Gutiérrez Group´s take on this week´s presidential elections

Dear Friends,

Time flies, doesn´t it? We were recently discussing about this and it´s just amazing how rapidly years go by in a country that’s going through profound and positive changes, just like Colombia is right now. Let´s review:

-25 years ago Medellin was infamously appointed the world´s most dangerous city

-20 years ago our country´s exodus reached its peak with over 5 million Colombians crossing borders and yearning for safety and opportunities

-15 years ago Colombians voted to take true command of this country´s steering wheel by appointing Alvaro Uribe to lead its transformation

-5 years ago Medellin completed an unprecedented 180º transformation when named the globe´s most innovative city by the non-profit Urban Land Institute and then to top it off just a few years later the city landed the World City Prize awarded by the Lee Kuan Yew Foundation, considered to be the equivalent to an Urbanism Nobel prize.

Today, thanks to enormous potential, improved security conditions and steady economic growth, Colombia is welcoming both a substantial portion of the same countrymen that escaped terror years ago as well as an outstanding amount of expats craving the quality of life it offers. A good indicator of how this country is booming is tourism. Recent figures show that our country experienced a record-breaking 28% increase in tourism during 2017, the world´s average growth rate being below 7%. (Source: World Tourism Organization) It feels like the type of thing you can´t help to wonder: “when did all that happen?”

As much as time manages to slip between our fingers to continue its unperceivable march, every now and then we come across events of extraordinary importance that mark (or scar) a nation´s history. There are few of more relevance than a presidential election. These are often clear turning points for both the better and the worse and as such they capture everyone´s attention.

Colombia faces a presidential election this weekend. Technicalities aside, our country is facing the same old dilemma that most elections entail: continuity or change.

The continuity trend is embodied by Iván Duque, candidate for the Centro Democrático party, which has effectively been in power since Alvaro Uribe took possession back in 2002 for 8 years, followed by another 8 from current president Juan Manuel Santos. Though there are important political differences between our president and his predecessor, they meet on this country´s foundational rebirth premises: guaranteeing security, fighting inequality, strengthening democracy, promotion of foreign investment and pursuit of competitiveness.

The change on the other hand has multiple nuances. From a slightly moderate one to be led by German Vargas Lleras, former vice president, to a more center approach personalized by Sergio Fajardo and finally a more pronounced leap towards a center-left ideology represented by Gustavo Petro.

Over a dozen surveys have measured voting intention since the campaigns were officially launched a few months ago. Last Sunday´s poll had a special significance as it was the last one that could be published before this weekend´s vote. The results were as follows:

-Ivan Duque: 41,5%
-Gustavo Petro: 29,5%
-Sergio Fajardo: 16,3%
-Germán Vargas: 6,6%

According to our system, if there isn´t a candidate that is able to gather more than 50% of the votes, a second round will be required between the two candidates that obtained the most votes. In that hypothetical scenario, the last poll shows that Ivan Duque would defeat Gustavo Petro.

In our humble opinion, Ivan Duque is the best candidate. He represents a fresh approach to the critical task of continuing the legacy of these part 15 years of proven success. There are no doubts that our country´s new realities require new actions. We feel that only Duque is going to be able to harmonically weave these new circumstances with the policies that have made our country great after decades of obscurantism. Amongst the most important reforms that Duque has promised to undertake we can highlight two that are going to be of great relevance for us and yourselves: a reduction of procedures required to engage in business in Colombia and committed support to agricultural ventures through tax abatements. The combination of these factors should most likely lead to a considerable appreciation of our agricultural assets and enhance their performance.

Stay tuned as this important date in our history unfolds and be aware that with a lengthy period of further political and economic stability, this country aims to nothing but keep growing and amazing the world.