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Rodolfo Hernández, the surprising ‘tropical Trump’ in Colombia

The engineer and Rodolfo Hernandez They are two already inseparable concepts in the Colombian political landscape, especially in a race in which this tycoon has championed his status as an “outsider” to try to win the presidency in the June ballot and govern through controversy.

The “Colombian Tropical Trump”, as some refer to him, did not have many real possibilities, according to the first projections, of achieving a victory at the polls; he was unknown to most Colombians, with the exception of the department of Santander, where he grew up and made his fortune.

But Hernández, candidate of the Anti-Corruption Governors League movement, created by him and who does not define himself politically although their proposals tend more towards populism, He has become the surprise of the campaign: the polls bring him ever closer to a second place that would give him a ticket to the second round where he would face leftist Gustavo Petro at the polls.

Rodolfo Hernández, when voting this Sunday. Photo Bloomberg

The beginning

The successful and millionaire businessman, far from traditional politics and Colombian castes, started his career in Bucaramanga, capital of the department of Santander, in the northeast of the country.

He was born in that region, into a working-class family, in 1945, specifically in Piedecuesta, the land that rewarded him with the millions he now has in his account after entering the business of building social housing.

Hernández is married to Socorro Oliveros and He has four children: Juliana, disappeared after being kidnapped by the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in 2004, Luis Carlos, Mauricio and Rodolfo José.

People wait in line to vote today, during the election day to elect the president of Colombia.  Photo EFE

People wait in line to vote today, during the election day to elect the president of Colombia. Photo EFE

Already in that campaign that catapulted him into politics, he made the word “engineer” inseparable from his name, precisely trying to give the image that since he was already rich, did not need to steal from the public coffers to thicken their pockets. Something that worked for him and has accompanied him in his race for the Presidency.

He came to power in Bucaramanga from his home: he bought the apartment across the street, where he set up an office where he received everyone. His eccentricities also followed him to the Mayor’s Office, where every Monday he broadcast his popular “Talk to the Mayor”which earned him a couple of controversies.

sharp tongue

But without a doubt, what has most marked his presence in the political scene has been his character, with a tendency to the picturesque and vulgar, and without any fear of confrontation, in which he has worked on his quality of always coming out unscathed.

Hernandez is a “attractive candidate” because he has novel ideas, if you like, unorthodox, and “he transmits them without filters, something that can connect with voters,” political analyst Felipe Botero explains in an interview with Efe, adding that it does not mean that they are “plausible.” .

The engineer came to the race for the Presidency with some controversies behind him, like an interview where he assured that he admired Adolfo Hitlero when he hit an opposition councilor from the Mayor’s Office of Bucaramanga, something that led to the suspension of his position.

His campaign, like the one that brought him to the Mayor’s Office, has been based on a speech from which he makes a voracious criticism against corrupt practices, widely extended in Colombia, as well as against traditional politicians, whom he accuses of all the evils that the country suffers.

Despite this speech that has become a flag, Hernández is involved in a corruption case that dates back to his time as mayor. The Prosecutor’s Office accuses him of entering into a consultancy contract for the management of garbage in Bucaramanga with alleged irregularities, for which it will not be known if he is responsible until the trial is held, scheduled for after the elections.

who votes for it

The success of the engineer is in the regions, especially in the “santanderes”, in reference to his native Santander and the neighboring department of Norte de Santander. Unlike the rest of the candidates, Hernández has not toured the country at rallies in public squares but at small gatherings with supporters.

His “explosive and rebellious” personalityat the same time that it is somewhat “authoritarian and intolerant”, is what “people like”, considers Viveros.

But Hernández has proven to be “a little naive about how democratic institutions work and this can work against him,” since “he believes that the president has a capacity” to make decisions that he does not really have.

If he reaches the Presidency, Hernández will not have a party in Congresssomething that could lead to difficulties when governing.

Despite all the obstacles that come his way, the engineer “goes all out” and continues with a successful presidential campaign.with a strong presence on social networks.

And this May 29, his greatest aspiration to date was played at the polls, to lead Colombia.

EFE Agency

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