his political journey already has him, according to a Yanhass poll published on May 10, with 12% voting intention among a pack of seven candidates, just behind the great leaders of the race, Gustavo Petro and Federico Gutiérrez, and only one point behind the blank vote.

A few weeks before the elections, Hernández is overtaking Sergio Fajardo, an Antioquian politician who was a favorite in the polls in 2021, but whose voting intention plummeted in the most recent consultations.

After passing through the Bucaramanga mayor's office, Hernández presents some 300 works among "schools, parks, sports areas, public lighting, infrastructure for mobility and culture" as his great achievements.

Hernández was a mayor with good qualifications for his administration.

According to the 2019 citizen perception survey, Bucaramanga Como Vamos, Hernández reached a 62% favorable image in the consultation that year.

52% of people said that he managed well during his mandate, and 47% of those surveyed stated that they trusted his management, against 28% who said they distrusted it.

Now, his government plan has some points that put him on a confusing political spectrum.

Hernández, a victim of the ELN guerrillas who kidnapped and murdered her daughter in 2004, told CNN that she agreed to comply with the agreements signed between the government and the demobilized FARC guerrilla.

This despite the fact that her position in 2016 was to vote no in the plebiscite for peace to endorse the agreement, local media report.

Regarding a possible peace agreement with the ELN, Hernández says that he would sign an "other" to the one already signed with the FARC, a mere administrative procedure, since he does not agree with establishing "new negotiating tables that involve endless conversations," according to his Government plan.

Rodolfo Hernández would open his arms to the ELN 1:24

Among his proposals are lowering VAT from 19% to 10%, reducing the State payroll and eliminating some unpopular taxes such as 4x1,000.

He also says that he will boost subsidies to the least advantaged people and even reduce the high costs of tolls.

Although he says no to fracking, in a recent presidential debate on the economy, Hernández said that he would continue with the development of pilot projects for fracking exploration "if they meet the environmental conditions."

He also said he agrees with expropriating unproductive land in the country.

He says that he will create attention centers for drug addicts and has shown his support for the legalization of drugs such as marijuana - he affirms that Colombia "produces the best" in the world - which, he says, is a source of work and of progress.

"If we continue like this, one day with cocaine it will be the same," Hernández said of the legalization of drugs.

And among his proposals he has even talked about removing the directors of the Colombian Football Federation because in his opinion it is a "circus" full of "thieves" and "scoundrels."

"I'm going to find out what needs to be done to get rid of all these leaders who spoil what's good and start betraying the interests of the fans...", he said in an interview in early May on the Marca Claro channel.

In all view, Hernández is a colorful and controversial character.

Not only because of his outlandish outspoken comments, but also because of his contradictions in the public square where he is rarely seen participating in debates.

His strength, according to Acelas, is being a character, a "rockstar" on social networks who seeks to go to the second round to be the next president of Colombia.

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Elections ColombiaRodolfo Hernández

Source: cnnespanol

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