Colombians vote in a run-off election Sunday and ex-pats can in New York can cast their votes in Queens and three other locations in the metro-area. In the first-round of the Presidential election in May, 15,000 Colombians in the New York area voted.
In recent weeks, volunteers with Colombia's Green Party have been spending evenings on a busy corner of Jackson Heights, trying to recruit more supporters for their underdog candidate Antanas Mockus.
Carolina Amaya has been out on 37th Avenue often since the first round of voting. She asks passersby first if they’re Colombian. Then she tries to hand them a newsletter about her candidate. But she says a lot of people don’t want to consider new leadership in Colombia. She says some will even lie to get out of talking to her. After one middle aged man walks away from her, she explains, "He said he’s Italian, and he speaks the same as I. Spanish."
Most Colombians in New York are fans of the outgoing President Alvaro Uribe and supported his former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos in the May election.
Luz Guittierez stops to tell Amaya in Spanish that she doesn’t like Colombia’s Green Party candidate. "No me gusta, no me gusta este candidato!" First off, she explains, because he once mooned an audience of students. She says Uribe’s policies made Colombia safe and now people can live there and travel back and forth. And she says she worries that if Colombia elects the Green Party candidate, it will no longer be a friend of the United States.
Amaya tells Guittierez that Uribe’s defense minister has waged a dirty campaign and that he was responsible for security measures that resulted in the death of innocent people.
Another volunteer, Gloria Flores says she’s active in politics in New York and in Colombia.
"I love this country," Flores says, "but I love my country too. I have family there, I have friends there, so we can do something. We are here, we can support them, we can do something for them."