As a close U.S. ally in the region, Colombia’s competitive May 29 presidential elections will undoubtedly have important implications for the longstanding bilateral relationship. The next Colombian administration will face a host of issues, including: ongoing security challenges; the implementation of the 2016 FARC peace accord; opportunities for private sector investment, infrastructure development and poverty alleviation; counternarcotics efforts; urban unrest and strikes; climate change and the environment; and Colombia’s relations with neighboring Venezuela. At a townhall event, Colombia’s principal vice-presidential candidates — who represent Colombia’s rich and dynamic political spectrum — discussed their respective policy plans to address these challenges and visions for the country’s future. 



The Equipo por Colombia coalition has opted to organize a separate subsequent visit to Washington with its presidential candidate Federico Gutiérrez. However, Vice-Presidential Candidate Rodrigo Lara may still contribute virtually to this townhall.

On May 13, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Latin American Program hosted this townhall, which provided the opportunity for the candidates to answer questions from the audience and clarify campaign positions for both the broader Washington policy community as well as the Colombian diaspora.

Take part in the conversation on Twitter with #ColombiaVotes and #ColombiaVota.


Marelen Castillo 
Vice-Presidential Candidate, Liga de Gobernantes Anticorrupción (Candidate: Rodolfo Hernández)

Francia Márquez
Vice-Presidential Candidate, Pacto Histórico (Candidate: Gustavo Petro)

Luis Gilberto Murillo
Vice-Presidential Candidate, Centro Esperanza (Candidate: Sergio Fajardo)

Steve Hege, moderator
Deputy Director, Latin America Program, U.S. Institute of Peace

Cynthia Arnsonmoderator
Distinguished Fellow, Latin American Program, Woodrow Wilson Center

Jason Marczakmoderator
Senior Director, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, Atlantic Council

Related Publications

Colombia’s Renewed Peace Talks with ELN Rebels Provide Historic Opportunity

Colombia’s Renewed Peace Talks with ELN Rebels Provide Historic Opportunity

Thursday, December 15, 2022

By: Steve Hege

As part of its ambitious “Total Peace” agenda, the new Colombian government recently restarted peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), marking the first new negotiations since January 2019. And while this cycle of talks adopted the same agenda and process framework as the previous efforts, current President Gustavo Petro appointed a diverse and broad negotiations team in the hopes of generating early momentum and support. Petro intends to advance on partial accords as quickly as possible — building up to a comprehensive agreement before his brief four-year term in office is complete.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & DialoguePeace Processes

The Latest @ USIP: Resurgent Efforts in Colombia’s Peace Process

The Latest @ USIP: Resurgent Efforts in Colombia’s Peace Process

Thursday, November 10, 2022

By: Monsignor Hector Fabio Henao

Newly elected Colombian President Gustavo Petro has made “total peace” a cornerstone of his agenda, looking to jump-start implementation of the 2016 FARC peace agreement and establish negotiations with the ELN and various other armed groups. Monsignor Hector Fabio Henao, who serves as a delegate of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia for relations between the Catholic Church and the Colombian government, discusses how the Church is working at the grassroots level to address the humanitarian situation in conflict-affected areas and efforts to build consensus among civil society and government officials regarding next steps in the peace process.

Type: Blog

Peace ProcessesReligion

How to Balance Hydropower and Local Conflict Risks

How to Balance Hydropower and Local Conflict Risks

Thursday, October 27, 2022

By: Tegan Blaine, Ph.D.;  Chris Collins;  Laura Leiva

In the face of rapidly expanding solar and wind energy technology, it’s easy to forget about hydropower. Hydropower was first harnessed to turn mills and grind grain, but today it generates more electricity than any other source of renewable energy. But while dams can spur development, help manage water resources and improve access to affordable electricity, their impacts on local communities and the environment can have a dark side.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

EnvironmentGlobal Policy

Diálogos de Seguridad Ciudadana en Colombia

Diálogos de Seguridad Ciudadana en Colombia

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

La firma del Acuerdo de Paz del 2016 entre el gobierno colombiano y las FARC-EP abrió nuevas ventanas de oportunidad para transformar paradigmas de seguridad que respondan mejor a las necesidades y prioridades de la ciudadanía. Sin embargo, la implementación equitativa del Acuerdo en zonas rurales del territorio sigue siendo un desafío.

Type: Fact Sheet

Justice, Security & Rule of Law

View All Publications