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Colombia’s Presidential Favorite Has a Record of Abrasive Remarks

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- Rodolfo Hernandez, a 77-year-old construction magnate known for his abrasive style, is now the favorite to be Colombia’s next president after securing a place in next month’s election runoff. He has sometimes been compared to former US president Donald Trump for his disdain for the establishment and ability to shrug off controversies that would sink other politicians.

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Over the years, he has made derogatory remarks about political and business rivals, minority groups and reporters. He often curses and, on one occasion, used physical violence.

These are some of the comments he has made in recent years which raised eyebrows.

On Hitler

  • “I am an follower of a great German thinker. He’s called Adolfo Hitler,” Hernandez said in an interview with RCN Radio in 2016. He later apologized to the Jewish community and said that he had meant to say Albert Einstein.

On Venezuelans

  • In a 2019 interview with Blu Radio he described Venezuelan migrants as “baby-making machines.”

While Mayor

  • “Why are we paying all these fatsos, to sleep all day long? You stop over in the fire station and they are all sleeping, getting paid overtime, and their snoring wakes the dead,” Hernandez said of his city’s firefighters when he was Mayor of Bucaramanga.

  • “You’re lying,” Hernandez told a local politician during a heated argument in 2018, before slapping him amid insults. The incident led to his suspension as mayor of the provincial city of Bucaramanga.

While Campaigning

  • “Vichada? What’s that?” Asked about Colombia’s second-largest province by area, Hernandez appeared not to have heard of it. Despite this, he won the most votes in the district in the first round of the presidential election on May 29.

  • “Look at me in the face. I won’t let you down.” Hernandez made this address to supporters in a video clip on election day. His words seemed unobjectionable, but Colombians were surprised to see that he wasn’t wearing any clothes, other than a pair of swimming trunks.

While Doing Business

  • “If you continue to p*ss me off, you son of a b*tch, I’ll shoot you.” Hernandez said this to an architect and former client, according to a recording published by Semana magazine last year. In an interview with newspaper El Tiempo, he admitted he had been wrong to utter a threat, but said people had overreacted.

(Adds insult, threat, in final paragraph.)

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