Leftist candidate Aida Avella “stole the show” Thursday at the first presidential debate ahead of Colombia’s May 25 presidential elections.
During the debate, Avella (of the Patriotic Union (Union Patriotica – UP) and a number of other presidential hopefuls, discussed issues of education, international politics, the economy, and the ongoing peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group in Cuba.
Other candidates attending the debate included Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, Candidate for the Democratic Center party (Centro Democratico – CD), Clara Lopez, candidate for the Democratic Pole (Polo Alternativo Democratico – PDA), and John Sudarsky from the Green Alliance (Allianza Verde – AV).
Recently returned to Colombian after nearly two decades in exile, Avella stirred the audience with her proposals to dismiss the whole body of Colombian ambassadors and notaries who she states are family and friends of the government, Caracol Radio reported.
“The first thing I would do is to dismiss all the ambassadors, that cartel of ambassadors, men that have no idea,” she told the audience.
The leftist candidate proposed to PDA candidate Clara Lopez a united candidacy in the upcoming elections, a proposal that Lopez said she would take into consideration if it would bring them victory. This idea was welcomed by Lopez.
Avella expressed concern over ongoing political tensions in Venezuela — which she says could have a negative impact on Colombia — and wished a peaceful solution to the conflict between the leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition in the neighboring country.
Colombia’s largest radio networks, Caracol and RCN, agreed on their websites that Avella had come out the strongest from the debate. Caracol said the leftist candidate “stole the show.” RCN also reported Avella had emerged as the winner of the debate.
Avella’s party has its roots in a coalition of leftist social organizations and rebel groups like the FARC and was submitted to a terror campaign carried out by right-wing paramilitary groups and members of the security forces. Since its foundation in 1985, thousands of the party’s members have been assassinated.