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Colombian Elections: why I’ll go with Juan Manuel Santos.

Juan Manuel Santos - Presidential Candidate in Colombia

With less than two months to the presidential elections in Colombia, the race for the presidency gets a lot more emotional for those who somehow dream about the possibility of defeating the candidate of Uribe, Juan Manuel Santos, expected to become the big winner for most Colombians. For me personally it’s exciting to maintain long discussions with many friends who change candidates like they change their underwear, without any shame.

The political and electoral climate dominates the front pages of newspapers , radio and television newscasts.  New political partnerships are negotiated and sealed without even waiting for the results of the first electoral round,  which clearly indicates that there are several candidates that are aware of their lack of possibilities within the 27 million Colombians that acts to exercise their right to vote on May 31.
The first one to understand that  was Prof. Sergio Fajardo, a former mayor of Medellin, who even did not  managed to get enough votes in the parliamentary elections to make up his own party political. In this way, and taking into consideration his poor results in polls that placed him as the last in the presidential preferences, Prof Fajardo decided to run as vice president of another professor, the former mayor of Bogotá Mr. Antanas Mockus (of ukrainan origin).

Mockus  was the winner of the primaries of the young Green Party -competing against two former mayors of Bogotá, Peñalosa and Garzon- with a relatively good image as major of  Bogota, the Colombian capital.

Another candidate in difficulties, with low chances of moving to the second round is German Vargas Lleras, the candidate of the Radical Change party (Cambio Radical), previously one of the strongest pro-Uribe which four years ago decided to give up Uribe due to the initiative of President´s Alvaro Uribe second reelection.

Vargas Lleras has just published its intention to vote for Juan Manuel Santos if he can not get enough votes for a runoff. 

There will be a runoff, due to the fact that none of the candidates reaches 50 percent of the votes in the first.
There is another presidential candidate. Her name is Noemin Sanin, and eight years ago she was then the presidential candidate of the Conservative Party that was defeated by Uribe. She then joined Uribe to become the colombian ambassador to Spain and nowadays she is back again into the colombian political arena under the conservative banner. She has not been able to avoid the desertion of several of the principal chiefs Conservatives,  former presidents of the country and great patriarchs of the colombian conservatism. These conservative leaders have enlisted  with Santos and Uribe, which is one of the things that can do more damage a presidential candidate.  These conservatives can not forgive Sanin for being ambassador and former Minister for Uribe, they can not forgive her blatant change of party, change of political ideas and much less political opportunism.

Already there are those who dare to say that she could count on strong support from the Liberal Party candidate, Rafael Pardo, who would be much closer to Sanin, than to the ‘liberals’ Vargas Lleras and Santos, with whom he had serious fights, nearly of personal nature.  But of all this nothing is completely certain.  We are hereby talking  about traditional politicians, and  as usual anything can happen with them…

In that vein apparently the only one who does not have any plans for a possible political alliance is the former guerrilla fighter and parliamentarian Gustavo Petro, who despite of standing  as a moderate and center left candidate, he has not been able to take of him this terrible tagline of being a guerrilla and former terrorist as a member of the subversive movement M-19.
Petro cleverly avoid any close encounter, flatter nor dealings with the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, but  despite this strategy  the results in the polls show him down and increasingly losing popular  favor.

I am a total optimist and I am almost certain that the “uribism” (folloers of President Uribe) will remain in office at least eight more years. I am convinced that at least two-thirds of  Alvaro Uribe followers will end voting for Juan Manuel Santos, which will ensure him a clear victory next May 31st.

Now if the scene were a little more complicated and Noemi Sanin and the other candidates (the “teachers”) regained political ground during the next weeks, Santos would have the support of a large segment of the voters of the traditional Liberal and Conservative parties. Also he would have other important electoral support from the Party “Cambio Radical (Radical Change Party) which is in essence composed of many followers of Uribe.

