Regardless of whether or not he wins the second round of Colombia’s presidential election, which will be held in June , Rodolfo Hernández is already the big surprise of the dispute.
At the end of March, polls showed that the businessman nicknamed “Colombian Donald Trump” had about 10% of voting intentions. Hernández moved up the level and in the final stretch of the first round he was already tied with the second place, Federico “Fico” Gutiérrez, former mayor of Medellín and supported by the Democratic Center, party of the current president, Iván Duque.
On Sunday (29), Rodolfo Hernández had 29% of the votes , took “Fico” out of the second round and was only behind the leftist Gustavo Petro, who had 40%. Four run-off simulations carried out last week showed the “Colombian Trump” technically tied with the former guerrilla in three surveys and ahead in another.
Hernández is compared to the former US president for his career as a businessman and for his anti-system speech. His main platform is the fight against corruption – in the presentation of his government plan, he said that “where nobody steals, money is enough”.
His outsider profile is also manifested in the language little political: during the campaign, he accused his critics of being “shameless”, “thieves” and drug addicts, while defending his constant use of profanity. “It is spontaneous, because I am natural, because here at friends’ meetings we talk like this”, he justified.
The successful businessman, far from traditional politics and Colombian castes, began his career in Bucaramanga, capital of the department of Santander, in the northeast of country, where he was born and where he became a millionaire in the field of social housing construction.2018
Raised in a working-class family, Hernández, from 77 years old, is married to Socorro Oliveros and has four children: Luis Carlos, Mauricio, Rodolfo José and Juliana, disappeared after being kidnapped by the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas in 2016 .
In his political career, he made the title of “engineer” something inseparable from his name, giving the idea that because he was rich, he would not need to steal from the public coffers.
Hernández came to power in Bucaramanga from his home: he bought an apartment across the street, where he set up an office where he received everyone. The eccentricities also followed him to the mayor’s office, where every Monday he broadcast his popular “Talk to the Mayor” on Facebook.
The engineer arrived in the race for the presidency with some controversies along the way, such as an interview in 2016 in which he said he admired “the great German thinker” Adolf Hitler (later said it was “an oversight”) or when he attacked an opposition councilor from the city hall of Bucaramanga in 2018, which eventually led to the suspension of his mandate.
Despite the speech that has become a flag, Hernández is involved in a corruption case that dates back to his time as mayor due to alleged irregularities in a consultancy contract for waste management in Bucaramanga. The trial is scheduled for after the elections.
Hernández counts on the historic rejection of the left, which never reached the presidency in Colombia, to defeat Petro. “Fico” declared support for the businessman in the second round, as well as Ígrid Betancourt, held hostage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) between 2002 and 2016 , had done when giving up his candidacy a week before the first vote.2018
Politicians linked to former president Álvaro Uribe (2002 )-2010) are also expressing support for Hernández, as is María Fernanda Cabal, the second most voted senator in the March legislative elections.
“The triumph of Rodolfo is the triumph against the establishment. The country needs change, not the suicide offered by Petro, but the authority, order and prosperity offered by a businessman like Rodolfo Hernández,” he wrote on Twitter.