Rodolfo Hernández: The 76-year-old ‘millennial’ who wants to govern Colombia | Opinion


Presidential candidate Rodolfo Hernández, in a file photo.
Presidential candidate Rodolfo Hernández, in a file photo.RR.SS.

If I were Gustavo Petro, the candidate who is leading the presidential polls in Colombia, I would already be looking with some concern at the rise in the polls of Rodolfo Hernández.

In Hernández everything is bizarre, to say the least. He does not like to be presented as a politician but as “the engineer Hernandez”, something unusual in Colombia where all the powerful are called “doctor”, even if they do not deserve it. Hernández, unlike the other candidates, is a wealthy engineer. He amassed his fortune a long time ago in the construction world, a condition that allowed him to enter politics through an independent movement without the support of the political clans that co-opt everything and without waiting to receive the blessing of some former president.

His first step in politics was as mayor, like Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, who before becoming president was mayor of San Salvador. In 2016, Hernández was elected mayor of Bucaramanga, a city in the northeast of the country, on the border with Venezuela. Although he immediately became a national figure for his media scandals, Hernández managed to clean up the coffers of that city.

Since he launched his presidential campaign, he has been surprised by the great handling of the networks and, like Bukele, he has settled on them to come back. And he is achieving it.

To say that Hernández is a copy of Bukele would be an exaggeration. It would be more accurate to say that we are facing a candidate without mold, difficult to decipher, who has us all very confused.

While Petro gets on the platforms, fills the squares of the cities of Colombia and opens headquarters for his campaign everywhere, Hernández has managed to be the second candidate with the highest presence in the polls without having left his home. That was not done by Bukele, who had to mix the public square with Twitter.

Since he launched his candidacy in August 2021, he has not made a single public statement; It also has no headquarters or campaign manager. His electoral fort is his followers on the networks. His TikTok account with 258,000 followers and about 1,800,000 likes, surpasses that of Gustavo Petro, who only has 21,900 followers and 110,500 likes. According to electoral measurements, his digital campaign has been so convincing that nearly one in three Colombians who watch his videos on TikTok are hooked. At 76 years old, he is the candidate who has increased the most in voting intentions and the only one who has increased his favorable image while those of the others decrease.

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At the beginning of the campaign, his critics said that Hernández was Petro’s great ally, but they were not right either. The suspicions began because Hernández has always avoided any public confrontation with Petro and vice versa. The engineer maintains that he has had lunch at least five times with Gustavo Petro, but that they have never sealed any agreement.

His way of talking about corruption and his insistence on showing himself to be a candidate of the people despite the fact that he is a millionaire, added to the promise that if he comes to power he will strengthen the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, the court of justice The transitional campaign that was created after the signing of the peace accords has made many left-wing intellectuals, such as the writer William Ospina, consider him the candidate who best interprets Colombia’s desire for change.

However, there are others who say the opposite and assure that Hernández is our new Trump and the real rooster. cover up of Uribe. To strengthen this thesis, they bring up not only his authoritarian temperament and his macho and derogatory phrases, but also an interview that the engineer gave a few years ago in which he says that he has always “admired a German thinker called Hitler”. Hernandez has tried to say that it was a lapsus linguae and that he was confused with Einstein. However, considering Hitler and Einstein as two great philosophers without saying what they really were, what shows is that more than a candidate of the extreme right, Hernández is an uneducated millionaire and demagogue.

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Hernandez is not really the rooster cover up no one but himself. Behind the engineer there is only the candidate and his ambition for power. And don’t waste time looking for the ideology because it doesn’t have it either. For him, politics is one more business that is measured by costs and benefits.

Hernández has made politics a big business. His videos on TikTok have made him an idol among taxi drivers, bank employees, and supermarket attendants. With the direct and caustic manner in which he assures that if he is elected president he will take power away from the corrupt and return it to the people, he is appropriating the banner of the fight against corruption.

People identify so much with what he says that they even forgive him for all his outings. You can afford to make misogynistic and sexist comments that would end any campaign, without taking a toll on you. Some time ago he compared a candidate for mayor of Bucaramanga who had walked through all the parties with the prostitutes of a port on the Magdalena River and said that “he was a more groped candidate than the prostitutes of Puerto Wilches.”

His recipe is so obvious that it is even inane: he calls things by their name. The engineer is a horny man like Colombians from the department of Santander. That is to say, he speaks from the front, without washers, in a crude way and without gilding the pill. In a country where the language of power imposed the euphemism to cover up reality, – the murders of civilians at the hands of the military during the Uribe government were called “false positives” and President Duque himself decided that the massacres had to be tell them “collective homicides” – a candidate like Rodolfo, who says things by name, has turned out to be quite a novelty. That’s how bad we are in Macondo.

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However, it is one thing to be a horny Santanderean and another is to legitimize violence when the block is skipped and things get out of hand. That happened to Rodolfo Hernández when he was mayor of Bucaramanga and he appeared in a video insulting a councilman who ended up hitting him on the head. When asked if he had not gone too far in his anger, he responded by saying that the reason for his anger was because the councilman had come to ask for a bribe. “People didn’t blame me that I had gone too far when hitting the councilman because they understood that I was hitting a corrupt man on the head,” was the answer he gave me recently in an interview.

Hernández is not only licensed to give headbutts. He also has it to make a fool of himself. He has appeared on CNN in silk pajamas a la Hugh Hefner and in a TikTok video as Santa Claus. With each antics, his followers love him even more.

Hernández is the Hugh Hefner of digital politics, he is the Santa Claus who protects us and also the vigilante who says who are the corrupt that must be removed from Eden. That’s how people see it.

Batteries with this candidate. He knows that politics stopped being done a long time ago in the squares and on the platforms and that a large part of those emotions have been transferred to the world of networks. The engineer is today not only the king of TikTok but the owner of emotion.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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