Hard Line Wins in Colombia

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LOS ANGELES-- Former defense minister of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos was elected president last Sunday with a majority of the votes (69 percent). He replaces President Alvaro Uribe.

Antanas Mockus, Green Party candidate and former mayor of Bogota, won only 27 percent of the vote, a result that reflects his inability to present himself as a viable option for Colombians. However, voter apathy ran high in this year’s elections—56 percent of voters failed to turn up at the polls.

As a former member of Uribe’s cabinet, Santos is associated with both the successes and problems of “Uribism.” He says he wants to continue what Uribe has begun, which means solving the outgoing president’s problems, including mending relations with neighbors Venezuela and Ecuador, dealing with unemployment, and maintaining a tough stance on the government’s long-standing conflict with revolutionary guerilla organization FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia- People’s Army).

But editors of La Opinión write that voter apathy was the real winner in the election, with 56 percent of voters staying home. This reflects the failure of the call for change, editors write. On Sunday, Colombians voted for the status quo -- by either supporting Santos or staying home. Once Santos takes office on August 7, editors write, it will be more clear how much Santos will follow in Uribe’s footsteps, and how much he will create his own presidential path.

 

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