Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Mockus Phenomenon

So, I'm blogging again, for anybody who cares...

It's the presidential campaign which moved me back to the keyboard. Suddenly, what was supposed to be a routine, predictable campaign, in which popular Pres. Alvaro Uribe, after failing in his effort to run again himself, handed power over to his man, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, has gone bonkers. An eccentric ex-mayor of Bogotá, a man of Lithuanian parentage who once interrupted a class he was teaching to drop his pants, who recently announced that he has Parkinson's and that he's an atheist, is in a dead heat with Santos, in some polls.

Antanas Mockus' campaign is like a breath of fresh air in a nation which has spent decades obsessed with the grimness of an armed conflict, narcotrafficking and bombings. For once, will Colombians choose their president based on issues like poverty and education, rather than violence? Or, should they?

Mockus is widely agreed to be honest, intelligent and innovative. His public acknowledgement of his Parkinson's was also courageous in a nation which usually seeks strong leaders.

But Mockus is the Green Party candidate. Green is great. I'm an environmentalist. But, sadly, environmentalism may not be Colombia's first priority as a weakened by still vicious guerrilla still claws at its society. And, for that matter, what about Mockus' platform is really green? He didn't even show up for the one debate held on environmental issues and then issued a vacous statement.

I dunno. Mockus is a good guy...but his agenda's still a big mystery. And, while Colombia's come a long way in terms of security and quality of life, perhaps it still needs to make concentrating on the guerrillas and other outlaw groups its top priority. And, clearly, Santos, the man who bombed Raul Reyes' camp in Ecuador, would do that.

There's also a green factor which is missing here. The drug erradication campaign may be futile or worthwhile, but it clearly is disastrous for the environment. Because drugs are illegal, jungle is cleared to plant drug crops, herbicides are sprayed on that jungle and people's homes, and untold quantities of used chemicals are poured into streams. If drugs were legalized, they'd be cultivated and produced like wine grapes and tobacco - with some modicum of environmental controls.
For greens, at least, drug legalization/depenalization is a no-brainer. But I haven't heard of Mockus, or any other candidate, taking a stand on this issue which is so fundamental to Colombia. I'll keep waiting.
This blog blogged by Mike Ceaser, owner of Bogotá Bike Tours and Rentals

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