Juan Manuel Santos’ reelection campaign suffered a blow before it even took off on Sunday, after a video of the Colombian president involuntarily urinating on himself during a speech began to circulate early this week.
The leader was fervently delivering a speech during the launch of his campaign in the coastal city of Barranquilla when a wet spot gradually began to form on the front of his khaki-colored pants. On Tuesday, Santos released a statement explaining the “incontinence accident” was a side effect from a 2012 surgery to treat his prostate cancer.
While some have shown compassion for Santos, 62, others have mocked the leader and critics have seized the opportunity to question the president’s health as he seeks a second term in 2014.
“My political opponents have attacked me without mercy, looking to knock my image and my dignity as a person and as a President,” Santos wrote in the opening of the statement, according to Colombian daily El Tiempo.
“At the launch of my presidential campaign I suffered what is known as an incontinence accident, a result of the surgery carried out a year and a half ago to remove the prostate cancer,” the Colombian leader explained.
Santos underwent surgery on October 3, 2012 in Bogotá to treat the cancer. The President added that the incident was not the first of its kind though “it had not happened in a long time.”
In response to concerns over his health and whether he was capable of taking on a second presidential term, Santos insisted that doctors regarded the incident as “perfectly normal” and that his recovery was “still going strong.”
The Colombian leader also thanked those who have shown compassion and criticized those who have used the incident against him.
“And I must also say that it is very sad, very disappointing, that political concerns arise from a personal and human situation that could have happened to anyone,” Santos said at the closing of the statement.
This year’s presidential elections in Colombia will be held on May 25. Santos' first term as president began in August 2010 and he is currently seeking reelection.