The Colombian candidate, this Sunday during the closing of the campaign in Bogotá, where he gathered thousands of people. Iván Valencia
Colombia enters a decisive week.
Within seven days the citizens will begin to choose the direction of the country.
Never had such antagonistic models of nation confronted each other so openly.
The only one who is assured of his passage to the second round is Gustavo Petro, the left-wing candidate, who has brought together the discontent for a form of government that seems exhausted and that was called into question with the protests of last year.
His rival aimed to be Fico Gutiérrez, the one chosen by the right, the Medellin politician whom the establishment trusted to stop the left-wing leader.
On the horizon, however, has appeared Rodolfo Hernández, a foul-mouthed, populist rival who has come perilously close to Gutiérrez in the polls.
In these days that are missing, where it is already forbidden to publish polls and hold public meetings,
the two will fight in the dark to go to the next vote.
The great favorite will await them there, who closed his campaign in Bogotá this Sunday with a phrase that he has pronounced in the more than 100 rallies he has given in these two months: "My name is Gustavo Petro and I want to be your president."
The 62-year-old man who bids farewell with such solemnity trusts that everything will be over on Sunday.
He needs an absolute majority to proclaim himself the winner at once.
A similar feat has only been achieved before by Álvaro Uribe Vélez, who in his days as a candidate also sold himself as an
away from the traditional parties and their politicking, like Petro.
The polls, for now, show that he is halfway to achieving it.
He should raise about seven points in voting intention to have options, something not easy for him, since he is one of the best-known characters in the country and of whom people usually have a very robust opinion, either for or against .
His discourse has focused on recent times and he is less and less associated with Castrochavism and the dogmatic left.
His staging in Bogotá this Sunday endorsed all this.
When he came out before the public, an acrobat zip-lined across Simón Bolívar Square with a Colombian flag and left it in his hands.
The former M-19 guerrilla waved it like a patriot.
Then, surrounded by bodyguards holding bulletproof shields to prevent an assassination, he highlighted the importance of what is to come: “The time has come.
We don't need rifles like them or point a tear gas gun at anyone.
Not all the rifles together could change history like a ballpoint pen can.
A pen is more important than a rifle and we are going to prove it”.
"On Sunday," he added, "we will change the history of Colombia."
He again referred to an alleged plot to postpone the elections and prevent his victory, something that has already been denied by the Government and that is also impossible with the Constitution in hand.
The independent presidential candidate, former mayor of Bucaramanga Rodolfo Hernández, greets his followers during his visit to Piedecuesta. MARCO VALENCIA (EFE)
Out of the corner of his eye, however, he looks at Hernández.
He doesn't want it in the second round.
Petro made in his speech several references to the fight against corruption, the flag of the former mayor of Bucaramanga.
His victory in the first round is not threatened by the rise of the businessman, he does not take votes away from him.
Voters for this unique character come from Fajardo, the center candidate, abstention, blank votes and a small percentage from Fico, according to the Atlas Intelligence survey.
But with him in the second round, Petro could not accuse him of being the continuity, as he does non-stop with Fico to demobilize his potential electorate.
In short, Hernández, because of his mystery, his volatility, generates more fear.
Hernández closed his campaign in the town where he was born, Piedecuesta, where his 98-year-old mother still runs a sugar factory.
The curious thing is that he entered by videoconference and gave a very brief speech, barely seven minutes long (Petro, who does not stand out for his ability to synthesize, spoke in Bogotá for two hours).
Enough to portray his ways and his intentions.
Hernández charged against the "corrupt politicians" with his usual folksy tone and took it for granted that he would be president.
When it seemed that that was all, he appeared in person and put his countrymen in his pocket.
In his only attempt in politics before this, in 2016, he won the mayor of Bucaramanga when the polls gave him only 4% in intention to vote.
He is convinced that the same thing can happen to him now.
First he will have to overcome Fico, until just a few days ago the only one who seemed capable of facing Petro.
Fico shut down his city, Medellín, where he charged against the favorite and against the mayor of that city, Daniel Quintero, suspended by the Attorney General's Office –in a very questionable decision– for campaigning in favor of Petro.
Gutiérrez has the support of the big companies, of national heroes like Egan Bernal, but he has not finished taking off.
He has been stuck at just over 20% almost since the start of the race.
He needs a real growth spurt to, firstly, stop Rodolfo's climb and, secondly, to knock Petro down.
He has extra help.
The Legionaries of the Divine Blood of Christ, a Catholic group, gave him a baby Jesus identical to the one they gave Iván Duque four years ago in the campaign,
the current president.
According to them, he was blessed.
The candidate for the presidency of Colombia, Federico Gutiérrez, greets his supporters, as he goes to the stage to give his closing speech for the campaign.
Medellin, Colombia, May 22, 2022. Santiago Mesa
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