Colombia Politics

No car day is pointless populism

Once upon a time a previous Bogota mayor won, through a referendum, the right to call an annual “no car day” in the city. The idea was to encourage people to stop and think about the effect their daily commute had on the environment. No bad thing. Current mayor, Gustavo Petro, today held the second no car day of the year. And he wants another one before he finishes his mandate in December. Now Mr...

FARC peace accords signed by 22 February

Peace with the FARC guerrillas must be signed by 22 February to be put to a referendum on 25 October; the day of Colombia’s local and regional elections. Colombia’s Constitutional Court has ruled that President Santos must present any peace agreement with the Marxist rebels to Congress no later than...

Colombia’s search for peace, two years on

Colombia’s peace talks with the FARC guerrillas began exactly two years ago. Partial agreement has been reached on half the agenda. No previous attempt to end the 50 year war has come this far. But scepticism remains and opposition to the talks is hardening. Yes, President Santos won reelection this summer...

Peace, equality and education

The holy trinity. That’s what Colombia’s President Santos is promising in his second four year term. Peace, equality (or more precisely, equity) and education; the three pillars of the new administration. Any businessman will tell you to under promise and over deliver. Not a lesson Mr Santos appears...

Who will save Bogota?

The race to succeed Gustavo Petro as Mayor of Bogota is already under way, as 3 “big beasts” line up ahead of October 2015 election. If Colombia’s top weekly publication Semana is to be believed, those throwing their hats in the ring are Clara Lopez, Rafael Pardo and Pacho Santos. Perhaps left-wing Lopez who won 2 million votes in this year’s presidential election is the early favourite. But...

Why Starbucks in Colombia is a good thing

Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t be seen dead drinking Starbucks coffee. But ignore the small-minded souls who protest its arrival; Starbucks is a good thing for Colombia. Colombia is now opening her doors to global brands, and Colombians starved of outside influences should rejoice. Colombia’s...

Colombians vote for peace and for Santos

President Juan Manuel Santos is elected President of Colombia for a second, four year term with over 50% of the vote. Colombians have responded to the president’s cry to vote for peace, rejecting the hardline rhetoric of former president Alvaro Uribe Velez. Zuluaga, Uribe’s candidate (he himself was not permitted to run), lost by over 5% putting to death any idea that he might contest the result. Despite...

Colombia elects president amid climate of fear and loathing

32 million Colombians must choose today between fear and hatred. If turn out is over 50% it will be a minor miracle. There is even talk that if right-winger Oscar Ivan Zuluaga loses by a tight margin, his political patron ex-president Alvaro Uribe will contest the result. Uribe accuses incumbent Juan Manuel Santos of widespread vote-buying, particularly in Colombia’s Caribbean coastal region, and believes...