Colombia’s leftist presidential candidate Gustavo Petro is no longer just opposed by establishment politicians and conservatives. Former allies and centrist candidates have also turned on him.
The leftist candidate’s closest ally, former Santa Marta Mayor Carlos Caicedo, abandoned Petro on Tuesday. According to Caicedo, Petro refuses to consider his policy proposals.
The two formed a coalition and competed for the candidacy until primaries earlier this month. Petro won the internal contest to lead the leftists to the May 27 presidential election.
“The team we mobilized was treated with the greatest indifference and disrespect,” the former Santa Marta mayor said in a statement published on Twitter.
Caicedo is the latest in a series of candidates who have expressed criticism over Petro’s failure to team up with other candidates to defeat Ivan Duque, the candidate endorsed by controversial former President Alvaro Uribe.
Duque is widely expected to defeat Petro in spite of the social democrat’s ability to draw huge crowds with his reformist and fiercely anti-establishment rhetoric.
Uribe and German Vargas, who is also vying for the conservative vote, have claimed Petro is a communist whose election could “turn Colombia in a second Venezuela.”
Fajardo and De la Calle have distanced themselves from polarization, but have criticized Petro’s failure to make compromises or consider a moderate coalition.
“Egos are blind. His advisers won’t show him that it is important to include other sectors,” Caicedo told Blu Radio.
His withdrawal from the coalition is a major blow for Petro, who is left isolated. Political analysts have said the chances of him winning the elections are small.
Petro has sought direct confrontations with allegedly corrupt establishment politicians like Uribe and Vargas. The centrist parties have sought a more conciliatory tone between the left and the right.
Many Colombians disapprove of Petro’s past in the M-19 guerrilla group and have been alarmed by a massive influx of refugees from the socialist-run Venezuela.
The elections are the first since the demobilization of the extreme-left FARC guerrilla group, which demobilized 14,000 people last year and will take receive 10 seats in Congress in July as part of a peace process.