Colombia: Opposition Democratic Center Party Shortlists Candidates for 2018 Elections
On May 6 the political party Centro Democratico, headed by senator and former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez presented its presidential candidates for the year 2018.
In its second convention, the party expressed commitment to build a coalition in the run-up to the 2018 elections. In turn, a new National Directorate and a new Ethics, Discipline and Transparency Committee were agreed upon.
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“First of all, I send a greeting from ex-president Andrés Pastrana…we have talked about the issue of building that coalition,” Uribe said.
According to Senator Uribe the rules will be formulated by the candidates themselves through meetings and follow-up, in order to select the candidate who represents the most credible path to victory.
“The best rule to choose the candidate for the presidency of the republic is to give the candidates themselves control over the process; we will be in permanent meetings with them to reach a consensus on the procedure that will define our standard bearer,” said Uribe.
Carlos Holmes, Rafael Nieto, Iván Duque, and María del Rosario Guerra are the four confirmed candidates, while the controversial senator Paloma Valencia made an emotional speech affirming that she is still considering her candidacy.
Guerra was one of the first to speak, and commented on the work done by the political party, highlighting the problems that the country currently has, and how the proposals of Centro Democratico can confront those problems.
“The Democratic Center has already begun to reinvent politics, we did it with the closed lists, the plebiscite, the citizen marches, with the constructive progress we have made in Congress….But in this difficult juncture we will demand the reinvention of party politics, which will be undertaken through bold new thinking,” she said.
Holmes asserted that President Juan Manuel Santos during his tenure betrayed Colombia, “castrated democracy” and, therefore, wants to impose a government program.
According to Holmes, Santos “will leave Colombia without a constitution, with a government that collaborates with terrorism, without controls for waste and corruption, with a justice process that will be a political tribunal revenge. Here we can say that he left his country directionless and aimless.”
On the other hand, Rafael Nieto stated that it should be remembered that the Colombian people voted NO in the plebiscite carried out under the auspices of the Santos-FARC Agreement, further highlighting the need to ensure that the victims are at the center of debate, and are not being manipulated by the Santos government. “No to the progressive demands on these issues, we will defend life and family values,” he said.
Current Senator Ivan Duque pointed out that the indignation in Colombia must become a means to transform the country.
“Today Colombians are clearly outraged. It is unworthy that justice has been relativized and that today the most vulgar criminals in our history, have manipulated the justice process and designed it to accommodate their claims of impunity.”
Finally, Senator Paloma Valencia delivered an energetic speech in the midst of applause and praise from the public attending the event.
“Álvaro Uribe appeared as a light that inspired millions of Colombians and you inspired in me the love for this country and the certainty that Colombia can be more. Because you with your work and leadership have shown to this country that you can make the changes and that it takes only a strong hand to fight the violent, the corrupt to defeat the machinery, and a big heart to love Colombia. Viva Álvaro Uribe, viva the Democratic Center.”
Paloma Valencia, said that he has all the skills and “clean hands” to handle the treasury and that if he had the candidacy for 2018 “she would try to speak to our dissidents in the soft voice that I have reserved for my daughter because I believe that this country in 2018 needs a presidency, not of uribismo, but a presidency for Colombia.”
Meanwhile, through his Twitter account, the leader of the FARC group, Ricardo Téllez, alias ‘Rodrigo Granda’, deemed adversaries the candidates for the Democratic Center to the Presidency and said that “it is an excellent means to define adversaries who seek to repeal the Havana Agreement.”