Tuesday, July 5

Federico Gutiérrez, the candidate for continuity?

Correspondent in Bogota



Fico, that’s what they call him at home Federico Gutierrez Zuluaga and this is how Colombians identify him today thanks to his vertiginous presidential campaign. And so he will continue to be known if he achieves this May 29 the ticket to the second round to compete against Gustavo Petrothe leftist candidate, the presidency of Colombia.

Fico smiles on billboards, hangs on car windows, moves on flyers or bumper stickers, and his ads regularly appear in traditional and social media. For the youngest candidate in these elections (Medellín, 1974) publicity as support for his campaigns and management accountability is not a new thing: he used it extensively as president and now in full campaign.

Although media and political consumption product, Fico does not stop there. He is a civil engineer from the University of Medellín and has two specializations: one in Political Science and the other in Senior Management. And the rest he has learned on the street, walking through the neighborhoods, seeking to meet people. That has been his hallmark in the four previous campaigns, two to the Medellin Council (2004 and 2011) and two more to the Mayor’s Office, of which he only achieved the 2016-2019 period.

Almost 20 years of political experience They have not been a minor school and Federico Gutiérrez has learned the lessons of public affairs, to move alliances and show independence. His candidacy comes from the right-wing interpartisan consultation and from there Fico has been able to add his rivals at the time and win the support of national political machines that he did not have due to his markedly regional profile, which is reflected in the polls.

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He speaks quickly and very paisa, that accent typical of the people of Antioquia. It ensures national unity, the will for peace and support for the Agreement, applying common sense to the challenges. He promises a policy of submission for the paramilitary Clan del Golfo and for the FARC dissidents. But he does not rule out a negotiation with the ELN guerrillas, only in a ceasefire scenario. All said with a firm tone, the same one that he raised during his management focused on security and that earned him the nickname ‘sheriff’. However, his promise of security for Medellin translated rising rates of homicide and urban violence, a trend that only broke in the last year of his term due to underhand agreements between his security secretary and the so-called Oficina de Envigado, a powerful mafia structure left over from the times of Pablo Escobar. Those agreements with criminal gangs and the judicial sentence against his secretary continue to haunt the candidate today, although they never meant processes for him.

Order and opportunities

Without promising drastic changes can he win? That is the question of millions of followers and of the political class with a conservative profile that bets their chips on considering it aligned with continuity in policies and approaches to address what they judge to be a national mess. Fico gives them plenty of reasons, beginning with his campaign slogan: ‘A country in order and with opportunities’, that is, a strong hand against crime, legal stability for economic growth and adjustments to public spending. That combined with support for the most deprived sectors and for young people, a social agenda that was a mole in his management as mayor, according to friends and detractors of his management.

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Fico does not make economists think or open major debates against the model of national security or environmental policy. And that is his strength against his rivals. In his informal style and agility to move – he is a cyclist, jogger and soccer lover; father of two children, declared Catholic and happy husband- Gutiérrez has found his niche and the support of the most traditional sectors of various regions. With him there will be no leap into the voidas he repeats, because he knew how to take advantage of the little political renewal in the center and right of the Antioquia region to gather followers and the blessing of former president Uribe. That will be his mattress if the votes are enough for him to make the leap to the House of Nariño.

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