#Polo

Colombian left; human rights hypocrites?

derechos-humanos

Many on Colombia`s left have made their name defending human rights.

So why is it that some of these very same politicians cannot bring themselves to stand up for the human rights of Venezuelans?

Why is it that they either remain silent, or worse still take the side of the government that oppresses and crushes dissent?

Why is it that not only in Colombia but across Latin America there are politicians unwilling to fight for human rights when “their side” is in power?

Are human rights not human rights if protesters are rebelling against left wing governments?

Imagine this.

A left wing politician is taken prisoner by a far right government.  His crime? To organize a march in protest at the government`s hardline policies.

The government`s secret service and hit squads fire live bullets into the crowds who`ve come out to support their leader. Reports say protestors were raped by the butt of a gun, beaten and tortured. The prisons minister tweets that her opponents are “shit scared” of her armed mobs. And the media reporting on this are threaten, harassed or taken off air.

So what happens next?

Neighbouring countries pressure for the prisoner`s release. Diplomatic ties are cut off with the right wing government. Across the continent they condemn the action and label the government a fascist dictatorship. And human rights NGOs campaign day and night for the release of the prisoner.

Change the left wing prisoner for right winger Leopoldo Lopez and the right wing government for Maduro`s administration.

Do you hear the condemnation from Presidents Correa, Kirchner or Morales? Have the Colombian human rights activists in the Polo Democratic party stood up to Maduro or campaigned for the release of Lopez?

No. Absolutely not.

Instead, look at this from Clara Lopez, the presidential candidate for the Polo Democrats.

lopeztweet

“Polo rejects the attempted coup in Venezuela”.

Now I like Clara, she ordinarily strikes me as a democrat. Check out her twitter background, it`s a photo of students marching. She believes in direct action, and protest. Clara, do you support only those who march against governments you disagree with?

And this from former Liberal Party Senator and now Marcha Patriotica Leader, Piedad Cordoba a “defender of human rights” according to her profile.

piedadtweet

“President Maduro we support you with all our love and friendship. Onwards!!”

Hang on Piedad. Your political movement is called “March” you organize protests across Colombia and yet you support a leader whose troops fire live bullets into student protestors?

Alongside this there are people like Ivan Cepeda who has carved himself a career as a “defender of human rights” as he boasts on his twitter account.  Standing up for those oppressed or threatened by overbearing governments or by hit squads is what he does 24 hours a day. So any tweet from him on the political prisoner or on the reports of torture in Venezuela? You guessed it, diddly squat. I guess he wants the Polo press release about the “attempted coup” to express his view.

I`m sure some of you are saying, well, maybe they don`t want to get involved in the business of a foreign country.  Fine but Cordoba and Lopez are actively supporting Maduro – they are already involved.

And I`m sure you`re asking why I`m picking on what the left are or are not saying. Look, I`m not suggesting it`s everyone on the left – far from it. There are sensible moderate left wingers, of course.

What I find hypocritical is that the left are supposed to be champions of human rights and can be great campaigners for those who have their rights ignored or violated. That is what they do, what they fight on in Colombia day and night.

So not to join forces with those protesting against an authoritarian government is not only hypocritical, but seems to me is also a fundamental betrayal of left wing values.

If you`re a left winger how can you support a government that oppresses its people?

State violence is state violence. Oppression is oppression. Censorship is censorship. Torture is torture.

Human rights are universal.

La edad del hielo

639x360_1358202829_SANTOS_zps09813eb1

 

Guest piece by Miguel Benito Lázaro.

Cuando unas vacaciones llegan a su fin solemos comprobar -algunos con alegría y otros con desazón- que, tras el descanso, todo -o casi- sigue igual. Tras Navidades he constatado que eso es muy cierto en lo que se refiere al panorama de la política electoral colombiana, subsumida en estado de hibernación.

El presidente Santos sigue en el todo y nada a la vez. Acaricia la posibilidad reeleccionista sin declararlo abiertamente -en esto sigue el estilo del expresidente Álvaro Uribe, que bajo crípticas declaraciones nunca manifestó claramente su vocación, dejando que otros removiesen cielo y tierra para abrir la posibilidad de un tercer período presidencial-, pero sabe que su suerte depende de lo que ocurra en La Habana.

Con la agenda reformista estancada, -muy lejos de las pretensiones de modernización radical originarias-, la Unidad Nacional desgastada -aunque sobrevive gracias a los equilibrios burocráticos y el reparto de puestos-, sin dar un paso en la supuesta refundación liberal que Santos iba a encabezar y, sobre todo, con un gobierno que sigue siendo percibido por los ciudadanos como burocrático, elitista, distante, incapaz de ejecutar las reformas aprobadas, todo languidece a la espera de las noticias de Cuba, convertidas en el catalizador que rescate o hunda definitivamente la imagen del presidente Santos y de su acción de gobierno

¿Aprovechan otras estructuras políticas para tomar la iniciativa? Por supuesto que no.

La izquierda vive en su pequeño, permanente y complaciente caos. El Polo parece no querer asumir que las fracturas causadas por la corrupción de los hermanos Moreno, la salida de Petro y la disidencia de parte de sus miembros siguen ahí. El PDA se deja llevar plácidamente por las aguas sin advertir que, si nadie toma el timón, el destino final es la catarata que puede devorar a mañana a Clara López y pasado a Jorge Enrique Robledo.

La aventura de Petro y sus Progresistas no se ha consolidado un ápice. La plataforma electoral no logra evolucionar hacia un partido -en teoría esa iba a ser la tarea de Navarro Wolff- y la acción de gobierno del alcalde parece diseñada como un acto de autoinmolación, más que como la base de una aspiración presidencial. Sin estructura y sin ejecutoria, con constantes cambios de rumbo e improvisaciones ¿qué puede representar Progresistas en el escenario político colombiano?

Los verdes siguen en su descomposición y desbandada. Con Mockus fuera, “Lucho” Garzón en el gobierno y Peñalosa en el limbo, Fajardo, indolente, no asume su condición de líder natural de la organización deja que el Partido tienda a la disgregación y la inoperancia. En esto, el Partido Verde se muestra como buen discípulo del Polo, dispuesto a repetir los mismos errores que, tras haber alcanzado la segunda vuelta en elecciones presidenciales, llevan a la marginalidad electoral.

En la derecha, el uribismo, que anunció en julio de 2012 su intención de presentar un candidato presidencial que compitiese con Juan Manuel Santos, tampoco ha sido capaz de concretar nada. Hasta el momento, una cáscara vacía bajo el ampuloso nombre de Puro Centro Democrático. No hay ni precandidatos a la presidencia ni mecanismos para elegir a dicho aspirante a Nariño. No hay listas para próximos comicios. No hay partido ni movimiento. Sólo hay especulaciones sobre un puñado de nombres, reuniones y rumores. Si están decididos a contender en las elecciones, por qué la demora.

La Colombia política parece hibernada, aunque bajo el hielo hay movimientos que tendrán que concretarse más pronto que tarde. El momento de despertar se acerca, porque en 2013 hay elecciones, antesala de presidenciales en 2014. Y eso lo sabe todo el mundo ¿no?

Miguel Benito Lázaro es analista político, docente de la Universidad de Externado de Colombia en relaciones internacionales, y panelista invitado de diferentes programas de opinión nacionales.

Texto aparecido originalmente en la Revista Posición el 23 de enero de 2013

Colombia´s third way? How the left can save itself

IMAGEN-10932433-2

Colombia´s favourite ex-guerrilla Antonio Navarro Wolff hopes to upset the applecart by taking on Colombia´s two political heavyweights, Ex-President Uribe and current President Juan Manuel Santos in next year´s elections.

Navarro Wolff is the name behind a new political movement – Pidimos la Palabra – that hopes to bring together the voices of the “centre” “centre-left” and “left” to present an alternative to the hyped polarization between the Uribe and Santos camps.

The former M19 leader has grown tired of the media´s obsession with the fight between the ex-president and his old defence minister, and believes, for the health of Colombian democracy, the voters need an non right, centre-right option on the ballot paper come 2014.

Señor Navarro Wolff has been quick to point out that he himself is not seeking election, either to congress or to the presidency (he is a failed presidential candidate), but instead has been working with sectors within the Green, and Progresistas parties. He wants to draw on those who supported Antanas Mockus – the surprise package in the 2010 Presidential Elections – as well as though on the left, drawn to the politics of Gustavo Petro. Navarro Wolff was Petro´s second in command early last year, before he left the Mayor of Bogotá´s ailing administration (if not under a cloud, then under less than happy circumstances).

The official opposition party in congress, the left-wing Polo Democratic Alternative have committed themselves to running their own presidential candidate, in the shape of Clara López. Many believe that Polo could end up with no parliamentary representation following the elections, and Wolff´s move to try to bring together the different strands of those on the left is seen as a way of preserving a non right, centre-right presence within the congress.

Word of the Pidimos la Palabra project was first heard in August last year, and following an initial meeting of leaders held in Medellín, all had gone relatively quiet. But in an interview with El Espectador newspaper on Sunday, Navarro Wolff hinted at an imminent announcement, suggesting the movement was ready to put forward names of key supporters and possible candidates.

Whether the ex M19 commander will be able to bring together enough of the left to make the movement viable remains to be seen.

Colombia Politics welcomes the prospect of a united centre / centre-left grouping.

The Polo appears to be on its last legs, and should it disappear in 2014 it is important voters have an option before them. Should Navarro Wolff´s “party” present a more centrist platform – more aligned to the Mockus project, rather than the Petro model –  that too would be a significant step in the right direction. Colombia needs a sensible, mature, social democratic left, not a romantic revolutionary left.

Will the softly spoken and popular former Nariño governer – himself an old firebrand – be able to drag the left kicking and screaming to the centre?