|Juan Manuel Santos: Saintly?|
Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that his popularity is over 70%.
Probably the most dramatic change brought by Santos has been the change in relations with Ecuador and Venezuela, which were mutually antagonistic during the last years of Pres. Alvaro Uribe's administration. In contrast, Santos has called Venezuela's socialist Pres. Hugo Chavez 'my best friend.' Trade between the neighbors has grown. Unemployment has dropped to a still-high 11% and pollution is under control. The economy is growing at about 5%. That's not all due to Santos (almost all of the continent is booming), but at least he hasn't interfered with the growth.
Santos has also won support thru his backing of policies for victims of violence and anti-corruption efforts (which have produced tensions with Uribe, under whom Santos was defense minister). Under Santos, the army also killed FARC military commander Mono Jojoy, altho that hasn't produced any major shift in the conflict.
But Colombia's fundamental troubles remain: the economy still depends dangerously on raw material exports, the drug trade, with all of its corrosive impacts, continues. And the drug-fueled conflict with the leftist guerrillas continues, and violence has even surged during recent weeks. Nor has Santos taken the lead in advocating a shift in drug policy, which could do much to reduce Colombia's problems.
|A graffiti, which originally said 'Neither God nor Saints' |
on a church wall in La Candelaria.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours