Saturday, August 7, 2010

Uribe the Second? It doesn't look like it

Handing off.

Even before taking office, new Colombian Pres. Juan Manuel Santos made clear several policy differences with outgoing Pres. Alvaro Uribe.  That's an argument in favor of changing presidents every once in a while. (And if that sounds like a dig against neighboring Venezuela, it is. The temptation to criticize Venezuela wouldn't be so strong if its government didn't act so damn boastful and self-righteous while turning into a semi-dictatorship.)

Many people expected Santos, who as minister of defense ordered the bombing of Ecuadorean territory in order to kill FARC guerrilla leader Raul Reyes, to be even more right-wing and militaristic than Pres. Alvaro Uribe. Santos was just inaugurated today, but his preliminary signals have been more conciliatory. Even as Uribe has polarized relations with Venezuela by presenting evidence that Venezuela harbors Colombian guerrillas, Santos has said that he seeks to normalize relations with Colombia's leftist neighbor. Venezuela even reciprocated by sending foreign minister Nicolas Maduro to Santos' inauguration.

Santos has also made at least one other 'leftist' gesture by promising to make the environment ministry, which had been merged together with the housing ministry, an independent ministry again. In fact, Santos' environment-ministry designee is a sort of alternative lifestyle hippie type.

Santos may yet surprise!

Written by Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours

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