“Democratic” Practices in Columbia “Worrying”

Juan Sebastián Muñoz Rivera (Colombia, AC 07-09)

On the 2nd of July 2008, when Ingrid Betancourt was liberated thanks to the Colombian troops, the President Alvaro Uribe Velez reminded to all the international media the purpose of his main governmental policy of Democratic Security. Apparently, with Betancourt freed, the success of his popular government was once again demonstrated. However, this discourse is just applied as one of his rhetorical ways to distract the attention of the audiences. (It seems hilarious that the international community works in the same direction as the manipulated TV-watchers, without any critic or reflexive tone. But this is a topic for another article). As we will see, Uribe’s government has reached this “security” following a disturbing road of social and democratic damage.

At first glance, it sounds unbelievable that one president with almost 80% of popularity has problems in social issues. Although the political analysts have spent hours thinking about it, there is no clear assent currently at this particular and “interesting” –as they called- presidential period.  Nevertheless, it is not as difficult as they tried to make it, and the answer can be seen from two different angles: most of the problems that the Colombian presidents have faced come always from the criticism of one strong opposition; Uribe not just controls more than half of the parliament but also many of these senators were elected establishing relationships with the bloody paramilitary group AUC. Secondly, his popularity comes actually from the urban and semi-urban zones where the ruin of the violence has not arrived. From almost 25 million inhabitants with the opportunity to vote, less than ten million go to the ballot box.

In order to achieve his policy of security, in the last six years led by Uribe, the national budget’s percentage expended in the domestic war, keeping the proportions, has been greater than the one invested by US in the Iraq war. The main plan is to suppress the narcotic business from which the guerrilla groups get the money to survive. However, and in spite of the additional $5.6 billion provided by US for the anti-drug war, “the purity of cocaine on U.S. streets has increased while prices have dropped “[1].  Meanwhile, the rural society has suffered the atrocities of one unnecessary war, leaving three millions of displaced people: the second place in the world after Sudan. Uribe was certainly right when he mentioned that his policy is a way of government. Nonetheless, this is not quite sure if we revise the increasing population who has been suffering the results of the intense persecutions of the illegal armed groups; the same victims that the government has not taken care of at all: the last document presented by the International Federation of Human Rights at Switzerland found that 95% of the Human Rights’ infringements remained in impunity.       

In a democratic country like Colombia, the sort of practices used to find an end to the internal conflict are worrying. Although, the most disappointing situation is the passiveness of the urban people living a kind of virtual reality: one of the most important elements of the democracies, namely, the dissent; it has gradually been turned into indifference and homogenization. The president with his constant, single anti-terrorist speech has changed the political spectrum of the society, where the left is not possible because they offer an alternative way to the known Democratic Security. With this, Uribe’s main policy has been a doubtful and dangerous plan which is still taking place as an aim in itself.


[1] Arnson, C, The agony of Alvaro Uribe, Foreign Affairs en Español, Vol. 7, Num. 4, october-december 2007


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