Election live in Colombia: Pre-counting of ballots and after-polls

debt…Natalia Angarita for The New York Times

Rodolfo Hernandez, the construction tycoon who turned out to be the surprise candidate in Colombia’s presidential election, has largely withdrawn from public life in recent weeks.

He refused to attend the discussions and did not hold rallies, instead opting for a live broadcast organized by his social media team.

But on Sunday, as voting began, Hernandez came out of a white car surrounded by bodyguards in his hometown of Bukaramanga to cheer voters on.

“Long live Rodolfo!” His supporters shouted, and many were forced to look at the candidate as he entered his polling booth.

Hernandez walked through the group with a wide smile. Opposing him was Gustavo Pedro, a longtime senator and former rebel who sought to become the country’s first left-wing president, who voted 400 kilometers south of the capital, Bogot.

In the city of Bukharamanga Hernandez amassed his wealth and became mayorHis candidacy has generated political interest and deep regional pride among voters who say he believes he represents them.

Carlos Campova, 42, was among the voters waiting in line when Hernandez came to vote.

“Most of us are with Rodolfo,” he said, adding that he did not believe it PetroIn part, the candidate was a member of the M-19 rebel group.

Although Hernandez was charged with corruption, he ran an anti-corruption platform and was accused of pressuring his subordinates to award a municipal contract to a particular company, which would benefit his son.

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He has said he is innocent.

At the polls in Bukaramanga, many voters were not worried about dismissal.

“No one who comes to power here will be clean,” said Gilma Bezera, 58, “Rodolfo is less corrupt.”

In Bogot, Sunday morning, 24 – year – old Adriana Martinez was already standing in line outside a high school in the working class neighborhood of El Sosiko.

After finishing the night shift as a health administrative assistant, he went straight to the polls on the bus.

Martinez said he supports Pedro and that his decision was particularly influenced by his choice France Marquez For the vice president, she could be the first black woman to be vice president in the country.

Marquez was an environmental activist who went from poverty to a national phenomenon, and spoke on the campaign trail about race, class and gender rarely heard at the highest levels of Colombian politics.

“He’s the person we’ve come from,” Martinez said. “From below, he had to fight poverty, to be where he was.”

Martinez said he did not focus on the argument that Pedro’s policies would cause the same kind of economic, humanitarian and democratic crisis as in Venezuela.

In Colombia, “One does not have enough money to buy a potato. In that sense, we are already living in abject poverty. “

At the same polling station, 31-year-old Ingrid Forrero said he saw a generational divide in his community, with the younger generation supporting Pedro and the older generation supporting Hernandez.

Her own family calls her “guerrilla” for her support, which she says favors Pedro because of his policies on education and wage inequality.

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“Young people are more inclined towards revolution,” he said, “on the left, towards change.”

Eden Hayes

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