Colombia’s imperfect dictatorship

Colombia is heralded as one of the few Latin American countries not plagued by dictatorship. But how close is she to what Mario Vargas Llosa called a perfect dictatorship? Has the governing elite managed to hold on to power by convincing people they have a democratic choice while simultaneously and systematically dismantling all opposition and threat to their permanence in power? Read more…

FARC peace process “coming to an end”

The government’s top peace negotiator Humberto de la Calle, this week said the Havana dialogues were approaching their conclusion. Some took this as a threat to the FARC that the government would walk away from the table if it didn’t deescalate the guerrilla violence. The FARC “responded” by calling a month-long unilateral ceasefire.

But is this part of a game to soften the public up to the idea of a bilateral ceasefire in which the Colombian army halt all military action against the FARC? If so, President Santos is being well and truly outsmarted by the FARC negotiating team.  Read more…

Bogota, Athens of South America? Pah!

Bogota has been in a depressive slump for too long. The complacent belief that the city is “the Athens of South America” has allowed governors to rule with decadent indifference. Something must be done to arrest the decline of a city that looked more developed and prettier in black and white. We must banish a collective fatalism that whiffs of the last days of Pompeii.
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Don’t blame Colombians for FARC war

Kevin Howlett argues that while peace can only be achieved through negotiation, Colombians shouldn’t be castigated for wanting their president to shock and awe the guerrillas. Whether Colombians believe in peace or not, it is not they, but only the FARC, who can stop this nihilist war. The blame lies at the feet of the FARC (yes, and other actors too), not their victims.   Read more…

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.

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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 24 February, and that the public must be told in advance of this date.

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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 on a peace ticket, but despite the progress and the hype, in reality we are far from knowing whether he can deliver.

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