Millions of Colombian voters are poised to take a step into the unknown next week, as they invest their hopes in a controversial figure who they believe will help the country reinvent itself politically. Rodolfo Hernandez shocked much of Colombia by producing a surprise, second-place result in the first round of the country’s presidential elections in late May, garnering 28 percent of the vote. That secured his place in the upcoming June 19 runoff against left-wing, former armed group member Gustavo Petro.
The 77-year-old construction tycoon is not a typical presidential candidate in Colombia, where for the last few decades politics have been largely centred on Uribismo, a brand of conservatism ushered in by former President Alvaro Uribe, who still holds significant political sway.
Hernandez is aware of his differences and brandishes them with pride. He is brash, controversial, and foul-mouthed, and has built his presidential campaign around his position as a political outsider and straight-shooting “regular Joe”.