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Who is Rodolfo Hernandez? Colombia’s surprise presidential contender and ‘Tiktok King’

With the presedential runoff set for June 19, we take a look at one of the candidates who is vying to become the next president of Colombia.

Update:
Supporters of Rodolfo Hernandez, right-wing presidential candidate with the League of Anti-Corruption Governors, take over the streets to celebrate finishing second with more than 28 per cent of the vote in the first round of the presidential elections.
Anadolu AgencyGetty

Rodolfo Hernández Suárez was second in the first round for the presidency of Colombia and will contest the second round against former-rebel Gustavo Petro, who finished first in the elections on May 29.. Hernández is a politician born in Piedecuesta, Santander, on March 26, 1945 and is recognised in the country for his profession as a civil engineer.

Hernández was mayor of Bucaramanga between January 1, 2016 and September 17, 2019. He himself financed his campaign for that mayor and had several controversies in his government, including an attack on a city councilor that caused him a suspension of the Attorney General’s Office for three months.

The candidate was again suspended some time later, for another three months. He ended up making the decision to resign from the position and Alba Azucena Navarro Fernández took over as mayor in charge.

Hernandéz is running as an independent candidate and has assumed the lead of the vote from the right, knocking out conservative candidate, Federico “Fico” Gutiérrez.

The career as a civil engineer of Rodolfo Hernández

Hernández studied civil engineering at the National University of Colombia and graduated in Bogotá in 1970. His first works as a builder were in the municipalities of Piedecuesta, Floridablanca and Bucaramanga. Together with two partners, he founded his construction company HG (Hernández Gómez y Cía. Ltda.).

Its strong point has been the construction of low-income housing throughout Santander, Barranquilla and Bogotá. Currently all the shares of the construction company belong to him, his wife Socorro Oliveros and his three children: Mauricio, Luis Carlos and Rodolfo José. In 2004 his daughter Juliana was kidnapped and disappeared, though Hernandéz has said he would include the group responsible, the National Liberation Army (ELN), in a future peace agreement.

What is he campaigning on?

Hernandéz has also said he will respect the deal struck with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) which ended a 50-year long insurgency in the country. However, if he needs to build a right-wing coalition his position could change.

He is also running as an anti-corruption candidate, though his critics point to his troubles as mayor and lack of detailed plan on how he would deal with it.

“We have achieved a historic result, a result that has shaken the foundations of the corrupt power of all recent governments,” Hernandez wrote in a message posted on Facebook on Sunday evening.

What about his Tiktoks?

Breaking away from traditional media for his campaign, Hernandéz tactfully used social media to push his message. Using the breakout platform of Tiktok, he has amassed more than 500,000 followers and been given more than 4.4 million likes.


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