Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Medellin. The spring rains let up for the elections and the normal blue skies returned. At 10AM the novia and I were downtown watching the military helicopters circling above and waiting in line so she could vote.
Tons of People
There were tons of people out, most of them women (lucky me!), and, in accordance with the Colombian tradition, there was a constant process of people jumping into the line upfront, unwilling to wait.
People Were Calm
But generally, people were calm. The vendors sold Bon Ice and cigarettes. The traffic cops kept the cars and busses from stopping. No one was allowed to promote any of the candidates so close to the polling place.
Everyone Knew It
Independent Alvaro Uribe won in the first round. Everyone knew it would happen. He had polled between 48 and 60% in recent surveys. Almost everyone I had talked to here in Medellin was a big fan of his. As a former mayor of this city and former governor of Antioquia department, he’s the home-town boy. Imagine that he got 71% of the vote in Medellin! The only question was whether Uribe would be the first to win the Presidency in the first round of elections, which he did handily.
Firm but Conciliatory
In his victory speech, Uribe was firm but conciliatory, saying that he didn’t know everything and would need the help of the other candidates. Most interestingly, he brought out the idea of international mediation of the conflict and the reopening of dialog with the FARC - predicated on a cease fire.
How Fast the Results Came Back
An interesting side note to the elections is how fast the Registraduria came back with the results. At 4PM, when the polls closed, the media already had some preliminary results from abroad and by 9PM they had more than 90% of the national returns counted! Faster than the good ole US of A!
People here in Medellin seem for the most part to be cautiously happy and optimistic that Uribe will make a breakthrough with the FARC soon. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!