With elections for Bogota’s Mayor approaching in less than a week, Bogotanians have been shocked by a recent statement of the most likely winner of the electoral race. In a public debate last Sunday, Samuel Moreno said he would be willing to buy votes if by doing so he knew he would spare Bogota from electing a candidate that has bought even more votes. In a city that has praised itself of shifting from the traditional clientelistic practices to a healthy democracy in the last 10 years, such a statement seemed surreal. So much so, that many have been tempted to accept his argument, in later interviews, that he misunderstood the question.
A new piece of information emerged today, however, that should make voters think twice about the value the candidate truly gives to clean democratic processes. The FM (a radio station) reproduced this morning a 1995 interview, where Moreno defended the legitimacy of de-facto means of arriving to power. He said that sometimes citizens need to arm themselves to defend electoral results, and that some dictators are not bad because they do more than elected officials. When further questioned about whether the official army shouldn’t be enough to defend the electoral process, he answered that the army sometimes acts in “complicity with the establishment”. As though “the establishment” is a criminal organization.
The statements are perhaps not totally surprising coming from the grandson of the only dictator Colombia has had in modern history. But this makes them no less outrageous. Bogotanians should question the validity of electing a candidate that in two different episodes has revealed a lack of regard for the democratic process. Especially when being Mayor of Bogota has in the past been a valuable step for politicians that later try to become Colombia’s presidents. Hopefully, Bogota’s residents will show the political culture in the city has truly evolved to a stage where candidates for whom the ends justify the means don’t have a chance of conducting Colombia’s largest city.