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  • Gustavo Petro (L) and Ivan Duque (R) will face-off on the June 17 second round of votes.

    Gustavo Petro (L) and Ivan Duque (R) will face-off on the June 17 second round of votes. | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 May 2018

The two candidates represent opposite poles in Colombia’s political spectrum and have contrasting positions on the economy, peace, and national security.

Colombian presidential candidates Ivan Duque, of the Democratic Center, and Gustavo Petro, of the Humane Colombia movement will dispute the presidency on June 17 after gaining 39 and 25 percents of votes in the May 27 first round, respectively.

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The two candidates represent opposite poles in Colombia’s political spectrum and have contrasting positions on economic development, the peace process and national security.

On economic development, while Duque upholds the overall economic model promising to improve productivity through business incentives and has endorsed opening up Colombia to fracking, Petro is urging Colombia to move away from extractive industries and to dynamize the agricultural sector by supporting small-scale farmers and producers and promoting agrarian reform.

On the peace process Duque has announced that if elected he would introduce “structural modifications” to the Peace Accord reached in Havana with the now-extinct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to ban former guerrillas from political participation and reform the Special Jurisdiction for Peace to impose prison terms on former guerrilla fighters.

Furthermore, Duque has consistently opposed the ongoing peace talks between President Juan Manuel Santos’ government and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Duque has conditioned future negotiations on a cease of the group's attacks against state security forces and acceptance of prison terms.

On the other hand, Petro has consistently expressed his support for the Peace Accords and argued that peace is not only the absence of conflict but knowing how to resolve them. In a recognition of the underlying causes of Colombia’s protracted armed conflict, Petro has vowed to tackle social inequality to ensure lasting peace.

On the ELN dialogue, Petro has said greater trust must be built in order to achieve a definitive ceasefire and end the war.

In terms of security analysts expect Duque to continue with the model of “democratic security” installed by his political sponsor, former president Alvaro Uribe, which uphold a militaristic approach to fighting drug trafficking and insurgencies.

The model has been criticized for human rights violations, including false-positives under Uribe's presidency, and relegating the structural elements of armed conflict.

Petro has offered to move away from a predominantly punitive model to one of prevention by strengthening a welfare state model that would secure the realization of social and economic rights.  


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