It is clear that the great majority of the Colombians does not want more war in our country. But sadly the internal conflict has not yet finished and we continue to expect increasingly better military results in fighting terrorist groups and drug traffickers that still offend in the country.
This is the main objective of Juan Manuel Santos when he takes the office in Palace of Nariño. Santos symbolizes the continuity of the ideas of Alvaro Uribe, who could not stand for a third election contest because the Supreme Court found irregularities in the referendum procedures that the Congress had previously supported, even without putting into consideration the will of more than 12 million Colombians who wanted to have four more years of Alvaro Uribe as head of the country’s destiny.
Maybe a electoral alliance of the presidential candidates Fajardo and Mockus would surely give good dividends in the areas of education and civic culture,  but not in other fields of government like security,  governance, foreign affairs, because they (Mockus and Fajardo)  lack the necessary experience to deal with these issues.  The presidential candidate Mockus was recognized for doing some good things as mayor of Bogota, but he was not so efficient in using the public budget and had to return part of it.

On the other hand, when you look at the presidential candidate Fajardo,  all I say is that I can see an honest and upright man, but he lacks experience, leadership, knowledge, courage and political education to aspire to be president. So Mockus sees him as his vice president, but I even dare to say that Fajardo being vicepresident  would be too much due to his lack of political background and experience.
When I speak of these two teachers is because maybe they are the most popular among the undecided voters…

About Noemín Sanin, some “evil”  tongues say that she will repeat the steps of Andres Pastrana, that means to open a “free territory” and  seek a dialogue with the FARC. Many considered her too naive and opportunistic, and that Mrs Sanin will not do it to the runoff, specially due to the existence of many desertors among the members of her  conservative party.

Ivan Gerardo Cruz - Contributor of Bloggers of The Americas

It is better not even mention the presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, the former guerrilla… The only thing I remember is that thanks to a stupid pardon, he today makes politics rather than being in jail paying for all crimes and murders.

So, please place your bets, gentlemen.      I’ll go with Juan Manuel Santos.

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    “For me personally it’s exciting to maintain long discussions with many friends who change candidates like they change their underwear, without any shame.”

    Like Santos that changes from political parties “like he changes his underwear, without any shame”

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    May 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Mmmm this article is not bad but it has several inconsistencies. One of the many is that candidate Antanas Mockus’ parents are not of Ukrainian, but Lithuanian origin. Other is that it only comments on the good things of the present goverment but it has not talked about the ridiculous acts of corruption that have happened in Colombia as a consequence of bad administration.

    A recently terrible health reform almost curtailed (even more) benefits from health insurance plans just because the goverment has not been able to stabilize a suitable health plan. The system was such in a critical state that it was declared on emergency a couple of months ago.

    Besides, it does not talk of the vast list of human rights violations that have happened. Just to mention a few: The killing of innocent lives in the hands of the army, in order to increase in-combat casualties against the communist guerrillas. Other: The pursuit, threatening and in a few cases murder of members of the opposition parties and their respective congress men, journalists, writers, politicians, etc. What makes it worse it that these pursuits were done by DAS (Colombian FBI) and were apparently ordered by some high rank politicians. The agency in charge of homeland security, supposed to protect citizens, was found guilty of many of those accusations, though investigations have been slowed down. Many suspect that functionaries of the present government are involved in these, and for obvious reasons nobody dares to investigate them.

    Last comment for the author: It’s a nice post, but I would encourage you to inform yourself better. I would REALLY think the matter, not once but twice, before thinking to live 4 more years of such violations completely unpunished. Law is for everyone, not just for those who decide to obey it. We can’t be so selfish to not think about such serious problems even if it has not touched our own families; not doing so, is being anti-constitutional since the Colombian constitution clearly states that there are several rights that are to be respected and recognized to every Colombian citizen. It’s a big leap backwards to stomp over the rights of people to justify the wealth of a few. In fact, that’s what created the communist guerrillas that cause so much trouble nowadays in Colombia. Bullets don’t stop bullets… only human blood does.

  48. Eartha Braget

    May 4, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    You’re making a lot of legitimate points with your write-up and would probably believe the majority of.

