Peace and Reconciliation Foundation warns of increased violence in Colombia as May 29 presidential election approaches

Published by Brent Patterson on

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This is an election year for Colombia.

The presidential election will take place on May 29 and current President Ivan Duque, who is not running for re-election, will hand over power to the new president on August 7.

There will also be legislative elections on March 13. That election will elect members to the House of Representatives and Senate.

Bloomberg has reported that a survey conducted between November 26 and December 1, 2021, shows Senator Gustavo Petro leading the presidential candidates with 42.1%, while former Medellín mayor Sergio Fajardo ranks second with 18.9% support.

That article adds: “Rodolfo Hernandez, former mayor of Bucaramanga, obtained 13.8%, while Óscar Iván Zuluaga, from President Iván Duque’s Democratic Center party, had 12.7% support, according to the survey.”

Some commentary points to the recent wins by Gabriel Boric in Chile and Pedro Castillo in Peru. For instance, comments: “Conflict-torn Colombia could be the next regional country to have a left-wing anti-extractivist president. Former leftwing guerilla senator Gustavo Petro holds a massive lead over his opponents in the country’s political polls.”

It adds that Petro promises to not renew existing coal mining contracts upon expiry, restrict large-scale open pit metals mining, end contracting for petroleum exploration, eventually halt crude oil exports, and ban fracking.

Last month, Infobae reported: “The Peace and Reconciliation Foundation (Pares) warned of the growing violence in the face of the 2022 elections in which 16 people have been killed in the exercise of their electoral work for next year and who, in addition, are part of the 140 victims of another type of violence related to the campaigns for next year’s elections in 99 events that have been registered since March 13 of [2021].”

In September, Reuters had reported: “Most victims were elected public officials like mayors and city councillors from left-leaning parties like the Green Alliance and Human Colombia, the group [Pares] said.”

The Pares report says: “This situation will likely worsen nationally given the strengthening of alternative political parties compared to traditional political classes.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has maintained a friendly relationship with Colombian President Ivan Duque and Canadian companies are heavily invested in the oil industry in Colombia. Between 2019 and 2021, Canadian companies secured 39 new oil exploration blocks in Colombia.

The Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia also continue to import coal from the controversial Cerrejón mine in Colombia. NB Power has been buying approximately 500,000 tonnes of coal from the mine since the mid-1990s.

We will be watching this electoral context in Colombia in 2022 in relation to the safety of human rights defenders.

PBI has been present in Colombia since 1994.

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