Social movements prepare to mobilize as Ivan Duque wins Colombian presidential polls

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He is a protege of former President Alvaro Uribe during whose term nearly 32,000 forced disappearances took place

By Prasanth R. / The Dawn News / June 19, 2018

Right-wing candidate Ivan Duque won the presidential elections in Colombia, having obtained 53.98% of the nearly 19.5 million votes polled in Sunday’s election. His opponent, leftist candidate Gustavo Petro, who won nearly 8 million votes, recognized the results but noted that it was no defeat, praising the nature of the mobilization and the coalition that endorsed him. “Eight million Colombian men and women standing freely. No defeat here…We will return to the Senate of the Republic, not to do what was done in the past; but to go from there to the country, to go through the streets and the squares of Colombia,” he said.  Social movements across the country, which were active in Petro’s campaign, are already mobilizing to consolidate the wave of support for him in the elections.

Duque is a protege of former President Alvaro Uribe and his cabinet is likely to be staffed by those who were part of the latter’s government. Uribe’s eight years as president were marked by the forced disappearance of nearly 32,000 people and the extrajudicial killings of thousands. Nearly 270 cases are open against him on a variety of counts.

In a speech to his supporters after the results were announced, Petro said that Duque would have to decide if he wanted to retain his ties to the “most obsolete forces in Colombia, with Alvaro Uribe and [former inspector general Alejandro] Ordoñez.” He added that “8 million Colombians won’t let them return to fight a war in the country.”

Duque’s victory has led to doubts about the continuation of the peace process in Colombia. He had announced that he would review the 2016 agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The latter has expressed its willingness to meet Duque to ensure the continuation of the process.

Duque had also earlier announced that he would consider shifting the Colombian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, on the lines of the decision by US President Donald Trump.    

Humane Colombia

Meanwhile, social movements have decided to mobilize against the victory of right wing forces, as they consider Petro was the best and greatest opportunity ever in Colombia through elections to achieve a change. “These eight million voters mean a lot. It is the best ever electoral result for an alternative or left proposal in Colombian history.  So the challenge now is to convert these 8 million voters into 8 million people ready to take to the streets,” an activist involved with the campaign told The Dawn News.

The campaign, Humane Colombia has provided a platform for various social movements and grassroot level organisations to come together. “This is a unique opportunity in terms of unity. I am not saying that Petro’s programme would be the limit of this unity, but it will be the base to build this unity of movements. There are already some proposals of a social-political front to be built out of Humane Colombia, which was already a coalition of many different parties and social organizations,” she added.

The social movements noted that Petro has been respectful of the diversity and representation of all sectors in the mobilization post the election results. They stressed on the fact that it was a campaign of not just about Petro, but of organized and non-organized community and popular sectors.

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