World in View: Colombia’s election

From the July-August 2018 issue of News & Letters

The election of right-winger Iván Duque is a real threat to the peace agreement that ended Colombia’s decades-long war between the government and the country’s largest guerrilla insurgency, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Even though the peace agreement has barely begun to be implemented, Duque says he will demand revisions, including eliminating the guarantee of legislative seats to FARC, as well as immunity for some of their commanders.

Duque’s victory came through a right-wing coalition of military, religious, political, bureaucratic, financial and commercial as well as agro-industrial elites. They were all connected in one way or another with the presidency of Álvaro Uribe, who waged a violent campaign against FARC that also killed innocent civilians. He fought vigorously against the peace agreement. The agreement is supposed to involve economic transformation, but the Right surely intends to resist or abrogate such a possibility.

The one bright spot was that, for the first time, a Left candidate, Gustavo Petro, was able to enter the run-off election and gain over 40% of the vote. Never before has the Left been represented in such a powerful way. Whether such a showing can stem a drive for renewed militarism and reactionary consolidation of power remains to be seen.

–Eugene Walker

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