The mayoral election in Cali, Colombia’s third largest city, have turned ugly after the front runner announced a hunger strike citing a conspiracy between his rival, local media and the prosecution.
Centrist coalition candidate Jorge Ivan Ospina announced his hunger strike on Thursday after the prosecution called him in for questioning over alleged corruption when he was mayor between 2008 and 2011.
Since then, Ospina has turned his hunger strike into a full-blown campaign event to amplify his claims that he is the victim of a dirty campaign of his opponent, local gambling czar Roberto Ortiz, local newspaper El Pais and the prosecution.
Voter intention in Cali
Ortiz is playing dirty alright
It is true that the campaign of Ortiz, the candidate of the far-right Democratic Center party, has used both social media and El Pais to spread disinformation about his rival.
In a full-page ad published in El Pais, the gambling czar accused his rival of being an ally of FARC dissidents, promoting drug use and being a member of the “extreme left.”
Political news website La Silla Vacia reported about the dirty campaign techniques of Ortiz’ campaign manager, Guillermo Lombana, in April.
Ironically, Ospina knows this better than anyone; he hired Lombana to run his successful 2007 campaign.
But Ospina is no better
Ospina’s claim that he is the victim of a coordinated smear campaign that involves his rival, the city’s establishment, the prosecution and newspaper El Pais is distorting the truth.
The candidate’s pretence that he is the anti-establishment candidate in the election is false; he is supported by some of the most powerful clans in the Valle del Cauca province, including that of by governor Dilia Francisca Toro.
Ospina’s claim that the prosecution’s decision to call him in for questioning is part of this establishment’s attempt is not based on any evidence. Prosecutors announced the criminal investigation in July already and appear to simply do their job.
El Pais’ decision to publish a full-page ad in which Ortiz’ campaign made all kinds of outlandish accusations is questionable, but the paper’s newsroom appears to also have simply done their job.
The sad truth for Cali’s residents is that their city’s political system is notoriously corrupt and that the candidates taking part in the mayoral election race are dishonest.