Colombia Elections 2022: A key politician in the Santos era will be in charge of Petro’s strategy in the debates | International
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Gustavo Petro has found in the sainthood to one of his most important advisers ahead of the 52 days of campaigning that remain until the first round of the elections. Alfonso Prada, a close collaborator of Juan Manuel Santos, the president who signed the peace agreement with the FARC, will be his new head of debate. He will be in charge of deciding which ones he attends, of the argumentative articulation and will coordinate -and surely this is the most important point- the response to the attacks of his opponents to minimize the fear that Petro still provokes in some sectors of the population due to his past in the M-19 guerrillas.
“They do not sell me the story that it is a leap into the void. Gustavo has contributed to peace in Colombia with his entire life, he gave everything for social justice, ”said Prada during his public presentation. “They say that the businessmen are going to leave, that they are going to stay for 20 or 30 years, that we are not going to remove them. During the signing of the peace agreement they said that we were going to hand over the country to Timochenko (last commander in chief of the FARC) so that he would be president of Colombia. At the tip of those stories they deceived the country with the plebiscite”. The ‘no’ then won by a narrow margin in a citizen consultation, so a new agreement that included some objections from the opponents had to be ratified by Congress in 2016. The guerrilla demobilized and entered politics, but Colombia was divided .
Santos was succeeded by Iván Duque, from Álvaro Uribe’s party, the main opposition figure. Duque as president has not been very enthusiastic about applying the agreement reached with the guerrillas. The new signing of Petro assures joining this campaign to go back four years in time and truly continue the route designed by Santos, who later won the Nobel Peace Prize. Prada and Petro have argued in the past over some issues and each belonged to a different party. However, both have insisted that this is a virtue rather than a defect. In that sense, Colombian politics is not very rigid, unexpected alliances are created. Recently, fellow candidate Ingrid Betancourt surprised everyone by approaching Uribe.
However, from the right and center Prada has come under fire for supporting Petro. They consider it a turning point in his political trajectory. “Why Prada there? They tell me. I tell them that I am here to open a path towards peace and social justice”, says the new adviser, who had been retired from politics for three years. He has faced accusations for alleged cases of corruption in the Seine, the last public body he directed, dedicated to employment. The prosecution has found no direct evidence to incriminate him. At the height of his heyday, he headed the secretariat of the presidency, for which he is considered a very close collaborator of Santos.
For Francia Márquez, Petro’s presidential formula, the incorporation of Prada means returning to the path of dialogue in a future presidency. “This government has shattered the peace and has condemned our communities to live in violence. Changing that is our biggest challenge,” she added. Petro has not avoided that he has had discussions with who will now be one of his closest advisers, but he assures that both have met “in peace”. Prada arrives accompanied by other politicians from the Liberal Party, the U Party and Cambio Radical. Without strong alliances that drive him to win in the first round and settle the fate of the country, Petro adds small alliances and names that open the door to a majority in Colombia.
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