Colombia’s fresh president will fight to heal his nation’s divisions

Colombia’s fresh president will fight to heal his nation’s divisions

WHEN Colombia’s news channels declared Iván Duque the winner of the presidential election on June seventeenth, forty five minutes after polls closed, many Colombians had been relieved. “I changed into once insecure of Gustavo Petro,”—Mr Duque’s left-flit rival—stated a girl anticipating the winner to provide his acceptance speech at a conference centre in Bogotá. When Mr Duque came on stage he sought to beat the campaign’s bitterness. He would “flip the net page of polarisation”, he promised.

Mr Duque’s victory, with Fifty four% of the vote, changed into once delighted. The job that awaits him, beginning on August Seventh, would perhaps be exhausting. He campaigned as a sceptic of the peace settlement with the FARC, a guerrilla community that ended its fifty two-year battle in opposition to the converse in 2016. He must now determine methods on how to revise the accord with out pushing some extinct guerrillas into taking over arms. Mr Duque will want to manage corruption, which fuelled the anger that gave Mr Petro 8m votes, more than every other left-flit candidate in Colombia’s historical past. He must traipse up sluggish financial growth. And he’ll additionally want to step out of the shadow of his mentor, Álvaro Uribe, a extinct president who inspires as powerful fright and loathing as Mr Petro.

The son of a prominent politician, Mr Duque has desired to be president since he changed into once a baby. However till six months ago few Colombians knew who he changed into once. He began his occupation as a protégé of the fresh president, Juan Manuel Santos. As Colombia’s deputy handbook to the Inter-American Pattern Financial institution (IDB), Mr Duque helped lead negotiations in 2010 to magnify its capital unhealthy. He did “the carpentry work of talking to every nation”, says Luis Alberto Moreno, who changed into once then the IDB’s president.

Mr Duque’s impress to the presidency changed into once Mr Uribe, who fervently antagonistic the peace activity launched by Mr Santos. They bonded when Mr Uribe, mandated by the UN to compare an attack by Israel on a Turkish flotilla in 2010, asked Mr Duque to encourage. In 2014 Mr Duque changed into once elected to the senate as a candidate of the Democratic Centre, the occasion Mr Uribe formed to oppose Mr Santos.

For the Democratic Centre, “Duque is a huge invention,” says Carlos Cortes, a political analyst. His mentor is a abhor figure for a model of Colombians, who partner the successful offensive in opposition to the FARC right via his presidency with atrocities by paramilitary groups. Mr Duque is unstained by that historical past. He’s younger, charming and sings vallenato, a mode of Colombian folks song. Now not like some of Mr Uribe’s allies, he’s no longer under investigation for corruption or hyperlinks to paramilitary groups.

He’ll want to point that he’s his have man with out alienating Mr Uribe, who remains an ideal senator. To assemble majorities in congress, the fresh president will want to strike bargains with events other than the Democratic Centre and its conservative allies.

His trickiest activity would perhaps be to regulate the peace accord, as demanded by the uribistas, with out wrecking the peace itself. Their greatest objection is to the “transitional-justice” provisions, which provide lenient sentences to FARC contributors within the event that they confess to their crimes. Ten contributors of the FARC, now a political occasion, would perhaps be in a plot to snatch their seats in congress sooner than they back any penal complex time. While the accord says the government must peaceful co-blueprint with farmers to change coca, the raw subject material for cocaine, with appropriate crops, Mr Duque needs to near wait on to the practice, ended by Mr Santos, of fumigating coca from the air.

In his victory speech Mr Duque promised now to no longer breeze up the deal, bits of that are phase of the constitution. His government will ogle to it that “justice and security are factual sisters”, he stated. However his notion of justice contradicts that of the FARC’s leaders. Extinct and battle-weary, they’re no longer going to near wait on to jungle hideouts. However Mr Duque’s disagreement with the community would possibly perhaps well objective add to the rising model of FARC “dissidents” who refuse to objective win the accord. They’re battling the ELN, one other guerrilla community, and the Clan del Golfo, a mafia linked to demobilised paramilitary groups, for alter of the cocaine trade.

A return to aerial fumigation would possibly perhaps well encourage farmers to sell coca to such groups and to affix their ranks. The fresh president would possibly perhaps well additionally end the peace talks Mr Santos has began with the ELN. Mr Duque has home strict prerequisites, equivalent to requiring the ELN to assemble in designated zones sooner than talks launch. The ELN is no longer going to objective win that.

Even though smaller than the FARC, the community is as resilient. In the Seventies an offensive reduced it to factual 36 opponents; it has since built itself wait on up to about 2,000. The community shelters in subsequent-door Venezuela.

Corruption is as sophisticated to fight. Treasure voters in other locations in Latin The United States, Colombians are fuming about serial scandals, along side revelations that Odebrecht, a Brazilian constructing company that bribed politicians across the converse, paid some of Mr Santos’s campaign expenses. In congress it’s far customary for representatives to set up a query to pork for his or her districts, and kickbacks from pork-linked contracts, in trade for passing regulations. Mr Duque needs to clamp down on such practices. “If this mess continues, Petro would perhaps be president in 4 years,” says Mauricio Vargas, a political handbook.

Mr Duque will inherit an financial system that is recovering from a high-tail in oil costs that began in 2014 and continued till final year. Now not like Mr Petro, he’s safe to industry and does no longer frighten the monetary markets. However the financial system suffers from quite loads of maladies, along side excessive public debt, an unaffordable pension system that funnels cash to the comparatively well off, and low productivity. Mr Duque’s vital financial proposal is to decrease law and industry taxes, however that won’t be ample. To possess the charge range deficit, he’ll want to couple that with bigger taxes charged on private earnings.

Wherever he turns, Mr Duque will face sophisticated picks. In pleading for unity, he suggested his supporters, “I succeed in no longer recognise enemies in Colombia.” However he belongs to a political clan that has been defined by its enemies. He has work to reach.

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