Health and education were key topics in Wednesday night’s debate between Colombia’s two vice-presidential candidates, a week and a half before the final round of presidential elections, reported national media.
U Party running mate for incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos, German Vargas Lleras and Democratic Center (Centro Democrático – CD) running mate for Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, Carlos Holmes Trujillo debated their candidates’ proposals over education, health, housing, infrastructure and sports, reported Colombia’s Caracol Radio.
Differences between the two candidates focused on Vargas Lleras stating what had already been done in the first term of his candidates’ presidency, while Holmes Trujillo declared more needed to be done, or most progress made by the Santos administration was thanks to plans developed under the direction of Alvaro Uribe, former president and leader of the CD.
The debate with regards to education centered primarily on the CD’s plan to make Colombia a bilingual country, and to take care of the poorest classes of children. Vargas Lleras emphasized the gains made under the Santos administration, especially with regards to technical jobs, where he claimed 400,000 have been created.
Health, one of the more contentious issues discussed in the debate, found itself in the same state as the other topics, Vargas Lleras discussing advances made under the Santos administration, while Holmes Trujillo stated that “political will and capacity as an administrator was necessary to reform health.”
The debate over infrastructure centered on the corruption involved with creating new structures, as both candidates claimed that all advancements in corruption were thanks to either Alvaro Uribe or Juan Manuel Santos, depending on the candidate. Vargas Lleras recognized that only four percent of secondary and tertiary roads in Colombia were paved, and differed himself from Zuluaga, who plans on giving money to municipalities to fix roads, rather than making a national investment in infrastructure.
With regards to housing, Vargas Lleras emphasized his stint as housing minister where over 100,000 new living spaces were given out for free. Vargas Lleras promised to continue and deepen the program to reach a goal of 300,000 new homes.
Sport, the last topic discussed on Wednesday’s debate, centered on a controversy stating that Vargas Lleras and Holmes Trujillo took advantage of Colombian cyclist Nairo Quintana’s victory in the 2014 Giro d’Italia for political benefit. Vargas Lleras claimed that recent success is thanks to investment in sporting programs by the Santos administration. Holmes Trujillo stated that sporting figures should be lauded and promoted through state policies and private support.
The first round of elections
Since no candidate garnered at least 50% of the total vote in the first round of elections, a second round is mandated by law to determine the next president.
In the first round of elections, the only televised vice-presidential debate was attended by Patriotic Union/Alternative Democratic Pole running-mate Aida Avella, forcing her to do a monologue rather than debate issues with the other candidates who did not show. Vargas Lleras never confirmed that he would attend, while Holmes Trujillo stated he would attend, but failed to appear.
The first presidential debate between U Party candidate and incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos, and CD candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga will be held at 9pm on Thursday.