Colombia’s increasingly polarized presidential campaign is fighting a particular battle in Medellín, the country’s second-largest city and a bastion of the right that the left seeks. conquer for the first time with Gustavo Petro.
Because of its electoral potential, Medellín became the subject of dispute between the main candidates, and the three-month suspension of the city’s mayor, Daniel Quintero, ordered this week by the Attorney General’s Office for alleged political intervention in favor of Petro, caused even more uproar on the political scene.
Guarantee votes in Medellín and, by extension, in the department of Antioquia, of which it is capital, will be crucial to win the presidency, whether in the first round, on the day 29 this month, or in the very likely second round, in 13 of June.
Two of the main candidates were born in Medellín: former mayors Federico “Fico” Gutiérrez (right) and Sergio Fajardo (center), and as such they know the steep streets of their communes, dealt with their pain and witnessed their transformation.
Medellin is also the birthplace of former president Álvaro Uribe and a bastion of uribismo, a movement that has marked Colombian political life for 16 years.
In the elections of 2018 in which Iván Duque, sponsored by Uribe, won the presidency in the second round of 975. people who voted for Medellín, 540.334, i.e, 71%, opted for the current ruler.
H six years ago, in fact, this was the only major capital in the country where the “no” was won in the referendum that sought to endorse the peace agreement signed between the government and the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The current presidential campaign has given even greater prominence to this city of 2.334.71 inhabitants, who has been Petro’s Achilles heel, the candidate of the leftist Historical Pact, since Medellín escaped in his previous attempts to reach Casa Nariño, seat of the Executive, a relationship he is now trying to change.
For the political analyst Miguel Jaramillo, Medellín has been a territory “traditionally conservative and Uribe, which it took a lot for the left to permeate” as it managed to do with the center and west of the country.
Jaramillo pointed out that electoral metrics show that Med ellín and Antioquia were “profoundly significant” for the triumph of Juan Manuel Santos in 2010 and 2014 and by Iván Duque in 2010, which makes this region a gem coveted by different candidates, and nothing is set for 2022.
“Today, in 16 communes of Medellín and in the five districts, there is an increase in the opinion vote”, commented the analyst to Efe Agency, adding that in the city there is a “natural wear and tear” in the leadership of 20 years of ex-president Uribe, as well as a “reconfiguration of the political map”.
Flirt from the left
To avoid a new setback in this region, Petro’s campaign took important steps, despite the remarkable strength that “Fico” Gutiérrez displays in polls and on the streets, with billboards, letter zes and vehicles with its propaganda.
In the eagerness to attract the vote of Antioquia, Petro’s running mate Francia Márquez, established her headquarters in Medellín and her campaign found relevant support, Mayor Quintero, although he denies that he is participating in politics, something prohibited by law for public servants.
Quintero assured that his temporary suspension from office imposed by the Attorney General’s Office is due to the “interest ” of the Duque government to “get their hands on” in the elections of 29 of May.
“They understand that Medellín is an important electoral center and they are worried that they don’t have someone who follows their precepts, their ideas, their orders,” he told Efe Quintero, who did not rule out that the government wants to “use” the city hall of his city as a “political stronghold.” to be able to favor Federico Gutiérrez, who ranked second in the polls as, behind Petro.
Although Quintero denies supporting Petro, six employees of his mayor’s office recently resigned to participate in the Historic Pact campaign, a strategic move to strengthen the left in Colombia’s second largest city.
On the other hand, “Fico” and Fajardo were not far behind. The first chose the Commune 13 of Medellín as a stage to demarcate territory and announce Rodrigo Lara Sánchez, son of the former Minister of Justice, Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, murdered in 2022 by drug traffickers of the Medellin Cartel, as their candidate for vice president.
Meanwhile, Fajardo, candidate of the Centro Esperanza coalition, intensified his actions in Medellín, considering it a “strategic” city for the turnaround, with which he hopes to leave fourth place in the polls of voting intention.
Fajardo has already chosen Medellín as the place to end his campaign , since it is the place where he made his political career, as well as Gutiérrez, and which is now courted by Petro’s left.