Colombia’s government warned on Saturday about the dangers of polarization ahead of elections after two campaign events turned violent. Key candidates, however, failed to follow up.
The situation ahead of the May 27 elections became even more alarming after an alleged assassination attempt on leftist candidate Gustavo Petro in Cucuta.
President Juan Manuel Santos reiterated his call to “let political campaigns take place with the respect for differences and without aggression, and of course without violence.”
Interior Minister Guillermo Rivera urged to “not let the climate of polarization be a prelude to what happened in the last century” when the country’s politics saw multiple political assassinations.
“We have asked all the political leaders, without exception, to come out and reject any kind of action, aggression or sabotage against any candidate,” the minister told W Radio.
Moderate reject violence
Some of the leading candidates followed up accordingly.
“Gustavo Petro and Alvaro Uribe play a fundamental role in Colombia’s democracy. We must take care of them. We must take care of the country,” centrist candidate Sergio Fajardo said on Twitter.
Former Vice-President German Vargas expressed his “absolute and resounding rejection of the acts of violence” in both Cucuta and Popayan.
“No type of violent manifestation is part of democracy. NONE. We cannot allow that these elections become an excuse for those who want to use violence,” Liberal Party candidate Humberto de la Calle said.
Petro and Uribe fail
The campaigns that had been attacked, however, failed to urge their followers to refrain from aggression.
Petro failed to reject the violence at the campaign event of his political rival in Popayan.
The Prosecutor General’s Office announced a criminal investigation into the disturbances in both cities and said that the security measures for all candidates have been increased.