Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos and Uribe-loyal candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga are being intentionally “polarized” to make it seem as if they are the only two options for 2014 while they support many of the same policies, says leftist candidate Clara Lopez.
In an interview with Colombia Reports, the candidate claimed that the government-controlled media manipulates reality by framing Santos and Zuluaga as stark political opposites.
Santos and Zuluaga
“There is an enormous effort in process to try to polarize the president and the candidate of ex-president Uribe as the only two options for the Colombian people,” Lopez asserted, “we are pointing out that they have very much more in common than they have differences.”
She explained that while Santos and Zuluaga go back and forth calling each other “traitors,” in reality, “they follow exactly the same politics.”
“The real options this coming election cycle are not between president Santos and ex-president Uribe’s candidate but between both of those options and the alternative that the Colombian people are searching for,” said the Polo Democratico leader.
Lopez concluded the subject saying that aside from the subject of ongoing peace talks with the rebel group, FARC, with either of the two candidates Colombia will get “more of the same.”
Con Presidente candidato confrontaremos dos opciones: mas de lo mismo o cambio social que de sustento a paz sostenible.
— Clara López Obregón (@ClaraLopezObre) November 21, 2013
Lopez, a former mayor of Bogota, said that her Polo Democratico party was making a strong effort to overcome all of these issues by utilizing social media and alternative ways of getting out their message.
“I think that we’re going to have great success trying to reach voters through alternative media, but of course it is harder and more expensive and the fact is that the government has not made media access available…they have monopolized [the media],” said Lopez.
Possible Leftist Coalition and Opposition Politics
Lopez hinted that there could be a left wing coalition forming in the future, though she maintained that nothing official had been decided yet. Leftist Union Patriotica presidential candidate Aida Avella told Colombia Reports that she had met with both Clara Lopez and the Progressive Movement’s presidential pre-candidate Antonio Navarro just recently in Bogota to discuss such a possibility.
“We are maintaining conversations with the staff of [Socialist candidate] Aida Avella. We have had a direct conversation with her and we will continue to hold talks to see if we can find agreements on several issues that would maybe facilitate–going in the context of the construction of the new majority–working together. But that’s still in the making, we don’t know if we will be able to find those agreements,” said Lopez.
Lopez expressed frustration at the continuation of the incumbent parties to shut out opposition voices from public dialogue citing problems with the election system and recent instances of wiretapping.
“We have a political electoral organization that is managed entirely by the majority coalition of the president’s party in congress. So we are at an enormous disadvantage,” explained Lopez.
The presidential hopeful said that “votes fabricated after the election” and malicious “political cronies of the president’s parties” still pose great risks for 2014’s March congressional elections and May presidential elections. She used a recent example of the Minister of Agriculture wiretapping a fellow party member in congress as proof of the risks facing opposition politicians.
“The president and the minsters have been [exhibiting] attitudes that we find go against the democratic guarantees of the public debate…[look at] the fact that our principle senator Jorge Robledo has been the victim of illegal wiretapping,” Lopez pointed out.
The political leader also demonstrated frustration at opposition parties’ exclusion from important issues such as the year-old peace talks with the FARC in Havana, Cuba. Lopez nor her party disagree with these dialogues–her only qualm is that all other political voices are shut out of the talks.
“[Peace talks are] not something that we disagree with, but we want to be included in the conversation,” she said.
Colombia’s presidential elections are scheduled for May 25, 2014.
- Interview with Clara Lopez