Nearly 450, 000 security forces will be deployed to maintain order on Sunday, as citizens cast their final vote for president in what have been “the most non-violent elections in 20-30 years,” announced Colombia’s Defense Minister on Thursday.
Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzon revealed details of Plan ‘Democracy,’ which will include the deployment of 246,000 military troops and police to 10,416 polling stations throughout the country, and an additional 191,000 in charge of maintaining public safety and protecting infrastructure.
“The electoral period this year has been an example for history, for Colombia and the world,” said the Minister. In both elections, in March and May, we had the safest processes in recent 20 or 30 years, and that should be a cause for appreciation and thanks to the military and police for their sacrifice, commitment, and effort as guarantors of democracy, freedom, rights and the Constitution. “
Pinzon also reiterated other measures in place to maintain security and prevent vote tampering, such as the restriction on the carrying of weapons, enforced between 6am Friday, June 13 and Wednesday June 18.
The second, and more controversial, is ‘ley seca’ or dry law, restricting alcohol consumption between 6 pm on Saturday June 14 and 6am Monday June 16.
However, likely in anticipation of Colombia’s opening World Cup game on Saturday morning, the national government has just given local officials the authority to make people dry up six hours earlier.
In his statement to the press, Minister Pinzon respectfully encouraged local authorities to push the dry law ahead to 6am on Saturday.
Past electoral violence
According to Pinzon, 438 violent incidents were recorded against the political and electoral sector during the elections of 1998, when the public elected Andres Pastrana into office.
309 incidents were recorded in 2002, when Alvaro Uribe was elected; 94 incidents in 2006 (Uribe’s re-election), and 70 in 2010, when Juan Manual Santos was elected. Only 19 violent incidents have been reported so far in the 2014 elections.
- Seguiremos teniendo las elecciones más seguras de la historia reciente: Mindefensa (press release, Ministry of Defense)