  49. Antonio Ramos

    May 1, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Colombiano independiente

    No es como dicen: que Mockus es el símbolo de un cambio necesario. Los demás candidatos también pregonan lo mismo con matices, incluyendo a Santos que proclama seguirá lo logrado por Uribe pero pasando a una etapa de prosperidad social. Ahí está el ex-guerrillero Petro que no se anda por las ramas, proclive a una Colombia rojita. Así que el punto del cambio es un debate tan interesante como delicado, el futuro colombiano está en juego.

    Es inobjetable que Uribe comenzó los cambios, por eso hoy Colombia atrae inversionistas, turismo, muchos colombianos regresan de la emigración, funciona la gobernabilidad y la guerrilla está a la defensiva, más del 50% de los colombianos quieren al presidente saliente y lo hubieran reelegido. Es la realidad que tratan de tapar los interesados en imponer por votos un nuevo tipo de cambio. ¿De qué cambio se trata? ¿Por qué el matemático y líder del partido verde Antanas Mockus ha sido aupado? ¿Qué le espera a Colombia?

    Dos puntos candentes son: ¿por qué Mockus es un relámpago que se ha colocado al principio de las encuestas, superando a Juan Manuel Santos, favorito de Uribe, y qué hay de verdad sobre la imtromisión de Chávez?. Hay que recordar aquello de que “en política lo real es lo que no se ve”. De repente una espectacular publicidad y la sicosis de las encuestas han elevado a Mockus al cielo de la mítica, hacia donde todos miran con admiración u animadversión. Los clubes de una gigantesca red de internet bien articulada, con predominante presencia joven y de misteriosos “teóricos” por-verde, se han ocupado de santificarlo y convertirlo en el mesías del cambio, la versión verde de Obama, la versión excéntrica de un sueño que se llama futuro.

    Por qué Mockus en poco tiempo ha logrado el empuje de una de las operaciones de publicidad, sofística y proseletismo más grandes, caras y bien montadas que se recuerdan en América Latina, lo que supone invertir mucho dinero en imagen y en movilización, y desde luego entretejer y coaligar intereses, conexiones y cupos de poder. Dicen sus seguidores que ha bastado con la simpatía que provoca y porque hizo un buen trabajo como alcalde de Bogotá, aparte de que “el compañero Mockus quiere cambios sociales”.

    La simpatía de repente se ha tornado irreflexiva y tsunámica, sin más. Los seguidores, mayormente de la clase media baja y los pobres desilusionados, son ciegos creyentes del discurso verde, lógicamente están hartos de vivir relegados y mal. Los intelectuales que lo apoyan buscan algo más que un cambio: la realización existencial e ideológica oportunista. En los jóvenes, como ocurre históricamente, hay un entusiasmo generacional que los lleva a creer que el camino más fácil para vivir mejor es un cambio. Ni siquiera piensan en las consecuencias, porque no quieren estar contra la corriente ni les preocupa las lecciones de la historia. No olvidar que las redes sociales de internet pagadas millonariamente y encabezadas por equipos de jóvenes fueron clave en la victoria obamista en Estados Unidos, pero ahora son anti-Obama.

    Pero, ¿quién más apoya a Mockus? Es fácil comprobar que cuenta con la simpatía de la izquierda oficial y de la izquierda del closet (de doble moral), así como de los comunistas, pro-castristas, pro-chavistas y de otras fuerzas que no se acreditan como tales, pero que militan en las filas liberales tradicionales. Petro es su amigo, así que ya tiene su voto en segunda vuelta. También parece que recibirá el respaldo oportunista de Noemí Sanín y de los tontos útiles políticamente correctos. Las células populares de base auspicidas por Chávez en Colombia lo adoran y tal vez sean las más activas a su favor. Tiene de su parte a los subversivos de toda laya, desde narcos, paras hasta las FARC. Aunque Mockus ha dicho que será duro con la guerrilla, lo más probable es que no pueda eludir la presión de los intereses propensos al “diálogo de paz”, política que sería un segundo aire para la recuperación de sus mermadas fuerzas.

