The moment of truth is approaching in the Colombian presidential elections. Next Sunday the polls will open for the first round and some 38 million voters will begin to define the country’s political future. The campaign has been very long but at this point, and according to the latest polls, there are still between 10 and 15% undecided that could determine the election for either side. Prisa Media will hold a decisive electoral debate this morning, which will be one of the last opportunities to publicly listen to the candidates. Gustavo Petro, Federico Gutiérrez and Sergio Fajardo will confront their proposals in the debate moderated by the journalist Roberto Pombo starting at seven in the morning (Colombian time). The appointment can be followed through the website of EL PAÍS, which organizes the debate together with Caracol Radio, W Radio, Tropicana, Bésame, Oxígeno, Radioacktiva, Los40, Radio Santa Fe and Q’Hubo Radio.
Pombo, director of Elections 2022, The Great Challenge, encourages Colombians not to miss “the great opportunity to compare the candidates’ proposals live and direct and to measure the mood of each one of them before they face each other in the polls”.
Fico Gutiérrez finds it difficult to speak without mentioning security, his main flag. “Without justice there is no security,” he says. Although the phrase “the bandits in jail or in the grave” has become famous in his speech, today he says that it is necessary to decongest the prisons. “They are not resocialization sites, they are crime universities”, he said this morning. For the right-wing candidate, it is urgent that those imprisoned for low-dangerous crimes be able to access productive projects and technical training with the Sena.
After about 10 minutes of delay, Gustavo Petro finally arrived at the debate table: he says that there was a traffic jam to get there. Petro immediately enters to answer the first question about Colombian justice. He says that there have been several justice reforms in recent years, but they have not been enough. “More judges are needed and that obviously means more budget,” he adds. In the case of violence against women, precisely, he says that there is impunity because women do not find judges nearby to take their cases.
But he also talks about restorative justice: that the victims be restored, not just that there be a prison sentence. “If the victim is not restored, there are some accumulations of violence, of revenge,” says the candidate.
Fajardo complements his approach by recalling that what the Government of Iván Duque has done by “co-opting” the control agencies – the Prosecutor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, the Comptroller’s Office – prevents the independence of powers. “The control organisms are a fundamental point to fight against corruption and to do justice”, he points out. Co-opting them, he says, “opens the door to corruption in our country.” We must “recover credibility in the institutional framework,” he concludes.
On the subject of justice, Fico Gutiérrez believes that one of the most urgent issues to be resolved is to decongest judicial processes. He gives as an example the revictimization experienced by women who are assaulted and who do not find effective or rapid responses to their cases. “Justice must serve to solve people’s problems,” said the candidate, who promises to digitize judicial processes.
Sergio Fajardo, the candidate of the Hope Center Coalition, lagging behind in the last polls that were known before the electoral ban on polls, begins the debate questioned about the justice system. He points out that in Colombia, of ten people affected by some type of crime, only three report it, to underline the problems of access to justice. He recalls that he was a pioneer in the Government of Antioquia with mobile justice units, “which can work very well.” He also emphasizes the issues of justice around women and gender violence, with particular needs so that they are not re-victimized.
The debate started without Gustavo Petro, who is late. Roberto Pombo, who moderates, explained to Federico Gutiérrez and Sergio Fajardo that Petro is on its way. He also said that the debate is being heard this morning by 10 million listeners: those who listen to Caracol Radio, W Radio, Tropicana, Bésame, Oxígeno, Radioacktiva, Los40, Radio Santa Fe and Q’Hubo Radio. All of these listeners, we assume, did arrive early to tune in to the debate.
Hello! With just a few days to go before the elections, the presidential candidates who lead the voting intention polls are ready to debate. Federico Gutiérrez arrives at the stretch of the presidential race looking from all sides. Until recently, his main challenge was to keep up the pace and his close to 25% approval rating to get through to the second lap, but a new competitor, Rodolfo Hernández, has appeared on the track and has forced him to step on the accelerator.
Hello. Welcome everyone to the Prisa Media debate, one of the last opportunities to listen to Gustavo Petro, Federico Gutiérrez and Sergio Fajardo. The debate will be moderated by the journalist Roberto Pombo, and the EL PAÍS América team in Colombia will be (we will be) covering all the details live. Juan Diego Quesada and Gladys Serrano are at the Ágora convention center, and from the newsroom we greet them Inés Santaeulalia, Sally Palomino, Camila Osorio, Noor Mahtani, Juan Carlos Zapata and Juan Miguel Hernández.
Hello! This morning the Prisa Media debate begins with three presidential candidates: Gustavo Petro, from the left, Federico Gutiérrez, a candidate from the right, and Sergio Fajardo, from the political center. Rodolfo Hernández, who disputes the second and third votes that Sunday, will not attend the debate. The event will be moderated by journalist Roberto Pombo
According to the latest polls, neither candidate will achieve 50% +1 in the first presidential round, and there are still between 10 and 15% of undecided voters who could determine the election for either side. Although Petro is assured of going to the second round (almost 40% of the intention to vote, according to the polls), second place is currently disputed between Federico Gutiérrez and Rodolfo Hernández.