The two candidates competing to change into Colombia’s subsequent president — Gustavo Petro, a leftist and a former rebel, and Rodolfo Hernández, a rich businessman — aren’t identified for pulling punches.
Mr. Petro, a very long time senator, has risen via the political ranks as an aggressive voice railing in opposition to the proper and the political elite. Mr. Hernández has quickly gained traction along with his unvarnished approach of talking and common TikTok movies.
But with polls exhibiting a good race the candidates have engaged in an intense mudslinging marketing campaign of non-public assaults, rumors, accusations and in stoking controversies for political acquire.
Colombians “have a history of polarization, but in this final stretch of the campaign, it has gotten even harsher and dirtier,” mentioned Daniel García-Peña, a political analyst.
Mr. Petro has lengthy been criticized for his previous membership in the M-19 guerrilla group and for a few of his stumbles as mayor of Bogotá.
A more moderen scandal that has drawn consideration includes movies surreptitiously recorded early in the presidential election and leaked to the information media exhibiting members of Mr. Petro’s marketing campaign discussing easy methods to smear opponents.
Mr. Petro isn’t heard talking on digital camera and Mr. Hernández isn’t talked about — at the time, he was not but thought of a severe contender.
Still, Mr. Hernández, who was in Miami at the time the movies grew to become public, cited them to declare that he feared for his security and wouldn’t return to Colombia till after the vote.
“Petro and the politicians surrounding him demonstrated that they are a criminal gang without limits,” he mentioned. “At this moment, I am certain that my life is at risk. It’s clear that anything could happen, even the most serious thing.”
Nevertheless, he returned to Colombia a couple of days later.
Mr. Petro claimed that the secretly recorded movies had been unlawful and on Twitter mentioned that if he was discovered to have dedicated a single crime “I am willing to give up my campaign.”
For his half Mr. Hernández has come beneath scrutiny for selling an anti-corruption message at the identical time he stands indicted on political corruption expenses associated to his time as mayor of Bucaramanga, a midsize metropolis, north of Bogotá, the capital.
Mr. Hernández is accused of pushing officers to award a profitable contract to a selected firm that would offer a monetary profit for his son.
Mr. Hernández, whose trial is scheduled to start July 21, has proclaimed his innocence. “I didn’t steal anything,” he advised The Times.
Mr. Petro has used the case to answer accusations from Mr. Hernández that he ran a corrupt authorities when Mr. Petro was mayor of Bogotá. “No criminal investigation against me has ever prospered,’’ Mr. Petro said on Twitter. “It’s you who’s being charged with corruption by judges.”
The volley of accusations and controversies swirling round the election might additional erode voters religion in their authorities, Mr. García-Peña mentioned.
A ballot in May by the Spanish newspaper El País confirmed that simply 17 % of Colombians mentioned they had been proud of the state of democracy in their nation.
“It’s a turbulent moment, a complicated moment,’’ Mr. García-Peña said, “where these levels of aggression that have defined the campaign will surely continue on in the next government.”