    ¿Y Chávez qué pinta en todo esto? Sus discursos cotidianos anti-uribistas, el inmiscuirse con falacias en la política interna colombiana y una innegable propensión favoritista hacia Mockus revelan su interés en “cambiar” a Colombia. Los venezolanos lo saben. Los analistas en el mundo lo destacan. Sin dudas, a quienes más beneficiaría la derrota del uribismo es a Chávez y las FARC. Y la apuesta por Mockus es parte del ajedrez estratégico donde Chávez está moviendo sus petrodólares y preparando el ajuste de cuentas que será posible con la alianza de sus afines ideológicos dentro de Colombia.

    Dicen que Mockus mantendría a raya al autoritario presidente socialista de Venezuela. No es cierto. Es público que Mockus manifestó admiración por Chávez, aunque ahora use la retórica para negarlo. Además, un Mockus presidente, con una Colombia tan polarizada, pasaría por el riesgo de la ingobernabilidad. Internamente, muchos de sus aliados están desacreditados y no son legítimos “compañeros de viaje”. Chávez aprovecharía las tensiones y tendencias internas así como el manejable contexto regional, con Lula a su lado, para tener más presencia en Colombia, lo que sería una “pax chavista”, una intromisión sutil y contundente primero, hasta el total renacimiento de las “condiciones objetivas y subjetivas” revolucionarias (así dicen los marxistas). Esto es lo que ha hecho en los países que lo siguen en la aventura anti-norteamericana del socialismo del siglo XXI y el ALBA.

    El tema de si Mockus es presidenciable es lo más candente. La nueva imagen de político sapiente que le han fabricado excluye la ética y los convencionalismos. Con Mockus no se metan. Por supuesto, el pasado de su contrincante sí cuenta, pero el nuevo ídolo es exonerable. Es curioso que tanta gente lo exima de haber sido una rara avis en la política colombiana, con un estilo apayasado y desideologizado. Dicen que no es rojo, ni blanco tradicional, sino verde. Los jóvenes, que gustan del espectáculo, disfrutaron cuando mostró su trasero desnudo a un auditorio, cierta vez se agarró los genitales, se ha vestido de superman, entre tantas “travesuras”, debe parecerle el más moderno y divertido de los colombianos.

    Por supuesto, millones de colombianos también lo cuestionan y prefieren no tener a un presidente que les recuerde las payaserías e idioteces de los Abdalá Bucaram y Hugo Chávez. Pero, como está demostrado, ninguna bufonada ha descalificado a los presidentes populistas “redentores” en los últimos tiempos. La política latinoamericana es tan irracional y amarga como circense. Perfecta para aquellos que han planificado revertirla como un escenario de ingeniería social postmoderno, que pasa por la seudodemocracia a la “liberación” totalitaria rojita mal llamada bolivariana.

    ¿Y si gana Mockus? Las encuestas lo dan como ganador. Las matemáticas no están claras aún. Tampoco se sabe cómo reaccionará a última hora el pueblo colombiano ante su conciencia. Pudiera ser que la madurez política de los colombianos y el fantasma chavista inclinen la balanza hacia Santos. El destino se va a decidir en la conciencia. Muchos colombianos ya están convencidos que el día de las elecciones, Chávez votará por Mockus y cambiará la historia de Colombia.

    Si es así, ¿de qué cambio hablamos? En verdad, de ninguno. Será una evolución corregida de la política tradicional colombiana pero más conflictiva, con dos nuevos ingredientes imprevisibles, el izquierdismo verde y el chavismo mediático. Se impondrá la política real. Habrá liberación de rehenes, una guerrilla reanimada que buscará legitimizarse, ajuste de cuentas, nuevos ricos, algunos reajustes sociales para compensar a los votantes, mucho populismo, más interferencia de Chávez, los inversionistas extranjeros pensarán en los riesgos de poner su dinero en territorio del miedo; Mockus buscará alianzas para poder darse a respetar, y luego veremos a muchos decir que la política es sucia, habrá descontentos, estarán los jóvenes desilusionados y si se portan mal, nuevamente Mockus les mostrará el trasero.

    (ver versión en inglés y francés)
    Circulado en la red: Vote por Colombia, No a Chávez

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