On Wednesday March 23, the Historic Pact coalition confirmed its presidential ticket with candidates Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez. The duo obtained the highest vote in the primaries held on March 13. According to the latest opinion polls, the unity ticket of the progressive forces is favored to win the presidential elections on May 29, with about 47% of the voting preference.
“Today we have reached a definitive moment. We have achieved an undeniable triumph. Millions of Colombians want the country to change, and today they are the majority,” Petro declared during the event announcing his candidacy.
In addition to the announcement of the presidential ticket, the duo also offered a press conference to local media.
“We made this decision in a collective way, knowing that it represents the change we want for Colombia. From exclusion to democracy, from violence to peace,” Petro said.
After controversies over the possibility that the ticket could be formed by a name from outside the Historic Pact, seeking to broaden the coalition, Petro responded by saying that Francia “is the best candidate we have had in recent times in Colombia.”
Francia Márquez is a lawyer and environmental leader, native of Cauca, a region in the Colombian Pacific. With more than 786,000 votes, she was the third most voted pre-candidate among all the options from all the tickets that held primaries on March 13.
“The fight continues because the challenge we have is to stop the environmental crisis. It is with everyone that we will generate change,” Márquez assured.
Márquez also stated that she will work for the reparation of the rights of Colombian Afro-descendant communities.
In 2018, Francia Márquez won the top prize recognizing nature’s defenders, the Goldman Environmental Prize, and at the time, she also gave a speech honoring the ancestral knowledge of her community.
“In our community, we have learned that dignity is priceless. To love and value the territory as a living space, and to fight for it, even at the risk of our own lives,” she said.
Controversy in the legislative elections
On Wednesday, the director of Colombia’s National Civil Registry also announced that he would reverse his decision to request a recount of the votes from the legislative elections.
After a series of fraud allegations, and with a 7% difference in the numbers offered in the pre-count and in the final results of the process held on Sunday March 13, the director Alexander Vega had requested the recount of all the votes – a demand presented by different political organizations when the first preliminary results were released.
Gustavo Petro himself presented a complaint that in 29,000 polling stations votes had not counted the Historic Pact ticket.
The observations were taken into account and, in the official results, the leftist party increased its result by 390,000 votes, electing 19 instead of 16 senators.
With the expressive victory of the opposition, the ruling Democratic Center party and President Iván Duque maintained pressure for the result to be revised a week after the electoral process took place.
However, the left-wing and center-left coalitions denounced that recounting the votes, a week after the end of the elections and without the presence of the inspectors of each party, would be a coup. The pressure made the director of the Civil Registry back down.
The National Electoral Council thanked Alexander Vega for his position. “This takes a weight off our backs and gives guarantees to the electoral process,” said César Abreu, president of the Colombian CNE.
This article was first published on Brasil de Fato.