Santos - The Trawler.org
Mauricio Vargas, in his column in El Tiempo, highlights how María Angela Holguin, the foreign minister, went from being Santo’s favourite, to being the favourite of the Chavez government. On Thursday, in a public act, Hugo Chavez praised Holguin, who defended the Venezuelan foreign minister Nicolas Maduro when he was accused by the Paraguayan government of promoting a coup d’etat with the military, an act which was intended to stop the trial of president Fernando Lugo by the Congress.
However, Holguin is not the favourite of the Colombian government or Colombian people anymore, although she helped improve the relationship between Colombia and Venezuela. Chavez responded to Colombian efforts by appointing Henry Rangel, a man who has been accused of having links with the FARC, as the defence minister.
Holguin also had to face the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena and the criticism about its results. The Summit didn’t have any positive results; on the contrary, the event was reduced to news coverage of the scandal involving service agents of the United States government and some prostitutes. Holguin responded to this event by claiming that “where there is a man, there is prostitution,” a very unusual tone for a diplomat. Later on, the Minister made a very inappropriate statement about the judges of the Hague in reference to the conflict between Colombia and Nicaragua for the Island of San Andres.
Likewise, the UNASUR issued a report that states that Colombia, not Venezuela, is the country that is arming in South America. The irony is that Holguin supports the UNASUR, which is an organization also supported by Chavez. And, though Colombia revealed the truth for the report, Venezuela hid the truth.
Vargas points out, tongue-in-cheek, that sometimes it seems as if Holguin wants to go with Chavez (who is supposed to be terminally ill) to his grave, and Vargas wonders if she will bury herself as well. (link to the article)
María Jimena Duzán in her weekly column in Semana writes about President Santos and the future of Colombia. According to her, it is not clear what is worse: Gustavo Petro making decisions quickly and lightly or Santos making calculated decisions.
Petro may have bad manners, but his political line is still the same. Santos, for his part, has gotten better in his manners, but his political line is an enigma, which is difficult to solve because he has a double speech for everything.
Santos’s obsession for peace (he talks about it every week) contrasts with his persistence to reform the justice system, a reform that will result in impunity for many crimes, just when the country was in the process of cracking down on these criminal cases. Some days he supports the Land Restitution Law, which is on the side of the victims of narcoparamilitarism and the state agents, and other days he sponsors a justice reform, which will protect politicians that were allied with the paramilitary.
Duzán questions if it is possible to talk about peace, as Santos does everyday, when the Constitution is being changed and the judicial branch is losing autonomy in exchange for benefits to the Court judges. Is it possible to reach peace in a country where the political elite get together to muzzle justice, and where the poorest have always lost? (link to article)
The crisis in Europe is a worldwide concern, and this week Mauricio Vargas, in his column in El Tiempo, wonders whether Colombia can survive the crisis or not. He points out that Barack Obama knows that if Europe succumbs to the crisis, then many banks in the US will do so as well, and in that scenario Obama will lose the upcoming presidential elections.
Moreover, China and India, who were once the motor for emerging countries such as Colombia, have stopped their growth. China’s economy will grow only by 7.5% this year compared to the 10% in previous years. Latin America will grow 3.5% this year in the best case scenario. Vargas states that so far Colombia is fine, but there are symptoms that point to a slowing down of the economy: the prices of exports such as coffee, petroleum and coal are going down, while industry and commerce are still growing but only slowly.
The government of Juan Manuel Santos must be careful with expenses, but it also has to accelerate public investment which generates employment. There is a new Minister of Transport, and apparently he is a good one according to Vargas. It is yet to be seen if he can prop up the public investment enough for Columbia to survive the world crisis. If that doesn’t happen, Santos will worry for his re-election, which will depend on the economy, as is the case for Obama’s re-election. (link to article)
More than one week after the attack against former Minister Fernando Londoño, the country keeps talking about the event. This week, Ana Milena Muñoz de Gaviria in her column in El Espectador writes about the necessity of getting together and uniting against terrorism.
It is said that the attack was carried out by the FARC against the former President Alvaro Uribe, since Fernando Londoño was his Minister and defender. On the other side, many say that the attack was carried out by the extreme right wing that misses the former government.
Whatever the reason is, the ex-President is in the middle of the polemic and his statements lead to division when union in needed. Colombians should support the current government and its institutions and leave behind their personal and political interests. Even more, since the country is living in a hopeful time in terms of global economy, foreign investment, and growth. Controversy in this moment simply doesn’t benefit the country.
Muñoz de Gaviria highlights that while Uribe focused on security, Santos had an active role as Defence Minister, and he is now trying to go ahead with development. There are 100,000 houses that are going to be given to the poorest people; but once again, when this was announced Uribe declared against him, stating that he is doing it because he is planning his re-election.
