Presidential candidate Juan Fernando Cristo assured that The Centro Esperanza Coalition will remain firm with or without Ingrid Betancourt, towards the consultation that will take place on March 13 and that will define the candidate for the presidential elections on May 29.
Christ’s pronouncement came after Betancourt’s resignation to be part of said coalition, after a heated debate with fellow candidate Alejandro Gaviria.
In dialogue with RCNRadio, Christ recognized that the marked differences between Gaviria and Betancourt affected the coalition, but he pointed out that now they have to move forward, facing Colombians, who are the ones who really matter in this electoral contest.
He also pointed out that during the last two years progress has been made in consolidating the foundations of the Hope Center Coalition, as a different option for voters and that, the departure of a former congressman cannot destroy such a long and edifying process.
“Those of us who began two years ago to work on the construction and consolidation of the Hope Center Coalition, established our position regarding the discussions that had begun this week between Ingrid Betancourt and Alejandro Gaviria, which we undoubtedly recognize affect the coalition and they do not allow us to advance in the achievement of proposals for Colombians, they distract us from our fundamental obligation, which is to go out into the streets and cities of Colombia to propose solutions to the serious crisis we are experiencing today,” he said.
It should be remembered that this Saturday afternoon the presidential candidate announced to the country her decision to withdraw from the coalition, after expressing her annoyance at Senator Germán Varon Cotrino’s support for Gaviria’s aspiration and after extending her ‘ultimatum’, decided to withdraw from this political process.
“We received a response from the Hope Center Coalition. The entry of the support of the machinery is pointed out as a regrettable error. However, it does not announce action regarding the support already received from the machinery to Alexander Gaviria. This lack of a clear position forces us to assume the leadership of a battle that we have to give and win in Colombia for a clean policy,” Betancourt said in the statement.
Cristo assured that the Centro Esperanza Coalition is based on the fight against corruption and explained that it is necessary to act coherently.
“We clearly express what we plan to do moving forward, what our criteria are regarding the support of political leaders from other parties and sectors, clearly establishing that there must be an ideological coherence and in the behaviors in front of what will be the popular referendum on March 13 and in the end we invite Alejandro Gaviria and Ingrid Betancourt, so that after studying that position they will make their decision to join us or not in the referendum in March”, he affirmed.
He also pointed out that despite the withdrawal of the ex-kidnapped person, he wishes that his new path would go very well, but he indicated that he regrets his decision.
“Ingrid Betancourt has unfortunately made the decision to withdraw from the coalition, We are really sorry but it is a decision that must be respected and in the personal case I wish you the best of luck in the campaign and in the competition to reach the first presidential round; that obviously means that in the coalition we continue with the candidates that we had announced to compete in the consultation in March”.
Former Minister Cristo also assured that the Coalition will take to the streets to respond to the concerns of the people.
“There is a consultation in the month of March, the consultation will be registered next week and we are making progress in supporting the lists for Congress, there is a joint agenda, some joint proposals; there will be differences, there will be controversies within the spirit of what was agreed in the conclave last November”, he indicated.
However, he said that Betancourt was wrong to have given an ultimatum to the Hope Center Coalition and said it was a hasty decision.
“I think that we could not accept and We cannot accept an ultimatum, that is not how politics is done, Ingrid’s decision seems hasty and unfair to us, when you already know our commitment and that the Centro Esperanza Coalition is a political commitment to change, a different option to the Government of President Iván Duque, an option in the fight against corruption and the constitutional reforms that this country needs.
He added that the clashes between Betancourt and Gaviria was an unfortunate episode that affected the coalition, but “You have to turn the page and move forward, We regret that decision and wish him the best of luck…
For his part, the former chief peace negotiator, Humberto de la Calle Lombana, rejected the decision of presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt to resign from the Centro Esperanza Coalition to run as an independent presidential candidate for Verde Oxígeno.
In his Twitter social network account, the also member of said coalition assured that at this political moment in the country it is not prudent to generate a division like the one that was presented four years ago.
“Ingrid Betancourt: I cannot agree with your separation from the Centro Esperanza Coalition. The problem is not you or me. We cannot divide ourselves and repeat 2018, once again leaving Colombians imprisoned by extremism,” he said.
De la Calle also pointed out that because Betancourt supported him in his aspiration to the Senate, cannot support any candidate resulting from the coalition consultation.
“As you generously gave me the endorsement of my candidacy, the fact that you are a candidate from outside I am legally bound to break my promise to support whoever wins within the Hope Center Coalition, and to abandon my two-year effort to unite the center.”
The former negotiator recalled that he gave up the possibility of being a candidate for the Presidency, for supporting Betancourt and that promise is kept, but he invited her to retract.
“That promise included my withdrawal from the presidential race. I hope you reconsider. I hope you will reconsider your decision. I hope I am not faced with the legal imperative of choosing between my primary promise to support the entire Coalition and the ensuing consequence of your decision,” he said.
He added that “Sergio Fajardo, Alejandro Gaviria, Juan Manuel Galán, Carlos Amaya, Jorge Enrique Robledo and Juan Fernando Cristo, the effort to arrive united to the electoral contest is the minimum response that we owe to the majority of Colombian men and women”.