Municipal Elections Highlight Split Among Colombia’s Elites

After a campaign plagued by corruption allegations and violence -- 41 candidates were murdered during recent months -- the outcome of Colombia’s municipal elections last weekend paints the picture of a nation polarized between left-leaning pragmatists in urban centers and conservative elites clinging to countryside power.

Perhaps most striking was the rise of Gustavo Petro, a former leftist guerilla, who was elected mayor of Bogota after running on an outspokenly “anti-corruption” platform.

Petro’s victory, which comes on the heels of an intense public-works corruption scandal that landed the Colombian capital’s former mayor, Samuel Moreno, in jail in September, is particularly significant in that it “shows the power right now in Colombian politics of being perceived as against corruption,” says Adam Isacson, a Colombia expert at the Washington Office on Latin America.

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