Piling evidence of fraud forces me to dispute Ivan Duque‘s claim he legitimately won Colombia’s 2018 elections until after a credible investigation by a special prosecutor.
I sadly acknowledge the gravity of not recognizing the election outcome, but I am applying even stricter rules than those I applied to Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro whose 2019 re-election I also consider illegitimate.
Colombia increasingly shows the characteristics of a mafia state instead of a “flawed democracy,” especially after evidence of mafia intervention in the elections and the security forces’ collusion with narcos.
I am not saying that runner up Gustavo Petro is the president of Colombia, because I do not know, I am not a political scientist or an expert in constitutional law.
All I know is that the evidence of fraud is so overwhelming and compelling that I can no longer confirm Duque’s claim he is the legitimate president of a democratic republic without betraying my principles.
Evidence and reports of fraud have existed since 2018, but were never investigated by the National Registrar, the National Electoral Council or the Prosecutor General’s Office, which in itself would constitute criminal neglect.
Recent claims and corroborating evidence that Duque was personally involved in election fraud must be investigated and, if proven true, punished. If proven false, I will gladly recognize the legitimacy of the current administration.
Evidence of fraud
Colombia’s State Council ruled in February 2018 that the 2014 congressional elections were rigged through the hacking of the National registry’s computer system. The National Registrar did not patch this “bug” before the presidential election, according to the the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE).
The MOE additionally found the following irregularities in the presidential election, and I quote:
- Citizens who went to the municipal registries to register their identity card and found that it had already been registered somewhere else.
- Political campaigns moved dozens of people from one municipality to another to register their identity cards. It was also usual to transfer Venezuelan citizens to Colombian territory. Normally, false addresses were used to carry out the conduct and money was paid.
- Consulates never warned about the dates of registration of identity cards in their countries of residence and, consequently, multiple citizens could not register.
- The Registry’s website contained erroneous information about citizens’ voting stations.
- Promise trips, football tickets and other benefits by number of signatures collected.
- Giving citizens cash in exchange for their signature ($1,000) or their vote ($13,000 to $50,000).
- Offering of gifts (lunches, redeemable bonds, senior citizen benefits, among others) for signing, voting, or attending signature gathering or political campaign events.
- Payment of money to social and neighborhood leaders per “recruited” voter.
- Provision of holidays, rest days and other employment benefits, by private sector companies, if a specific candidate won the first round.
- Residential complexes that promised citizens to participate in raffles of household appliances if they proved they had voted for a certain candidate.
- Transfer of citizens in buses and taxis to the voting stations and delivery of lunches or money in exchange for the vote.
- Transfer of Venezuelan citizens with Colombian identity cards to national territory, in order to vote for a given candidate, in exchange for gifts or money.
- Photocopies of marked ballots.
- Delivery of previously marked ballots.
- Conditioning, by the companies, of the continuity of the work contracts of their employees to force them to consign signatures or votes in favor of a certain candidate. Reports were even received in which owners or managers threatened to close down the companies or move to other countries, in case a candidate other than the one they preferred won.
- Officials threatened public employees with contract termination or non-renewal if they fail to obtain a minimum number of signatures, votes or attendance at a candidate’s campaign events.
- Public officials conditioned the contracting with the municipality or department, so that the contracting companies get signatures or votes for a specific candidate.
- Companies and public institutions forced their workers to use political propaganda in their homes, cars and social networks (Facebook and WhatsApp profiles).
- Public institutions and private companies put pressure on their employees to attend political demonstrations during the working day. In many cases, candidates are invited to the premises of the institution or company to campaign.
- Vulnerable populations (elderly, indigenous, displaced) were threatened with the cancellation of subsidies if they do not vote for a specific candidate.
- Employees were pressured to express their voting intentions through internal company surveys. According to the reports, because the results gave a winner to a candidate who was not the management’s preference, a working day was scheduled on election days (first and second round) in order to prevent workers from going out to vote.
- Administration officials are forced to serve as election witnesses for certain political parties.
- Presence of public officials (specifically mayors) at polling stations, telling people who to vote for.
- City officials accompanied candidates in caravans, meetings and other campaign events. In addition, they invited candidates to official mayoral or gubernatorial activities.
- Meetings between officials (usually consultants) and contractors or leaders of the municipality to promote a particular candidate.
- Mayors, governors, municipal officials, councilmen and other officials shared videos, photos or messages on their social networks in order to campaign for specific candidates.
- Use of resources (financial and human), as well as materials from the municipal administrations, to produce and disseminate publicity material. In many places it was reported, for example, that city hall contractors were advertising door-to-door during working hours.
- Late night meetings between officials of the municipal registries and members of political campaigns.
- Use of money from public officials or city halls to pay for voter transportation.
- Advertising of candidates in the premises of town halls and other public institutions.
- Constant presence of public officials at the polling stations.
- At the polling stations, jurors were handing out two ballots to certain citizens.
- Voting juries handed out pre-marked ballots or unilaterally marked multiple ballots and placed them in the ballot box. According to the reports, this behavior occurred mainly when there were no election observers or witnesses.
- Citizens requested a ballot, marked it and returned it, pointing out that they had made a mistake. The jurors gave them a new card, but they did not destroy the one with the mistake. In the end, they put both cards in the ballot box.
- Voting juries allowed citizens to vote at tables where they were not registered.
