Ingrid Betancourt threatens to drop out of the presidential race with the Centro Esperanza Coalition just 10 days after announcing her candidacy. Politics has put the center coalition of which she is a part on the ropes by launching an ultimatum to the rest of the candidates this Thursday, demanding that they urgently pronounce themselves on corruption. “If the coalition does not make the decision to prohibit the support of people linked to machinery that leads to corruption and if the decision is not made tonight, with great pain, but with the commitment that I have with Colombians, I withdraw from the coalition”, he warned at a press conference called at the last minute.
His words come two days after the harsh clash he had with another of the pre-candidates of the center coalition, the former Minister of Health Alejandro Gaviria, during an electoral debate. Betancourt publicly showed his concern over the support the economist was receiving at Tuesday’s meeting. “I’m not going to let the wolves get where the sheep are,” he warned her. A reproach to which the aforementioned responded harshly, accusing her of “hypocrisy and opportunism” and of speaking with “moral superiority”.
The scuffle reopened a latent crisis in the center. The figure of Gaviria never had an easy fit in the coalition. His announcement to run for the presidency as an independent last August was accompanied by his intention to join the coalition, but the agreement was not easy. From that block, Sergio Fajardo, who has always led the center’s polls, confronted the former rector of the Universidad de los Andes for his closeness to former president César Gaviria, leader of the Liberal Party. Betancourt then served as a link and achieved an understanding among all the pre-candidates to attend together, although he always showed his closeness to Fajardo. Gaviria then made the decision to distance himself from the Liberal Party.
Tuesday’s debate reopened the wound around the economist and intellectual. Betancourt accuses him of receiving support for his candidacy from traditional politicians such as Miguel Ángel Pinto, of the Liberal Party, and Germán Varón Cotrino, of Cambio Radical. “I reject all the accusations, I am not a politician or patron. I have shown it over and over again, by example, with events in my life, as an educator first, as a civil servant and as an economist,” Gaviria said Wednesday to defend himself.
Politics avoided mentioning any names during her speech, but it was not necessary, everyone understood that she was addressing the academic. “The coalition must prohibit the support of people linked to machines that have led to corruption and who are unaware of the spirit of the coalition,” he said. Gaviria was at noon this Thursday on a visit to the reintegration space for ex-combatants in Tierragrata, a place in the north of the country, where he met with delegates from the extinct FARC guerrilla, today converted into a political party with representation in the Congress. So far, he has not commented on the words of his coalition partner.
The crisis once again cracks the options of the center, whose coalition has never finished starting, when there are barely four months left for the first round of the elections. Closer is March 13, the date on which the consultation will be held that will define the candidate for the presidency of this coalition. Betancourt’s candidacy has not yet had time to be measured in the polls. A survey by the firms Guarumo and EcoAnalítica released this Wednesday gave him 4.1% of the preferences, far behind Fajardo (41.6%), Alejandro Gaviria (22.1%) or Juan Manuel Galán (15.7%). ).
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The candidates gathered around the Hope Center Coalition had taken several months to agree to run together in the elections. The figure of Betancourt, when he had not yet shown his presidential aspirations, was key to achieving the union at the end of last year. His announcement to stand for election last Tuesday was greeted by the rest of the coalition’s candidates, who had been criticized for being all men. Now his ultimatum again places the coalition on the brink of a precipice.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.