Colombians went to polls Sunday to vote in the nation’s Anti-Corruption Consultation which aims to limit politicians' power and eliminate corruption in the state.
The seven-questioned poll ranges from salary reductions, prison for corrupt officials, limits on public corporations and contracts, as well as full transparency in both public budgets and officials’ personal finances and property. "It's not fair we invest so much in congressional salaries when there's so many families who don't earn even two minimum salaries," said Miriam Huerte, a 54-year-old house cleaner.
Former Presidential candidate and current senator Gustavo Petro posted few pictures of him voting at a poll station with his daughter and sent a message to those corrupt officials in Colombia. "Walking to vote on the seven points of the anti-corruption referendum. A Message from society to the corrupt: Hey, your end is coming!"
President Ivan Duque showed his support for the anti-corruption initiative Saturday, saying he would be the first in line to vote when polls opened at 8:00 am local time.
Duque encouraged his fellow Colombians to participate, "We have to do everything to unite the Colombian people in the fight against corruption and you can be sure that the fight against corruption is a priority for all of us in the government," said Duque, who was inaugurated August 7. "The fight against corruption does not have a political party, it does not have an ideology, it has to be a task for all officials.”
The president added that the 11,000 stations will close their doors at 4:00 Sunday afternoon. However, several members of his party, including Alvaro Uribe, who is his mentor, an ex-president and current senator, have said they prefer to support anti-corruption proposals in Congress.
Uribe, whose administration was dogged by corruption probes, is now under investigation by the Supreme Court for alleged witness tampering and bribery.
'Yes' is supported by many leftist and centrist lawmakers. A faux reggaeton video starring politicians encouraging people to vote yes was widely shared on social media this week.
The push for an anti-corruption consultation was proposed by Green Party’s Congressional Members Claudia Lopez and Angelica Lozano. "It is born from the fatigue that people feel, facing the level of corruption in the country," said Lozano in an interview with Colombia’s El Espectador.
Senator Antanas Mockus, primary promoter of the movement, explained, ”Corruption in Colombia has always been serious, and the misuse and theft of public resources, bribes to obtain contracts, as well as the purchase of votes and judicial decisions have become habitual.”
However, Colombia’s general high voter turnout offers a positive outlook on the poll, though this is the fourth national vote organized for the 36 million-some registered voters.
The Latin American country was one of many to fall victim to the Brazilian Odebrecht scandal which awarded US$11million to Colombian officials in exchange for business contracts.
Company executives are guilty of illicitly acquiring contracts since 2001, admitting to paying more than US$788 million in 2016 to at least 12 countries in Latin America and Africa.