When Colombia votes, the future of the third largest country in Latin America is at stake.
Gustavo Petro, a former rebel and longtime senator, is running for president. He wants to be the first leftist president of Colombia and wants to change the way the economy works.
The other is Rodolfo Hernández, a construction magnate turned social media star who has become the country's most disruptive political figure in a generation. He has rallied voters with promises of "total austerity" and a "scorched earth" approach to corruption.
In Sunday's presidential election, the fate of the third largest country in Latin America is at stake. Since the pandemic, poverty and inequality have gotten worse, and polls show that people are losing faith in almost all major institutions. Last year, protests against the government brought out hundreds of thousands of people in what became known as the "national strike." This event casts a shadow over the vote on Sunday.
Fernando Posada, a political scientist from Colombia, said, "It is very clear that the whole country wants change."
The candidates are almost tied in the polls going into the election, and the outcome could be so close that it takes days to figure out who won.
Whoever wins will have to deal with the country's most important problems and how they affect the rest of the world: Lack of opportunity and rising violence, which have caused a record number of Colombians to move to the United States in recent months; high levels of deforestation in the Colombian Amazon, which is a key buffer against climate change; and growing threats to democracy, which is a trend in the region as a whole.
Both candidates make voters angry and hopeful, and the election has caused families to split, dominated national conversation, and led to a glossary's worth of internet memes that show how the country feels: Mr. Hernández called his critics "crazy" on TikTok, and Mr. Petro was promoting a song that encouraged a new way to buy votes illegally.
"You fool them first," the chorus says, referring to the political establishment of the country. "Take their money, and vote for Petro!"
Both candidates say that they are running against a group of conservatives who have run the country for a long time.
What they think is the cause of the country's problems is one of the things that sets them apart the most.
Mr. Petro thinks the economy is broken because it depends too much on oil exports and a thriving, illegal cocaine business, which has made the rich richer and the poor poorer, according to him. He wants all new oil exploration to stop, the focus to shift to developing other industries, social programs to be made bigger, and taxes on the rich to go up.
Mr. Petro said in an interview that the current economic system is the result of what he calls "the depletion of the model." "In the end, it leads to a harsh poverty."
But his ambitious plan for the economy has made people worry. His energy plan was called "economic suicide" by a former minister of finance.
Mr. Hernández doesn't want to change the way the economy works, but he says it's not working well because it's full of corruption and wasteful spending. He wants to combine ministries, get rid of some embassies, and fire inefficient government workers. The money saved would then be used to help the poor.
He told his supporters, "They think I have the power to stand up to the political cabal, to get rid of them so that the poor can get their rights back."
People who disagree with him say that he wants a harsh form of capitalism that will hurt the country.
Former friends of Mr. Petro say that he is too proud to listen to advice and has trouble putting together teams. Mr. Hernández has been charged with corruption and accused of being rude and bossy. His trial is set for July 21. He says he's not guilty.
No matter who wins, Francia Márquez, an environmental activist on Mr. Petro's ticket, or Marelen Castillo, a former university administrator on Mr. Hernández's ticket, will be the first Black woman to be vice president.
During the first round of voting in May, Yojaira Pérez, 53, from the northern department of Sucre, said that her vote for Mr. Petro was a kind of revenge. This shows the mood of the voters, who have helped the two men running on Sunday get where they are now.
"We have to punish the same old politicians who have been in charge in Colombia," she said. "They wanted to rule and run Colombia as if it were a puppet, as if we were their puppets."