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Pre-Election Environment in Colombia

Colombia will be having presidential and legislative elections during the first semester of this year. Senate and the Chamber of Representatives will be elected in two weeks, on March 13. The first round of the presidential elections will be on May 29th and the second round will be held on June 19th.

The ELN has announced an armed strike over the whole country. While armed strikes have historically been common this time of year, the current armed strike is a demonstration of the impact this irregular group can have on day-to-day life in Colombia. ELN has several anniversaries that take place along the month of February, additionally, this year the actions are part of a campaign that they call Farewell to Duque, as the current president will end his period on August 7th. These armed strikes generally bring terrorist attacks of different types and roadblocks that take place in different regions of the country but seldom in the main cities. The threat of attacks against the private sector is considered to be low at this time, while attacks on armed forces, infrastructure and government institutions are more likely.

Politically speaking, there is great uncertainty. At the moment there are many aspiring candidates and one that had led the polls for the past year, Gustavo Petro, a former member of the guerrilla called M-19 with a clear leftist discourse. After the elections for congress, where internal consultations of the different parties will take place, are held, the picture will begin to be clearer as the array of candidates will be much smaller.

There are several coalitions of different political tendencies with the center being what people desire the most as the country has been living in a polarized environment for several years where the left and the right are continuously blaming each other for the different problems that affect the country.

The possibility of having a leftist party in the government has brought a great deal of uneasiness amongst the common citizen and the Colombian private sector, as the experience of leftist governments in the region has been a disaster. The economies of Venezuela and Argentina have been brought to the ground after being two of the top economies of the region.

It is important that companies planning to have their employees travel to the country and within the country, be informed of the different incidents and maintain a high level of alertness. Avoiding large reunions of people is critical.