In June this year, Global Exchange reported extensively on the historic victory of Gustavo Petro in the Colombian presidential elections as head of the Pacto Histórico, a left-leaning coalition of progressive political parties and social movements. 

Now,five months on – just over 100 days after taking office, we have returned to Colombia to see how successful the country’s first leftist president has been in fulfilling his campaign promise to put the country’s most marginalized communities – indigenous people, afro-Colombians and poor farmers – at the heart of government decision-making. 

For the first time in Colombia’s 200-year history, ordinary citizens from its most remote and war-torn areas are being consulted on the government’s four-year plan of action. This unprecedented exercise in participatory democracy aims to ensure that the progressive reforms promised in the Pacto Histórico´s electoral manifesto respond to the real needs of Colombia’s most vulnerable citizens. 

Global Exchange is supporting the national network of community and alternative media – SíPaz – to report from five of the 50 regional dialogues that the government is organizing across the length and breadth of Colombia. SíPaz´s professional journalists will be reporting on the aspirations of the different social groups as they participate at the dialogues. They will also be applying innovative real-time polling apps to measure just how effective the government’s strategy has been to empower tens of thousands of ordinary citizens to co-construct public policy. 

Stay tuned for upcoming news and webcast reports.

This Sunday Colombians will vote for a new president and vice-president: Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez of the Pacto Historico or Rodolfo Hernández Suárez and Marelen Castillo Torres of the Liga de Gobernantes Anticorrupción.

Polls are tight, passions are running high, and the results are being closely watched throughout the hemisphere. We have two teams of local and international reporters already in place on the Pacific and Caribbean Coasts along with anchors in Bogotá and Cali.

Our Pacific Coast team will travel to Afrocolombian communities in Timbiquí, Guapi, Suáre de Cauca. Team leader, Alí Bantu of Justicia Racial has led large scale voter engagement efforts in this region where high absenteeism accompanies historic racial exclusion, decades of still simmering armed conflict, and poverty made worse by the high costs of boat transportation to isolated communities.

Racial Justice‘s #VotoPacifico project has mobilized more than 400 black lawyers to monitor polling sites and field voter protection hotlines in 62 municipalities along the Pacific Coast. In addition to Ali, the team will include journalist, Témoris Grecko; photojournalist and documentarian,Ivan Castaneira; Anthropologist, Alex Sierra; and political analyst, Laura Carlsen.

Our team on the Caribbean coast will visit the Montes de María area that includes Palo Altico, María la Baja, El Guamo, San Onofre, and Chalán where indigenous and black farming communities (a majority of whom were displaced by armed conflict) struggle with poverty, climate change driven floods, and the ongoing presence of paramilitary and criminal organizations. This team includes journalist and photographer, Manuel Ortiz; Afrocolombian farmer and documentarian, Duvan Caro; and Colombian journalist, María José Martínez. In Montes de María area we will coordinate activities with Colombia ‘s Misión de Observación Electoral (MOE).

In Cali we will be anchored by reporter Aliana Duarte and in Bogotá by Ingrid Sánchez.

These elections will have a big impact in Colombia and the region. We hope you can join our coverage.  Don’t miss it!