30 May 2014 ~ 1 Comentario

Juan Manuel Santos’ two mistakes

by Carlos Alberto Montaner

Juan Manuel Santos

On June 15, Colombians will return to the polling booths to choose their president in a runoff. This election transcends the borders of Colombia and is of interest to all of Latin America.

In neighboring Venezuela, for example, Nicolás Maduro is crossing his fingers, hoping that Juan Manuel Santos may remain in power, even though he is no communist. After all, it was Santos who declared that Hugo Chávez, despite their differences, was his “new best friend,” while Óscar Iván Zuluaga and his mentor, Álvaro Uribe, never stop describing Chavism and 21st-Century socialism as a dangerous enemy of all freedoms.  

According to a Cifras y Conceptos survey commissioned by Radio Caracol, President Santos and challenger Zuluaga are tied. That’s an amazing finding, which shows Santos’ erosion, who rose to power in 2010 with 70 percent of the votes and became the president with the greatest voter support in the nation’s history.

Who will finally triumph in this election? As we know, the first round was won by economist Zuluaga with almost 30 percent of the votes, 450,000 more than his opponent. The polls had placed him five or six points behind. Second place went to President Santos, with barely 25 percent. The polls had indicated that he would be close to 30 percent. Curiously, the predicted results were reversed.

What happened? In my opinion, Santos committed two fatal errors that are about to cost him the presidency, unless he manages to forcefully turn his campaign around.

First mistake: to confront Álvaro Uribe. Santos knows, and acknowledged it a thousand times publicly, that he owed his election victory to former President Uribe and Uribe’s huge popularity. Then and today, Uribe is the only political leader capable of mobilizing a major sector of Colombian society.

Although Zuluaga is Santos’ official adversary, to the voters (unconsciously) the contest is between Santos and Uribe. In 2010, Colombians voted massively for Santos against Antanas Mockus, convinced that Santos would continue the work of his predecessor.

In reality, they voted for Uribe against Mockus through Santos, because Uribe couldn’t run for a third term. Now, they will probably vote for Zuluaga against Santos because they consider Zuluaga to be the representative of Uribism.

Second mistake: Santos bet his entire political capital on the peace talks with the FARC. The year 2014 marks half a century of FARC existence. Colombians, with reason, say that violence is a way of life to which those communist narcoguerrillas have become accustomed. They will hardly abandon it to reinsert themselves into the peaceable life of law-abiding Colombians. One cannot imagine the late Mono Jojoy selling insurance or managing a coffee shop.

What’s usually ignored is the other face of the same phenomenon. For most of Colombian society, that cruel confrontation is a chronic problem to which they have also become accustomed, but without abandoning the idea of defeating merciless enemies who have done horrible things. The FARC have the support of only 3 percent of the population.

Therein lies Uribe’s enormous popularity. It is not due to his charisma, a personality trait that nobody has managed to define. It is due to the fact that he cornered the narcoguerrillas, confronted Hugo Chávez on the international stage and retook control of the highways. During his administration, the army liquidated some of the most notorious FARC leaders and the number of insurgents dropped from 20,000 to fewer than 7,000, returning to the citizens their faith in military victory against an enemy they don’t want to forgive but to defeat, or at least sign a pact with it, after it unilaterally declares a ceasefire, surrenders its weapons and submits itself to the courts of justice.

In the days of Uribe, for the first time in many years, Colombians felt proud of a State that seemed capable of achieving victory. Santos, who was never more popular as when he was Uribe’s defense minister and killed guerrilla leader Raúl Reyes, wants to go into history as the president who achieved peace at any cost. That’s not exactly what his compatriots desire. They want peace, but not at any price.

One Response to “Juan Manuel Santos’ two mistakes”

  1. el inagotable 30 May 2014 at 5:50 pm Permalink

    Dice Alejo que no cree en supersticiones …. y luego opina que es falso que pisar mierda de perro traiga mala suerte.

    Alejo, que habla el lenguaje de los materialistas dialecticos, seguramente tampoco cree en la magia o vudu, pero deberia. Y hablo con conocimiento de causa pues, a mi, ya ese perro me mordio, cuando resulte victima de un poderoso hechizo o magia negra que hacen algunos haitianos consistente en dejar abandnado dinero cagado con la certeza de que el venga detras e ingenueamente se lo embolsille, se apoderera tambien de toda su mala leche con las finanzas.

    El asunto ocurrio en el anno 2000. Lugar: Areas verdes de la Planta de la Motorola unicada en Boynton Beach. Florida. El hechizo, me lo hizo un haitiano arruinado porque era jugador compulsivo en las tragaperras del Hard Rock Casino de Fort Lauderdelle, que logro curarse de ese mal a costa mia y, que luego de hacerse mi amigo me lo confeso con lagrimas en los ojos mientras me invitaba a unas cervezas y me dijo que no me preocuopara pues el hechizo tendria solamente una duracion de siete annos.

    Y efectivamente, en siete annos

    Me aficione a perder dinero en las tragaperras de los casinos.

    perdi mi trabajo porque la Motorola cerro sus puertas. Dicen los economistas que dicho cierre se debio a la fiera competencia de rivales como Erickson y Samsung asi como las ventajas que le proporcionaba a la Motorola establecerse fuera del pais luego de la aprobacion del Tratado de Libre Comercio entre Mexico y los EE UU , Pero yo se que cerro porque el hechizo era demasiado potente y termino por afectar mis finanzas y las de dicha corporacion multinacional donde yo laboraba.

    Ademas de perder mi empleo, sufri dos divorcios- Y sino me pusieron los cuernos fue solo porque el hechizo en cuestion estaba orientado a afectar solo la esfera monetaria y no se involucraba en el mundillo de los relaciones matrimoniales de la gente.

    Sufri un accidente de transito, Mi Subaru, Japones, resulto perdida total. Perdi mi licencia de conduccion que recupere- logicamente- siete annos despues y debi declarer Capitulo Siete de la ley de bancarrotas para limpiar mis deudas. Mis dos hijos varones se vieron envueltos en enredos amorosos con chicas , tambien adolescentes, pero unos annos menores, ambas. y tuve que correr con los enredos legales y gastos para sacarlos a los dos de sus espectivas prisiones

    Recuerdo el aciago dia en que oculto en unos matorrales , descubri el fatidico billetito de cien dolares cruzado longitudinalmente por una linea de color marrron y en lugar de pensar en magia negra me dije mientras observaba a mi alrededor con la illusion de encontrar – horror de horrors- mas billetitos de la misma denominacion:

    ‘Seguramente que paso por aqui un tipo podrido en dinero, con tremendas cagaleras y no encontro nada mejor con que limpiarse”

    Continuara


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