- Citizens were not able to vote in the presidential elections because their identity card was registered at another polling station, municipality or country. These persons indicated that they never changed their place of residence, nor did they register their card. In addition, they were able to vote in the congressional elections, so the situation was very irregular.
- In the first round, during the week of overseas voting, it was reported that there were E-10 Forms (List of Voters) with consecutive identity card numbers, which was very unusual.
- Citizens came forward to vote but their identity cards were listed as being canceled due to death.
- In the first round of the presidential election, during the week of voting abroad, election witnesses disseminated through the networks E-14 forms with partial results from consulates and embassies. This fact generated controversy, as some campaigns pointed out that the circulation of these data could influence the voting intention.
- Candidates reported that the Registrar’s Office delivered the credentials of their election witnesses late (early in the morning of election day), incompletely (fewer badges were delivered than had been approved), erroneously (with wrong data), or to unauthorized persons.
- Election witnesses were prevented from entering the polling stations, despite the fact that they presented the respective credentials.
- Election witnesses wore political campaign buttons, T-shirts and caps inside the polling stations. It is necessary to establish the legality of this type of branding because, although strictly they are not election advertising, they can generate confrontations.
- Election witnesses were located in places that prevented the voters from voting by secret ballot. In other cases, they even accompanied citizens to the cubicle or told them who to vote for.
- Some witnesses were prevented by electoral or police authorities from monitoring the counting process at the polling station.
- Citizens were suspicious because the jurors selected for certain voting tables supported the same political party or belonged to a specific guild. Some campaigns alerted the Registrar’s Office to the lack of heterogeneity of the tables, also to multiple inconsistencies with the registered companies (they did not exist or did not have names).
- Voting jurors told voters who to vote for.
- During Election Day, jurors were absent from the polling stations, which caused some to operate with less than three jurors.
- Voting juries did not sign the electoral card, despite the request of the citizens.
- The jurors repeatedly made use of cell phones inside the booth.
- Jury tampering in some municipalities.
- Loss of citizens’ identity documents during the vote.
- Jurors handed out more than one ballot to voters.
- Some citizens pointed out that, during jury training, the Registrar’s Office gave instructions to add up the votes of one of the candidates – who had resigned their nomination – in favor of another candidate.
- Difficulties were reported in verifying the polling stations. For a few hours the Registrar’s page was down and in some places there were difficulties in checking the E-10.
- Open or poorly sealed ballot boxes were found at several polling stations.
- In Cartagena, some posts were disrupted because voters were demanding the use of biometrics.
- Tables of Justice were not functional in many polling stations.
- Voting juries did not require citizens to sign the E-11 form.
- Political parties spread political publicity for a candidate from a significant group of citizens, which could constitute dual activism.
- Primary candidates spread political propaganda without specifying this was the for the primary campaign and inter-party consultations.
- In social networks, candidates for the presidency published political propaganda, long before the regulatory times.
- Candidates used posters, signs, parades or fences in places where the municipalities had prohibited visual propaganda, for example, platforms, public squares or lighting poles.
- In the early morning of Election Day, campaigns distributed advertising under the doors of the houses of some municipalities.
- Several campaigns were proselytizing in and around the polling station, distributing propaganda and trying to influence the citizens’ vote.
- Election witnesses wore campaign buttons, T-shirts and hats.
- Presence of buses, vans or cars with political advertising near the polling stations.
- Use of public transport service (mainly taxis and motorbike taxis) to disseminate political propaganda.
- Text messages to citizens’ personal cell phones, promoting the campaign of a specific candidate.
- Calls to personal phones or cell phones in order to influence the vote of citizens in favor of a candidate.
- Political campaign text messages, informing citizens of their respective voting positions, that they have been selected as jurors or even as election witnesses for a given candidate.
- Personalized letters with advertising of candidates to owners in residential buildings.
- Sending of political propaganda to institutional e-mails of public entities.
- Significant groups of citizens lied about the reason for the collection of signatures, for example, it was pointed out that the signature was to lower the VAT or to remove the photo fines.
- Advertising that instills fear in the voters or supporters of a particular candidate.
- WhatsApp chains spreading false or misleading information about candidates’ proposals.
- Circulation through social networks of videos supposedly informative of the Registry, with false information about the electoral procedures; for example, that the first round vote was valid and sufficient for the second round.
- Members of a political organization were attacked with insults and beatings while campaigning.
- Criminal organizations knocked down power towers in some municipalities in the south of the country.
- Criminal organizations decreed a curfew during the first-round election weekend.
- Dissemination of leaflets with threats to the supporters of a given candidate.
- Difficulties on the part of some rural communities in reaching the polling stations, due to the presence and threats of criminal organizations as well as the rainy season.
- Irregularities in the way the numbers in E-14 were marked (usually dashes and zeros were used to transform the results).
- Citizens who had voted for certain candidates, but whose votes did not appear on Form E-14.
- In some municipalities, it was reported that some citizens tried to enter pre-marked electoral material.
Restoring democratic order and the rule of law
Without the effective application of the rule of law, Duque cannot claim he is legitimately presiding over the executive branch of a democratic republic, and his political party can’t credibly claim to be legitimate if there is evidence of at least three senators with ties to the now-defunct Medellin Cartel.
Only exhaustive scrutiny of the election results and an independent investigation into Duque’s alleged involvement in vote-buying can legitimize Colombia’s government and restore democratic order.
Until then, I have no other choice but to suspend my recognition of the legitimacy of the Duque administration. According to my definition, Duque has converted Colombia into a mafia state with dictatorial tendencies.