In Bucaramanga, the predictions came true, and Jaime Andrés Beltrán, known as the “Bukele” of Santander, emerged victorious in the local elections this Sunday. Beltrán will be the next mayor of the capital of the Santander department, supported by a right-wing alliance of political parties: Colombia Justa Libres, Partido de la U, and Salvación Nacional. With 34% of the votes, the mayor-elect doubled the votes of his opponent Carlos Parra, who ultimately finished in second place.
Security was a prominent issue in these regional elections in Colombia. Citizens across the country have challenged the candidates, concerned about the alarming rise in crime plaguing cities and towns. Bucaramanga, the fifth most populous city in Colombia, was no exception. Traditionally conservative, the capital of Santander chose Beltrán’s tough stance against crime, drawing comparisons with the President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, for his firmness against criminal groups.
Iron Fist in Bucaramanga
Jaime Andrés Beltrán is 40 years old, a pastor, and is married to the journalist Paula Andrea Ramírez, with whom he has three children. Among his controversial proposals is “decisive action, from migratory control to the construction of a Temporary Detention Center for Non-Convicts,” which has not been without criticism from political opponents and local human rights organizations.
The future mayor of Santander’s capital shared his happiness with his supporters. “My heart is bursting with happiness and gratitude. The era of security and greatness begins,” wrote the mayor-elect of Bucaramanga.
The future mayor struck a conciliatory tone in his speech after his victory was announced. Surrounded by his supporters, acknowledging his opponents, he defended the “diversity of Bucaramanga.”
Beltrán has taken the initial steps in shaping his local government, extending an olive branch to his opponents. “In the coming days, I will convene a working group with all the other candidates to work together with ideas in the new city government. More than an invitation from the mayor-elect, it’s a call from all Bumangueses: we must unite for our city,” wrote Beltrán on his social media.
The new leader, who will take office on January 1, 2024, received congratulations from the current mayor of Bucaramanga, Juan Carlos Cárdenas. The current mayor has shown his readiness to work hand in hand with his successor from tomorrow to prepare for the transition between both governments, announced the office of Cardenas.