With 98.40% of the votes counted, Liberal Party candidate Jorge Homero Giraldo received 32.62% with 441,303 votes, while Hector Fabio Useche from the “Inclusion and Opportunities Movement” — or MIO Party — received 446,810 votes, which represents 33.02%.
The delay to count the votes in this photo-finish has the Liberal Party demanding answers.
“We fear that Valle del Cauca was happening the same as in the last elections of Congress, when they reported surprising and inexplicable results, so we will ask they recount vote by vote,” said Rafael Pardo Rueda, the head of the Liberal Party.
“The delay in counting in that department is inexplicable, compared to the rate at which the counting was done in other parts of the country,” the Liberal Party said in a press release.
The controversy of Useche extends beyond his incredibly close win. Backed by the MIO Party, Useche was also heavily supported by one of the most notorious parapoliticians in Colombia, former Senator Juan Carlos Martinez.
Martinez, who is currently serving a 7.5-year sentence in Barranquilla for his ties to the umbrella paramilitary organization AUC, endorsed hundreds of candidates for mayor, governor, and councilor across the country.
According to newspaper El Pais, the former parapolitician saw his power decline Sunday, with only two of his endorsed candidates winning the governorships in the Valle del Cauca and Casanare departments. Martinez’s MIO Party and the closely affiliated PIN Party only won six of the Valle del Cauca’s 42 mayorships, making his influence the third strongest political force in the region behind the Conservative and U Parties.