On Sunday, over 39 million Colombians choose their new president between Gustavo Petro (Historical Pact) and Rodolfo Hernandez (League of Anti-Corruption Rulers). This democratic process occurs amid an endemic violence.
For the 2022 presidential elections, the authorities implement 5,174 polling stations in cities and 7,089 polling stations in rural areas.Below are the main events as they happen.
9.00 pm US Secretary of State Blinken on Petro's election:
"Congratulations to the Colombian people for exercising their right to vote and reaffirming the strength of their democracy. We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with President-Elect @petrogustavo and building a more democratic and equitable hemisphere."
In his first presidential speech, Petro demanded a "new dialogue" in "the Americas", without exclusions, based on the need to preserve planet Earth and humankind, threatened by climate change.
The United States has at least seven military bases in Colombia and Bogotá has been admitted as an external partner of NATO, the Western industrialized countries' military alliance.
8.00 pm President-elect Gustavo Petro anticipates a "new history for Colombia, Latin America and the world", in his first presidential speech to his followers, amid huge celebrations of working people all over Colombia. "We are the sum-up of resistance, of rebelion against injustice, discrimination, inequality".
"How many are not with us today. Tens of tousands, disappeared, jailed, handcuffed, mistreated, simply because they had hope. I request the Procurator's Office the release of our youth," he said.
He said the main objetive of his government will be peace and social justice.
7.40 pm Francia Márquez, Vicepresident-elect of Colombia, In her first speech
"I want to thank God for this moment...Thanks to our ancestors, thanks to my Colombian people, who gave their lives for this moment. Brothers and sisters, social leaders assassinated and disappeared, women raped and disappeared. Thank you for the seed of resistance and hope.
7.20 pm Popular celebrations have taken over the main streets of Colombia's cities and towns. Gustavo Petro's victory is opening the gates of huge people's expectations of change, justice and solidarity repressed for decades.
This is what Britain's former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had to say about it:
"Incredible news from Colombia with the election of a socialist president, who has shown the power of community organising to build a popular policy platform to heal the divisions of the past and bring about social justice."
6.20 pm. More reactions from Latin American leaders...
Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela:
"The Colombian people's will was heard, they came out to defend democracy and peace. New times are coming for that brother country."
Miguel Díaz Canel, Cuba:
My fraternal congratulations to Gustavo Petro on his election as President of Colombia in a historic popular victory. We reiterate our willingness to advance in the development of bilateral relations for the well-being of our peoples.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, México:
"Gustavo Petro's victory is historic. Conservatives in Colombia have always been tenacious and tough."
Gabriel Boric, Chile:
"We shall work together for changes in the continent."
Alberto Fernández, Argentina:
"I am very happy about the triumph of Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez."
7.00 pm Former Bolivian presidente Evo Morales and Peace Nobel-Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, of Argentina congratulated Colombia's President-elect Gustavo Petro.
"The Latin American unity project is advancing under the banners of equal rights, sovereignty and future", wrote Pérez Esquivel on his Twitter account.
In turn, Evo Morales wrote: ""We congratulate the people of Colombia, brother Gustavo Petro, newly elected president and sister Francia Marquez, first Afro-descendant vice president in the history of that country for his undisputed triumph at the polls. It is the victory of peace, truth and dignity."
6.45 pm Defeated in the polls, Rodolfo Hernández chose not to face the cameras and conceded Gustavo Petro's victory in a pre-recorded message published on social media. Hernández wished Petro well and advised him to fight corruption (in spite of being himself under investigation)
Colombian president Iván Duque congratulated Petro on his win in a telephone call, while former president Daniel Samper warned that now the main task is to ensure governance for Petro and his programme of structural change in Colombia.
"I called Petro to congratulate him as president-elect of Colombians. We agreed to meet in the coming days to initiate a harmonious, institutional and transparent transition," Duque said on his Twitter account.
6.30 pm Colombia's progressive "Historial Pact" coalition candidate Gustavo Petro has achieved a solid majority of 50.47 percent in the second round of Presidential elections in Colombia.
With more than 99 percent of votes, Petro has an irreversible advantage of nearly 800,000 votes over his right-wing opponent Rodolfo Hernández. Turn out is almost 58 percent, high in the Colombian tradition of low participation.
4-00 pm Polls closed at 16:00 hrs, local time (21:00 UGT) in the runoff of Presidential elections in Colombia. Vote counting has begun immediately with preliminary partial results already being published. Colombian electoral authorities expect to have final rfigures by 20:00 hrs.
Electoral authorities have played down allegations of irregularities, such as marked ballots, aired on Twitter by presidential hopeful Gustavo Petro and several others in social networks.
In its first report, the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) informed of 104 possible electoral irregularities and crimes in 22 departments and in Bogota, including problems with electoral material and voter harassment. It also regretted the murder of of an electoral witness of Petro's Historical Pact in the municipality of Guapi, Cauca, and of a military man near the polling station of Campo Hermoso, San Vicente del Caguán, Caquetá.
