Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Colombia: President Uribe Reelected in Landslide

In a landslide decision (66% compared to runner-up Carlos Gaviria's 22%), Colombians went to the polls on Sunday and reelected President Álvaro Uribe. Here is a selection of what Colombian bloggers had to say about his victory.

Gabriel Goldo is ecstatic [ES].

La Democracia habló, esperemos la pronta paz en nuestra querida Colombia y que los próximos 4 años sean de progreso para el pais.
Porque Colombia es Pasión, un video que muestra lo bello que es nuestro pais.

Democracy has spoken. Let us hope for the forthcoming peace in our dear Colombia and that the next four years will be of progress for the country. “Why Colombia is Passion” is a video (in English) that shows the beauty that is our country.

To celebrate, he posts a government PR video, narrated by a young child in English which extolls Colombia's many virtues and celebrities.

But Sociologia para novatos says that even greater than Uribe's landslide vote margin was the record-breaking abstention rate [ES], which could be curbed with obligatory voting:

En estricto sentido, las elecciones no las ganó Uribe. Las ganó la abstención. El 55% de los que podían votar no lo hicieron. Se fueron de paseo o se quedaron viendo a Juan Pablo Montoya dar vueltas por televisión. Si esto fuera Matriz y el programita de computador estuviera bien diseñado, vuelve y juega: no hay democracia si no hay quorum. Pero estamos en Colombia: acá hay una viejísima tradición de abstención. ¿Para qué votar, se oye aun, si siempre son los mismos? Durante todo el Frente Nacional fueron, es cierto, más o menos los mismos. Luego, durante mucho tiempo, los movimientos de protesta popular llamaron a la abstención. Les hicieron un enorme favor a los “mismos de siempre”: la democracia, aquí y en Cafarnaún, es el régimen de los que votan. Así sean minoría. Hoy hay 13 millones de compatriotas de todas las edades que no usan la cédula para la función ciudadana más importante. Y nadie hace nada frente a la abstención: a los políticos de brocha gorda les conviene, porque controlan mejor a quien vota. Para meditar: porqué en la mayoría de los países de América latina, el voto es obligatorio. Qué grado conciencia y de educación política se logra con este tipo de medidas a primera vista antipáticas.

In the strictest sense, Uribe didn't win the elections; abstention did. 55% of those who could vote, didn't. They went out for a walk or they stayed home watching Juan Pablo Montoya race around on TV. If this were the Matrix and the little computer program were well-designed, come back and play again: there is no democracy if there is no quorum. But we are in Colombia where there is a long tradition of abstention. “Why vote,” you still here, “if it's always the same candidates?” During it all, the National Front was, it's true, more or less the same. Later, for a long time, the popular protest movements called for abstention. That did an enourmous favor for the “same-as-always politicians.” Democracy, here, is the regime of those who vote. Even if it's the minority. Today there are 13 million compatriots who don't use their identification cards for their most important function. And no one is doing anything to confront the abstention. It suits the politicians because they can better control who votes. Something to meditate: why in the majority of Latin American countries is voting obligatory? Imagine to what extent political education and consciousness could be achieved with such measures, which – at first glimpse – appear unpleasant.


Bluelephant, a supporter of former Bogota mayor and Harvard professor Antanas Mockus (blog [ES]):

Una ventaja del proyecto político de Mockus sobre los de sus contendores es que estar en la presidencia es preferible pero no necesario. Cerca de ciento cincuenta mil personas repartidas a lo largo y ancho del país con interés en promover valores de convivencia, tolerancia y respeto a la vida reportaron su existencia ayer. Ciento cincuenta mil que queremos cogobernar, que no queremos que el Estado sea manejado a espaldas de la gente. Lo mejor es que esa es sólo una porción de los que apostamos por un cambio como ese. Una pequeñísima porción. Hay muchos que también creen en eso y que votaron los otros, o que incluso no votaron. Somos muchos más que las FARC, los paras y el ELN juntos. No tenemos que escondernos. No somos criminales. No usamos fusiles. No asesinamos, ni secuestramos, ni desaparecemos personas. Nosotros hablamos, escuchamos, discutimos, acordamos. Ojalá que el impulso no se pierda y el movimiento Visionario siga activo. Creo que hay muchas cosas que podemos hacer desde abajo.

An advantage that Mockus’ political project has over his contenders is that being president is preferable but not necessary. Close to 150,000 people across the nation with interest in promoting values of coexistence, tolerance, and respect for life showed their voice yesterday. 150,000 of us who want to “co-govern,” who don't just want a state that is driven behind our backs. The best news is that this is just a portion of those who bet for a change like this ours. A very small portion. There are others who also believe in this and who voted for other [liberal parties] and still others who didn't vote. We are many more than the FARC, the paramilitaries, and the National Liberation Army [ELN] all together. We don't have to hide. We aren't criminals. We don't use bullets. We don't assassin, nor kidnap, nor “disappear” people. We speak, we listen, we argue, we agree. Hopefully this impulse won't be lost and the Visionary movement stays active. I think that there are many things that we can do from below.

He then goes on to make four brief “notes on the side,” which mostly focus on the unexpected high percentage of votes by the leftist PDI who he says “have a good chance in 2010.”

Leftist blog Bogota Subterranea is not nearly so optimistic. Posting a photo Uribe's wife clearly exhausted with relief, he writes sarcastically:

Esta foto, tomada sin permiso de la página de El Tiempo, es elocuente. El sufrido rostro de Doña Lina expresa el dolor de una minoría que lamentamos los tiempos oscuros que se avecinan con la reelección de Uribe. Nadie mas que ella habrá sufrido el autoritarismo, la intolerancia y la pragmática criminal que ahora se apodera de Colombia.

This photo, used without permission of El Tiempo, is eloquent. The suffering expression of [First Lady] Doña Lina conveys the pain of the minority of us who lament the dark times that approach with the reelection of Uribe. No one else other than her has suffered the the authoritarianism, the intolerance, and the criminal pragmatism that has now seized Colombia.

As per usual, the community of English-speaking bloggers with an interest in Latin American affairs also commented on Uribe's landslide victory. A.M. Mora y Leon has the most exhaustive coverage of the elections and what other anglophone bloggers have said about it. Adam Isacson's analysis is typically indispensable. Tom, a doctoral student based in Bogota has two clear and in-depth posts with some photos of the polling stations and electoral ballot. Bethany accompanied some of her friends to the polls, where she says “the battle cry, “Adelante, Presidente!” (Onward, President!) was everywhere. It was like a holiday–the metro was free and people were even handing out free sandwiches and drinks to voters!” Boz gives his five talking points on Uribe's second term, including his hope that the popular leader won't change the constitution again to remain in power for a third term.

Dan Feder focuses on the gains made by Colombia's left as he refers to Carlos Gaviria's 22% of the vote as “an historic turn of events for the Colombian left.” Matthew Shugart agrees that “the big news is that Carlos Gaviria, of the newly formed alliance of the Colombian left, the Polo Democrático Alternativo, easily set an all-time high for the left in a presidential election in Colombia.” In a comment on Publius Pundit he even predicts that Colombia's “next president will be a candidate endorsed by the Liberals in coalition with either one of the several competing pro-Uribe parties or with the left.” Randy Paul is concerned that Uribe's reelection will lead to benefits for the leaders of the paramilitary group, Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), which he says “should face the consequences of their vicious crimes and should be forced to give up the rewards of their criminal activity.”

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site