Gamarra, a municipality in Colombia, will vote for its new mayor at Christmas, specifically next Sunday, December 24. This is after the last local elections, on October 29, resulted in the blank ballot winning, receiving more than 51% of the votes. Thus, the law establishes that when the winner is the blank ballot, the vote to elect the local president must be repeated.
Gamarra is a municipality of a little more than 15,000 inhabitants, located in the south of the department of Cesar, on the Atlantic coast of the country. It is also a fact that shortly before the voting last October, a group of rioters provoked strong disturbances that ended up with the burning of the municipal Registrar’s Office, a state organ which is part of the public bodies in charge of the electoral process, causing the death of one person.
The date, a whim of the legal times
The coincidence of the election day with Christmas Eve is, in fact, the result of chance. This is because the candidates had until November 12 to present their candidacies. According to the electoral law, once the deadline for the presentation of candidacies has closed, the election takes place 40 days later, that is, on December 24.
It is also the case, as stipulated in the legislation, that during the election day the dry law will be applied, so the sale and consumption of alcohol in public areas will be forbidden until Monday, December 25.
“We have confidence in God that the unfortunate events that occurred a few days ago will not be repeated. The community must have much more objective behavior and define their political differences at the polls”, expressed the current mayor of the municipality, Diomar Claro.
The candidates are new and Harry Rodríguez, the Conservative Party candidate who came second after the blank vote, is not running this time. His place will be occupied by Shirley Paola Franco Otálora, who will face the rest of the candidates: Sandra del Pilar Otálvarez Martínez, from the Historic Pact party; Dilzo Antonio Armesto Sampayo, from the National Salvation party; Celso Alfonso Arévalo del Real, from the Party of the U; and Cristian Leonardo Márquez Badillo, from the En Marcha party.
Justice will act after the elections
Likewise, the authorities have clarified that once the electoral process is over, the justice system will act against those responsible for the vandalism that ended with the burning of the local Registrar’s Office and the death of a civil servant. In this regard, last November 11, the police arrested 5 people allegedly involved in the deadly riot.
“Once the counting is concluded, the winners are declared and the respective credentials are delivered, I will file the corresponding criminal actions so that the perpetrators of the disturbances and attacks are identified, captured and prosecuted. We cannot allow the burning of ballot boxes and Registrar’s offices to go unpunished. I will lead the denunciations and I will be vigilant regarding the arrests,” said Alexander Vega, National Registrar of Colombia.