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Colombian Presidential Election Update

May 20, 2010

Only a month ago it seemed like a given that the upcoming Colombian presidential election would go to Juan Manuel Santos, the right-wing former defense minister under current right-wing president Alvaro Uribe.  But the past month has seen Santos suffer a number of setbacks, including a wire-taping scandal that has damaged his hopes of an uncontested election.  New polls actually show Santos losing in the second and deciding round of elections to the left leaning Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus.  This would be a monumental upset for the right in Colombia, which had seemed to secure its grasp on power under the eight year rule of Uribe.  Uribe’s time in office has been characterized by solidifying ever closer military ties with the US, the increasing militarization of Colombian society, the growing division between the reactionary regimes in Latin America (Colombia, Peru, Mexico) the rest of the region which is moving towards integration.  A serious challenge to Santos and the right in Colombia has the potential to change the balance of forces in the region, although it is unclear how much a Green victory would actually change the substantial military and free trade agreements Colombia has signed with the US under Uribe.  A continuation of the current ties with the US is the most likely outcome.  A change in regional relations are a possibility though.  One would assume that the high tension between Colombia and its neighbors, especially Venezuela and Ecuador (which Colombia launched an offensive military raid into in 2008 under the direction of then defense minister Santos), would subside.  This would certainly be a welcomed outcome for all concerned parties.  Whether or not the prospect of ending the four decade plus civil war in Colombia remains to be seen.

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