Colombian Presidential Election Live: Voters choose between Pedro and Hernandez

debt…Natalia Angarita for The New York Times

Rodolfo Hernández, who turned social media star from a construction tycoon who emerged as a surprise candidate in Colombia’s presidential election, has largely withdrawn from public life in recent weeks.

He refused to attend the debates and did not hold rallies, which were in support of live streams by his social media group.

But on Sunday, as voting began, Mr. Hernandez was surrounded by security guards from a white car in his hometown of Bukaramanga and stormed into a crowd of voters.

“Long live Rodolfo!” Supporters screamed as they watched the candidate enter his polling booth.

Mr. Hernandez pushed the bag with a wide grin. His opponent, Gustavo Pedro, a longtime senator and former rebel, sought to become the country’s first left-wing president, casting his ballot more than 250 miles south of the capital, Bogot.

Bukharamanga, in the middle city Mr. Hernandez built up his fortune and once served as mayorHis candidacy has generated political interest and deep regional pride among voters who believe he represents them.

Carlos Campova, 42, businessman, Mr. Hernandez was among the voters waiting in line when he came to vote.

“Most of us are with Rodolfo,” he said, adding that he did not believe it Mr. PetroIn part, because the candidate was a member of the M-19 rebel group.

Mr. Hernandez ran an anti-corruption platform despite being charged with corruption and inciting subordinates to award a city contract to a particular company.

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He has said he is innocent.

At the polling booths in Bukaramanga, many voters were not bothered by the allegation.

Gilma Bezera, 58, said: “Anyone who comes to power here is not clean, but Rodolfo is the least corrupt.”

In Bogot on Sunday morning, 24 – year – old Adriana Martinez was already queuing outside a high school in the working class neighborhood of El Sosiko.

He finished his night shift as a health administrative assistant and went straight to the polls on the bus.

Mrs. Martinez, just Mr. He said he supported Pedro and that the decision was particularly influenced by his choice. France Marquez To the vice president who could become the country’s first female black vice president.

Ms Marquez is an environmental activist who has gone from poverty to a national phenomenon, and speaking directly about race, class and gender during the campaign is rarely heard at the highest levels of Colombian politics.

“She’s the person we came from,” Ms Martinez said. “She had to fight to get where she was.”

Mr. Ms Martinez said she did not pay much attention to the argument that Pedro’s policies would cause the same kind of economic, humanitarian and democratic crisis as in Venezuela.

In Colombia, “You don’t have enough money to buy potatoes. We are already very poor in that sense, ”he said.

At the same polling station, Ingrid Forrero, 31, said she saw a generational divide in her community. Mr. Petro and the older generation. Supported in support of Hernandez.

Mr. Her own family calls her a “petty insurgent” because of her support for Pedro, who says she supports him because of his policies on education and income inequality.

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“Young people are more inclined towards revolution,” he said, “to the left, towards a change.”

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