A New Colombian President.

by

Alvaro Uribe, President of Colombia

A victory for democratic principles. Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled 7-2 in denying the possibility of a voter referendum which, if passed, would have allowed Alvaro Uribe to run for a third term.

The extension of term limits  of Presidents seems like a common trend in Latin America as of late. Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, and Manuel Zelaya have all tried to extend their term limits through voter referendums designed to change their respective nations’ constitutions. Zelaya failed; Chavez and Morales were successful (although Morales does have a set limit).

Uribe does not plan on challenging the court’s decision. Does that mean Uribe has a higher respect of the rule of law than many of his counterparts? Maybe, but one must keep in mind that the United States, a strong ally of Colombia, has exerted pressure upon Uribe to not run for a third term. As the AP article mentions, it would look hypocritical if Uribe acted in the same way as others that the U.S. have consistently criticized as undemocratic.

The Security Situation

The pillar of Alvaro Uribe’s popularity(he has had a steady 70% approval rating amongst Colombians) has been the unprecedented improvement in security throughout vast swaths of the country since he has become president. The security situation is, as I have pointed out in an previous article, is still volatile. A new President may not be able to hold onto the progress that has been made. Yet, adhering to the lofty ideal of democracy is not without its risks. Here, the risk is palpable; a return to the guerilla/cocaine fueled violence and mayhem that consumed Colombia for so many years.

Juan Manuel Santos, favored to be the new President.

We shall see after May 30, 2010, when the election for Colombia’s new President takes place. Juan Manuel Santos, the defense minister under Alvaro Uribe’s administration, is currently the favored candidate, as Colombia Reports points out. Santos appears to be running on a “continuation of Uribe’s policies platform”, as he stated:

“The continuity of President Uribe’s policies are at stake…We can’t re-elect him, but let’s re-elect democratic security, social cohesion and investor confidence.”

There are several other candidates in the running, but if Uribe backs Santos, as appears to be the likely scenario, we will not see much of a change in the politics of Colombia. Let us hope that whoever does win, they work for a better Colombia for its people.

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