Saturday, June 07, 2014

Colombian elections

Colombia had a Presidential election on May 25, with a second and final round to occur on June 15. The current President Juan Manuel Santos came in second after Oscar Ivan Zuluaga. Zuluaga is backed by former President Álvaro Uribe.

Uribe was and is a hardline conservative, whose style of politics is known as uribismo. As President, he was committed to carrying on the internal war against the FARC guerrillas and was actively hostile toward neighboring Venezuela. He ran afoul of basically all of South America when he made a military incursion into Ecuadoran territory as part of the counter-insurgency campaign. (Colombia, Ecuador and sovereignty 03/05/2014) He was a loyal backer of US positions in Latin America.

Santos served as Uribe's Defense Secretary and had Uribe's backing in his first run for the Presidency. But as President, he hasn't practiced uribismo very well. He's improved relations with Venezuela and has not been a knee-jerk supporter of Washington's positions. He's pursued peace talks with the FARC. The peace talks have been the main issue in the election. Andrés Cala, co-author of America's Blind Spot: Chávez, Oil, and US Security (2012), writes in Colombia's Choice: Peace or War Consortium News 06/01/2014

Behind Zuluaga’s strong showing was former President Alvaro Uribe, who governed between 2002 and 2010. Uribe has a bleak human rights track record, especially from his ideological war against the Left. But he undeniably remains the country’s single most influential political leader. He is Colombia’s very own caudillo reflecting a populist resurgence across the continent, albeit coming from the Right rather than the Left, the orientation of most other South American populists.

In fact, Zuluaga won the first round for essentially the same reason Santos won his first election: because Santos had Uribe’s blessing then and Zuluaga has it now. Santos lost almost two-thirds of his 9 million votes from 2010, most of which went to Uribe’s new favorite, Zuluaga, a little known figure before the elections.

The first-round campaign was down-and-dirty and lacking real issues other than the peace negotiations occurring in Havana, Cuba, with the Revolutionary Armed of Colombia, or FARC for their Spanish acronym. Energized and disciplined, Zuluaga has the bulk of the extreme-right voting power. In his victory speech, he read a message from Uribe to the crowd’s cheers, and he promised to end the peace process and use all available firepower to pacify the country.
Cala faults Santos' campaign in the first round for insufficiently "defending his own economic and social record, which has in fact been good despite the various headwinds including the lingering civil war and the global economic struggle."

There seems to be a good chance that Santos in the second round will win a large portion of the votes that went to other candidates in the first. Colombia Conservative Party divided over run-off support Reuters 05/28/2014.

There is a new development that will presumably help Santos next weekend, at least marginally. The FARC has agreed for the first time to include in the peace talks the issue of restitution for victims: Las FARC reconocen a sus víctimas para que sean incluidas en el diálogo de paz en Cuba Infobae 07.06.2014; Gobierno anuncia que primera delegación de víctimas viajará a La Habana El Heraldo (Colombia) 07.06.2014

And Santos was quick to point out what good news it is: Todas las víctimas están siendo y van a ser reparadas: Santos El Heraldo 07.06.2014. He said, "por primera vez en la historia se va a reconocer a las víctimas como centro de solución del conflicto." ("for the first time in history, the victims are going to be recognized as central to the solution of the conflict.")

See also:

Santos corteja a verdes y conservadores Página/12 28.05.2014

Katalina Vásquez Guzmán, Santos y Zuluaga se enfrentan en ballottage Página/12 26.05.2014

Riesgo para la segunda vuelta presidencial en 136 municipios El Espectador (Colombia) 03.06.2014

Cuatro policías muertos y dos heridos en ataque en Saravena El Tiempo (Colombia) 03.06.2014

Policías que participen en política serán destituidos: general Palomino El País (Colombia) 03.06.2014

"Yo ofrezco mucho más que la paz": Juan Manuel Santos El País (Colombia) 02.06.2014

Farc analizan la posibilidad de declarar otro cese al fuego por elecciones El Heraldo 03.06.2014


1 comment:

Vicente Duque said...

Dear Friends :

I am kneeling on the floor and asking God for 8% advantage for Mr Zuluaga, that is one million votes. I am not asking God for two million because we should not abuse His Mercy and Patience.

The 8% is consistent with the best pollsters "Napoleón Franco Ipsos" and another private poll of an American Pollster based in New York City.

Other pollsters think that the contest is tight or give a little advantage to Mr Santos. But they failed miserably to predict the first round.

Colombia is a little flame of Democracy and Freedom in the strong winds of Latin American Despotism and Tyranny. So this would be a cause of celebration for all Good People around the world, including NATO ( NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION ) that are friends of Colombia. Colombia has been in NATO Air Force Exercises in Canada and the USA during the past three years.

I hope that Americans and Canadians can forget for an hour their very grave concerns with the Ukraine, Syria, Palestine, etc .... and uncork a bottle of champagne if my happy hopes become true reality.

Otherwise if I fail in my predictions it will be "weeping there, and the gnashing of teeth" and another pawn falls to Communism in the brutal form of Castro-Chavismo.