1:00 p.m. Francia Marquez votes so that the Colombian people don't suffer anymore. Vice-presidential candidate Francia Marquez, who is part of the Historical Pact binomial headed by Gustavo Petro, voted in the municipality of Suarez in Cauca, a department historically afflicted by armed violence.
"I vote so that my municipality does not have to suffer violence and my people do not have to walk in fear," said a human rights activist who could become Colombia's first Black vice president.
"Over the past few days, my town has received bomb threats. We are tired of violence... the youth here have no opportunities," Marquez said, emphasizing that if the Historical Pact wins it will create development opportunities for so many Colombian territories that are currently "bathed in blood".
"Whatever happens, we will continue to be here with joy. I call on all Colombians to receive the electoral results in peace and with calm, energy, and enthusiasm."
11:00 am: Senator Maria Jose Pizarro votes in tribute to peace. The daughter of Carlos Pizaro —the former commander of the M19 guerrilla who was assassinated after laying down his arms and becoming a presidential candidate in 1990— called on citizens to vote massively to change Colombian history.
She, who is currently part of the coalition of political and social organizations supporting Gustavo Petro, was 12 years old when her father was riddled with bullets on a flight between Bogota and Barranquilla.
Despite this political assassination, the M-19 respected the peace agreement and became a leading political force in the drafting of the new Colombian constitution in 1991.
Hoy papá, voto por ti, voto en homenaje a la paz que soñaste para Colombia. Voto por mis hijas y todos los hijos de esta tierra, por nosotras las mujeres, las comadres de la nación— María José Pizarro Rodríguez (@PizarroMariaJo) June 19, 2022
Voto por el sueño @petrogustavo que me convocaste a construir. Ha sido un honor acompañarte✊�������� pic.twitter.com/Fb4yv92wB6
Senator Maria Jose Pizarro's tweet reads, "Dad. Today I vote for you, I vote in tribute to the peace you dreamed of for Colombia. I vote for my daughters and all this land's children. I vote for us, the nation's women. I vote for the dream that Gustavo Petro called to build. It has been an honor to accompany you."
10:32 a.m. Gustavo Petro votes in Bogota. "We have to vote massively," said the Leftist candidate after voting in the capital city.
"The invitation is to go out and vote en masse. Everything that could have been done during the campaign is now synthesized in going to the polls. The polls await young people and women to change the history of Colombia. Today we have to defeat any attempt of fraud through a massive vote," he said.
These statements occur amid citizen suspicions about the independence of Civil Registry director Rodolfo Hernandez, whom Petro does not consider an impartial actor either.
8:53: Former rector of the Universidad de los Andes affirms his vote for change. "I am going to vote for the one who has called for a national agreement, the one who represents the possibility of responsible change, the one who has restored hope to millions of Colombians," Alejandro Gaviria tweeted.
The tweet reads, "You live it, you feel it, Petro is president. Look at this overflowing joy where Gustavo Petro voted. Let's all fill the ballot boxes and avoid fraud. Petro is president."
8:40: Duke asks to have "full confidence" in the results. After voting at a polling station installed in the National Capitol in Bogota, Colombian President Ivan Duque asked citizens to have "confidence in the institutions" and in the transparency of the electoral results.
He said that Colombia has one of the oldest and most solid democracies in the hemisphere, which has always allowed a process of peaceful, orderly, institutional transition of the presidential command.
"We can tell the next president-elect that he will have our full support to begin the presidential transition process," he said.
Esta es la tarjeta electoral con la que podrás ejercer tu derecho al voto el próximo domingo, 19 de junio, en la segunda vuelta de los comicios presidenciales.#Elecciones2022#GarantesDeLaDemocracia#TuVotoImporta pic.twitter.com/yAnaC6sdRf— Registraduría Nacional del Estado Civil (@Registraduria) June 19, 2022
8:35 a.m. Rodolfo Hernandez votes in Bucaramanga City. Accompanied by a strong security device, the far-right politician Rodolfo Hernandez voted at the Santander High School in the city where he was mayor from 2016 to 2019, when he resigned as a result of a sanction from the Office of the Attorney General.
Popularly known as "The Engineer," Hernandez said he "hopes" to win the presidency. He will await the election results accompanied by his family and without the presence of the press
8:00 a.m. Elections begin without incident. From the early hours of the morning, hundreds of citizens began lining up outside the polling stations to vote. The Colombian second electoral round began without reports of violent incidents.
"Despite the rains in Tunja City in Cartagena, there are already lines of voters waiting for the polls to open," W Radio reported, adding that due to the rains, "two polling stations were moved in Cordoba: one in Alfonso Lopez and the other one in San Andres de Sotavento."