Colombia: left parties throw support behind Santos

Two left-wing parties in Colombia, the Patriotic March and Patriotic Union, have chosen to support the re-election campaign of President Juan Manuel Santos in the upcoming second round of presidential elections, citing the ongoing peace process with the FARC as the main reason. In a May 30 press conference, UP leader Aida Avella stated, "At this moment, we believe it is best to support the candidate who has opened dialogues, and seeks a political and negotiated solution [to the armed conflict]… Our desire is for Colombia to not return to the conflict." Avella was the first-round running-mate for Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA) presidential candidate Clara López. PDA senator-elect Ivan Cepeda took to Twitter to express his support for Santos and the peace process: "I don’t want a paramilitarized country, I want a democratic country. I will vote in favor of the peace process in Havana, Cuba that is being constructed by this government and the FARC." Cepeda's father was a senator for the Patriotic Union, assassinated in 1994 by state agents—along with an estimated four to six thousand other members since the establishment of the party in 1985. Leader of the Patriotic March, controversial politician Piedad Córdoba, similarly stated that the end of the conflict is the "greatest desire" for all Colombians.  The June 15 run-off race will pit Santos against hardline Oscar Ivan Zuluaga of ex-president Alvaro Uribe's new Democratic Center party. (Colombia Reports, May 30)