ColombiaOne.comBusinessColombian Presidential Candidate Rodolfo Hernandez Questions Petro's Legitimacy

Colombian Presidential Candidate Rodolfo Hernandez Questions Petro’s Legitimacy


Rodolfo Hernandez Petro
Rodolfo Hernandez, former presidential candidate, has questioned the legitimacy of the election of Gustavo Petro Credit: Twitter/Senate of the Republic

The former presidential candidate in the 2022 elections, Rodolfo Hernandez, has criticized the election process that propelled his opponent, Gustavo Petro, to the presidency of the country. The revelations made by the son of the Colombian president, Nicolas Petro, continue to provide ammunition to the opposition against the president. Hernández has described the electoral process as “manipulated”.

Aspirant for the Governorship of Santander

The veteran politician from Santander is aspiring to the Governorship of his department in the upcoming regional elections next month. In the midst of his campaign, Rodolfo has not missed the far-reaching political controversy of recent weeks. In a video he uploaded to his social media, the 78-year-old engineer states that the process from which he was defeated was an election that “ended up being manipulated by dark interests.”

Rodolfo Hernandez resigned from his seat in the Senate just 3 months after taking office. It was a position he was entitled to as the loser of the presidential runoff. However, his time in Congress was merely a footnote, and Hernandez left his post. The former senator recently said that his ability is “executive and not that of giving speeches,” justifying his resignation.

Today, he is the favorite in the election for the position of governor in his homeland, Santander. Hernandez was previously the mayor of the capital, Bucaramanga (2016-2019). His tenure in the country’s fifth-largest city was marked by several controversies. In 2018, he was suspended for 3 months by a judge for assaulting a councilman, Jhon Claro. Shortly thereafter, he faced a second suspension for engaging in politics while serving as mayor, something prohibited by law in Colombia. Finally, Hernandez resigned from the mayoral position in September 2019.

Disqualified due to the Vitalogic Verdict

The politician has a judicial sentence against him that, in its first instance, disqualifies him from holding public office for 14 years. Although the verdict is not final, the shadow of this case threatens the present and, above all, the political future of the former presidential candidate.

Vitalogic is a corruption case involving the awarding of a contract, dating back to the time when Hernandez was mayor of Bucaramanga in 2016. According to the 2022 judicial ruling, Hernández abused his position to favor a company with which his son had arranged a commission. Ultimately, the Vitalogic project for the collection and treatment of Bucaramanga’s waste never materialized.

Rodolfo Hernandez Petro
The scandal over the garbage in Bucaramanga calls into question the political future of Hernández – Credit: Web EMAB.

A Year of Silence

When Rodolfo Hernández resigned from his position in the Senate, he also relinquished the role of being the voice of the country’s opposition. Since then, silence has been his response to questions about national public life, until today. When questioned about his decision to remain silent, he indicated that “sometimes silence is the best answer.”

“I was clear that I would win the presidency. The mathematics were clear, Petro had a ceiling,” Hernández said in the video released on his social media. However, the most forceful part of the recording is when the engineer speaks, for the first time, about electoral corruption. “What I didn’t anticipate is the last-minute manipulation that the corrupt people of Colombia would do,” he said, referring to his defeat by just over 600,000 votes in the runoff.

During the presidential campaign last year, the current aspirant for the governorship was questioned due to statements he made about women, which many deemed sexist. Nor did statements about the Virgin and prostitutes help him; they offended a portion of the population that could have been faithful to him electorally. The then-presidential candidate ended up posting a video apologizing for those remarks.

Claims of Death Threats

Rodolfo Hernández claims he received death threats during last year’s presidential campaign. “I think I lacked the courage that Luis Carlos Galan had. Or that Jaime Garzon had. Or that Gaitan had. Thanks to that, I’m alive. In the last two weeks, my family and I had to lock ourselves in,” the politician said, drawing parallels with well-known figures in Colombia’s history of martyrdom.

Rodolfo Hernandez Petro
Rodolfo Hernandez in one of his few performances as a senator, in October 2022 – Credit: Twitter/Liga de Gobernantes Anticorrupción.

Analysis from an Electoral Perspective

Hernández continues to champion his fight against “politics as usual.” He accuses the country’s traditional politicians of choosing Petro, regardless of his ideology, because “they prefer someone they can negotiate with.” He claims to be the winner of those elections because his campaign, he says, was clean and consistent with his fight against party machinery and corruption.

He also questions why some of the prominent names from his region, citing Richard and Mauricio Aguilar or Didier Tavera, did not support his election. “Santander must be proud, because we were a strong majority that voted for real change,” he said about the presidential campaign.

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