However, Colombians should stand together against terrorism and advance the development of the country, instead polarizing and dividing, which is what the insurgents want.
Today Colombia continues to talk about last week’s terrorist attack against former Minister Fernando Londoño and the government’s response to it. Mauricio Vargas in his column in El Tiempo states that last week has been the worst week of Juan Manuel Santos’s mandate. It is not just the assassination attempt, in which two bodyguards have died, 48 citizens were injured and Bogota remembered once again the terrorist nightmare of the 80’s, but also the fact that this event revealed a disappointing aspect to the leaders of the country.
Former President Alvaro Uribe overreacted. He criticised the Executive when the bomb attack had just happened, and this disappointed a lot of people. He should have made a statement against terrorism based in national unity, and kept silent, at least for few hours, about his complains and critics against Santos.
Nonetheless, the President decided to respond to Uribe in the same way, stating that in “Uribe’s mandate there were terrorist attacks almost every week”. It was a terrible presidential mistake. First, because he acted childishly and second, because he has allowed the former president to set the agenda. Furthermore, and most importantly, because as he was busy responding to the former President, he forgot that Colombians were waiting for their president to show leadership and a strong rejection of terrorism, and this never happened.
Even worst, Santos tried not to affirm that the FARC were behind the act. Santos supposed that if he accused the FARC he would be confirming Uribe’s theory of government’s setback in security. In this way, Santos seemed confused in his declarations, while in the meantime Uribe explained to the country the situation.
At the end of the event, the government showed approval for the Framework for Peace in its sixth debate in the Congress. It was a bad move, according to Vargas, because that Framework would allow forgiveness for whoever had attempted the terrorist attack against Londoño. Not even the Human Right Watch agrees with the text.
Finally, Vargas concludes that Uribe has made a mistake but he is not the president. Santos is the President, and Colombians expect him to be strong against terrorism and to reject terrorist acts, but where has his strong character gone, the one he showed as Finances Minister in the worst economic crisis of the country? And where is the leadership that he showed as the Defence Minister?. Santos still has time to remember the country for which he was a natural leader, and to have a good government in his two coming years. (link to article)
History repeats itself with the threat to the leaders of the Marcha Patriotica, who marched two weeks ago seeking for a peaceful solution to the conflict. Approximately 50.000 to 80.000 people went to the streets in Bogota, and not long after that, the General Secretary of the Communist Party, Carlos Lozano, was killed, as well as a regional leader.
The history of the Union Patriotica is repeating itself. According to Rodolfo Arango, it is tradition that the enemies of peace impede the political reinsertion of the insurgency, because they reject their social justice pretensions. The guerrillas, for their part, haven’t engaged in a real process that seeks for future understanding, generates trust and leads to peace. The kidnapping of the French journalist a few days ago is a sign of the lack of the guerillas’ commitment.
The leaders of the Marcha Patriotica should try to carry out political acts before the FARC ceasesfire, or they should sign a peace agreement. It’s a big responsibility, but it’s the expression of social indignation.
Santos government, for its part, is repeating Pastrana’s government acts. The social reform, which pretends to solve the inequality that the guerrillas are fighting for, uses a neoliberal model; it’s more likely to ensure a polarization and keep away the peace. The transitional justice model that the government wants to apply to guerrilla members and paramilitary is a joke, because the FARC and ELN don’t want to disarm their troops and reintegrate in exchange for taxis and scholarships. Their aspirations are not satisfied by the government offers in the Justice and Peace law.
In this way, the peace is still very far away. (Link to the article)
Last week, Semana magazine published a survey about President Santos showing his decreasing popularity. Mauricio Vargas states that nothing has happened that justifies the trend, but that’s exactly the problem. Santos is still over 50% in the surveys but the trend is clear: he dropped from 73% to 58% in Ipsos in one year and a half, in Gallup in 12 points in the same period of time and in CNC around 10.
However, Vargas questions the reason for this drop. According to him, the explanation is the inability and inefficacy of Santos’s government. An example of this is the President’s announcement of the construction of houses, roads, movement of population, etc. after the rainy season. A year and a half later nothing has changed.
The same happened with the new roads and bridges that were promised, and the changes in the health system and education. The members of the government haven’t done their job, perhaps because of fear or just ineptitude.
What is the solution then? Vargas states that the President should stop delegating in issues like Gramalote, and find out what it is really happening. He should give orders, sort out the problems, and remove members that are impeding the realization of the work.
The new idea of 100.000 houses for the poorest of the population is excellent according to Vargas, and the person appointed for the job, German Vargas is too. But the President has to give the orders to the mayors of the towns and to the Ministry of Finances to support the project. Otherwise, the 100.000 houses will go on the list of broken promises. (link the article)