San Nicolás, A Community Victimized by Political Ploys to Incentivize Voting

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Days before Sunday May 25, the day of the presidential elections, several people told me that I should be careful during that weekend and go home early, because it was likely that violent events would occur, like ones that have happened in the past in Soacha.  If there is a constant in Colombia’s history, it would be that division -the expression of two or more different positions- that generates serious conflict.  The setting for this year was not an exception: we had 5 candidates running for president, each one with their own government proposal.  The people were certainly divided between these parties and many didn’t support any of them, opting for abstention or a blank vote, showing their incredulity of the candidates and politics itself.

On Election Day, in the School of San Nicolás, everything happened normally; there was not a lot of crowding, and the police were supervising the polls and helping people exercise their right to vote.  However, outside of the radius of the school, there was some pressure from the military soldiers, who were accosting people, asking them if they had voted and even asking them for whom they had voted; a clear violation of the law, which establishes that one’s vote is secret.  I heard testimonies from people that work in certain private companies that have received direct instruction about who to vote for, and if they didn’t do it, they would lose their job immediately.

Each candidate has implemented their strategies to promote and convince the people, but it’s precisely the thirst for winning that makes them adopt these corrupts techniques that, without a doubt, trample democracy.  The people of San Nicolás have experienced these techniques and many head to the polls with feelings of fear.

In the end, the elections went to a second round of voting.  The theme on the agenda and of political debate was, without a doubt, peace.  The million dollar question is: What will happen with the peace that so many dream about if this or that candidate wins?

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