Colombia: left holds on to Bogotá

Colombians went to the polls on Oct. 28 to elect 18,527 local and regional officials, including mayors, governors, municipal council members and deputies. As has been usual in regional elections, turnout was low. The campaign was marked by the murders of 29 candidates—mostly attributed to the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)—and efforts by right-wing paramilitaries to extend their influence.

The race that attracted the most attention was for the Bogotá mayor’s office, which set Samuel Moreno Rojas of the leftist Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA) against Enrique Penalosa, who was backed by right-wing Colombian president Alvaro Uribe. With 94% of the vote counted, Moreno had won 43.4% of the vote, followed by Penalosa with 28.5% and the popular soccer announcer William Vinasco, of the National Afro-Colombian Movement, with 16.6%. Moreno started his political activities with the Popular National Alliance, which was affiliated with the rebel M-19 after it gave up the armed struggle in 1991. He succeeds the unionist Luis Garzon; the left has held Bogota since 2003.

Alonso Salazar, a journalist and author of a popular biography of the late drug lord Pablo Escobar, was elected Medellin mayor with 44.2% of the vote on the Indigenous Social Alliance ticket, against 38.7% for former mayor Luis Perez. Leftist Jorge Ospina beat former minister Francisco Lloreda in the race for mayor of Cali by 44% to 38%. (La Jornada, Mexico, Oct. 29 from AFP, DPA, Reuters)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 11

See our last post on Colombia.