“Empanada” Elections in Colombia: same old story, Chavez, Uribe, Ortega..
Photo Getty Images: President Chavez (Venezuela) and President Uribe (Colombia)
When the anti-immigrant and unkind Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo from Colorado, came to Miami a few years ago, in order to participate in a university forum, he did a pejorative statement towards the Central and South American countries. At that forum, Mr. Tancredo said that our “banana” republics were managed as “small private farms”, and I can recall my reaction to him, I wanted “to eat him alive”, and I felt my blood was almost burning inside me. Even the Cuban-American congressmen from South Florida categorically rejected his words. At that moment, I thought his sayings were a new sign of racism and intolerance toward the Hispanic world and that his findings were totally unjustified.
Although I do not like to admit it, today, almost 5 years after my encounter with Mr. Tancredo, I put my hand on my heart and do an act of reflection on the situation of our countries and then I do acknowledge that most of our countries are operated as farms by populist leaders –from the left or right – and that they do what they want with our nations, included, of course, the production of a lot of bananas.
There are many examples of “caudillos” (populist autocratic leaders) in Latin America. Perhaps two of the most pathetic leaders are Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chavez, both elected by popular vote, both left-leaning, leading countries with serious social problems and both with extreme personal power ambitions of power that go so far as to perpetuate in power.
Daniel Ortega, a guerrilla without further education, he left arms and convert to politician being defeated several times until finally, he could win the elections in Nicaragua, the poorest and most indebted country in the continent, after Haiti.
His friend Hugo Chavez -an old lieutenant colonel- on the contrary received the richest Hispanic country in the continent. A ‘farm’ called Venezuela filled with oil and beautiful women, yet after over a decade in power, it does not stand out for having modern cities, high technology and big businesses, but for the total lack of the most basic services needed by a society to live with: potable water and energy/light. Chavez also stands out for allegedly support and shelter the Colombian guerrillas, and of having links with terrorist groups like ETA, besides thousands of complaints on Chavez about his lack of respect for media freedom, for censoring the media and for being an accomplice of the human rights violations in Venezuela.
Another major banana farm, literally speaking, is surely my beloved Colombia, where despite having a right-wing caudillo, anything can happen. A country with many riches and perhaps the third nation in importance to the U.S. foreign policy, only behind Brazil and Argentina. However, Colombia has had to live immersed in a war against drug trafficking and leftist guerrillas for more than 30 years. This is a good justification for Colombia not being among the leader countries in the world, or as regional leader to be less optimistic.
Recent cases such as the “parapolitica” is a clear example that anything can happen to Colombia and that the end justifies the means. So are today more than 50 members of Congress, excluding governors and councilors, being investigated and convicted for a weak justice system for having direct links with the paramilitary leaders and drug trafficking.
The most absurd of all this situation is that the parliamentary elections in Colombia just passed and the same sinister characters -acting from the prison- managed to put their relatives as members of the Colombian Congress and they also plotting the creation of new political parties.
Worst of all is that the shaky Colombian law does not prohibit this acts and when someone attempted to talk about it in the parliament, were the same “founding fathers” who did not want to ban this most serious form of politics driven by convicts from a cell.
And speaking of these last elections for the Senate, House of Representatives and even internal elections within some political parties to choose presidential candidates, apparently serious anomalies have occurred on the election day last March 14.
It is inconceivable that the National Citizen Registry , which is the body in charge of the electoral process in Colombia, have signed a contract for 77 billion Colombian pesos, about 40 million U.S. dollars, giving to a private company the exclusive rights and responsibility for the process of counting the votes and give the final results, and that this has been a complete failure.
Just as I write this blog has been almost 5 days and the people still not know the results of the internal consultation by the Conservative Party, with two competing pre-candidates , the former minister and former ambassador Noemi Sanin and former Agriculture Minister Andres Felipe Arias, better known as Uribito (“little Uribe”) for his ideological proximity to the current President Alvaro Uribe, and main protagonist of one of the biggest political scandals in recent months in Colombia.
To complete this picture, the same National Citizen and electoral Registry would have been charged with violating the electoral decreed prohibiting the consume of alcoholic beverages , in order to avoid problems and riots in the country and make it easier the control of public order.
Apparently , in the same campus some waiters served whisky at dawn on Monday to several officials of the Registry. The complaint would have been made by members of the campaign of Andres Felipe Arias who submitted photos that prove this.
Given this electoral circus, typical in our banana republics, President Uribe has asked the attorney general to thoroughly investigate what happened during the day of counting and to verify electoral results and also publicly asked this institutions (the Registry , the courts and the National Electoral Council to analyze the present situation and do something to assure all Colombians a transparent and clean process during the presidential elections to be held in May.
Blog published by Ivan Gerardo Cruz - Author/Contributor of Bloggers of The Americas
And as if that were not enough, this time it was the international observers of the OAS (Organization of American States) which denounced the vote-buying in the departments of the Atlantic Coast. Together with electoral absenteeism, the buy of votes is a serious election offense , that happens every four years..
So, let us wait and see what happens with these investigations.. For now the only thing certain is that this whole spectacle of inefficiency, indiscipline and misconduct affects the good international reputation of a country which has always been proud for its respect for democracy.