Rodolfo Hernández, a building magnate- turned-social media star who has emerged as a shock candidate in Colombia’s presidential election, has been largely absent from public life in latest weeks.
He has refused to attend debates and held no rallies, favoring stay streams assembled by his social media staff.
But on Sunday, as polls opened, Mr. Hernández stepped out of a white automobile in Bucaramanga, his hometown, surrounded by physique guards, and into a roaring crowd of voters.
“Long live Rodolfo!” screamed supporters, many scrambling to get a glimpse of the candidate as he walked into his polling station.
Mr. Hernández pushed by the pack with a broad grin. His opponent, Gustavo Petro, a longtime senator and former insurgent who’s making an attempt to develop into the nation’ first left-wing president, forged his poll greater than 250 miles to the south, within the capital of Bogotá.
In Bucaramanga, the midsize metropolis where Mr. Hernández built his fortune and once served as mayor, his candidacy has created a political fervor and a deep regional satisfaction amongst voters who say they consider he represents them.
Carlos Gamboa, 42, businessman, was among the many pack of voters ready in line when Mr. Hernández arrived to vote.
“Most of us are with Rodolfo,” he stated, including that he didn’t belief Mr. Petro, partly due to the candidate’s time as a member of the rebel group M-19.
Mr. Hernández has run on an anti-corruption platform, regardless of being indicted on corruption expenses, accused of pushing subordinates to award a metropolis contract to a explicit firm, a deal that would have benefited his son.
He has stated he’s harmless.
At the polls in Bucaramanga, many citizens didn’t appear troubled by the accusation.
“No one who will rise to power here is clean,” stated Gilma Beserra, 58, “but Rodolfo is the least corrupt.”
In Bogotá on Sunday morning, Adriana Martínez, 24, was already lined up outdoors a highschool within the working-class neighborhood of El Sosiego.
She had simply completed the night time shift as a well being administration assistant and had gone straight to the voting station by bus.
Ms. Martínez stated she was supporting Mr. Petro, and that the choice was influenced specifically by his alternative of Francia Márquez for vice chairman, who may develop into the nation’s first feminine Black vice chairman.
Ms. Márquez is an environmental activist who has risen from poverty to develop into a nationwide phenomenon, talking in the course of the marketing campaign about race, class and gender in a direct method not often heard within the highest echelons of Colombian politics.
“She is a person who comes from where we come from,” stated Ms. Martínez, “she had to fight to get where she is.”
Ms. Martínez stated she gave little weight to the argument that Mr. Petro’s insurance policies would lead to the identical type of financial, humanitarian and democratic disaster that has occurred in Venezuela.
In Colombia, “you don’t have enough money to buy a potato. In that sense we are already in extreme poverty” she stated.
At the identical polling station, Ingrid Forrero, 31, stated she noticed a generational divide in her group, with younger individuals supporting Mr. Petro and older generations in favor of Mr. Hernández.
Her family calls her the “little rebel” due to her help for Mr. Petro, whom she stated she favors due to his insurance policies on training and earnings inequality.
“The youth is more inclined toward revolution,” she stated, “toward the left, toward a change.”