Colombia at crossroads; show us promised land Mr President
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos goes to the polls in May promising to bring peace to Colombia if he is re-elected for a second term.
Rumours say the campaign slogan will be “Unidos por la paz” (“United for peace”).
But is peace really enough?
Colombia is at a crossroads. After a decade of record levels of foreign investment, with peace on the horizon, and an economy now bigger than Argentina`s, there is a unique opportunity for Colombia to secure its place at the top table.
But Colombia faces real and structural problems that block the way.
A politician not willing to show us the way to the promised land does not deserve another four years in power.
Time then, Mr President to tell how you will fix:
1. Colombia`s education system which last year was rated among the world`s worst.
2. A health service you promised to reform three years ago but remains unfit for purpose.
3. Infrastructure, for which you promised billions of dollars of investment but have failed to get spades in the ground.
4. Corruption; despite your government passing a host of legislation, Transparency International last year gave Colombia its worst score in 10 years.
5. A sclerotic justice system where – according to the World Bank – it takes four years to enforce a contract.
6. Rural Colombia and the agribusiness on which 50% of the nation is dependent. We`re six months on from the nation-wide rural protests but we still await a plan for a sustainable future for the nation`s farmers.
7. Law and order. You say crime is down and certainly homicides rates are moving in the right direction, but Colombians feel less not more safe since you have come to power.
8. Poverty, you have made progress in some areas but 10 per cent of the nation still live on little more than a dollar a day and 40% of Colombians are poor according to your own figures.
Politics should be about solutions to these and many other problems facing the nation. 2014`s election campaign has avoided this debate.
Yes, Colombia Politics supports Santos` bold efforts to negotiate with FARC guerrillas to end 50 years of conflict. But this election cannot be reduced to a vote on whether to support peace or to continue with the war.
Time to end the demagoguery Mr President and tell us what you`ll do to make Colombia the country its people deserve.