Monday, August 13, 2012

Four More Years, and Forty Years Backwards?

Four more years, and forty years into the past?

Just two years into his term, there's already speculation on whether Pres. Juan Manuel Santos will run for reelection - or be permitted to by the Constitution. In any case, it looks to be a challenge, as the president's popularity has dipped below 50% in the face of increased guerrilla violence.

However, another, more immediate, reelection campaign has received much less notice, but deserves the attention of all those concerned about civil liberties.

Attorney General Alejandro Ordóñez, who's held the office since 2008, has begun campaigning for another term, to be decided by a vote by the members of the Senate. His current terms ends with the new year. Some observers are asking whether the many members of Congress who have relatives working in national or regional attorney general's offices should be barred from voting on Ordóñez's bid.

But there's a deeper question of whether or not Ordóñez is the appropriate person for the job - at least in this century.

Colombia's quite progressive 1991 Constitution changed it from a Catholic to a secular nation, but Ordóñez doesn't appear to have noticed.

Every one of Ordóñez's positions I've heard of, from abortion, to gay rights, to drug policy, conforms to the most conservative wing of the Catholic Church, Ordóñez's faith. Look at his repeated efforts to prohibit abortion in all cases, and to block women who have the right to a legal abortion; take his cruel effort to reverse a court decision permitting a New York Times journalist who happened to be gay from adopting two Colombian orphans; or his close-minded opposition to Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro's proposal to provide drugs and support to addicts.

Certainly, Ordóñez has every right to his religion, which deserves all our respect. But turning that faith into public policy, as he appears to do, is wrong and threatens to push Colombia back decades, and leave it out of step with the rest of the world.

By all appearances, Ordoñez, who is 68, is a talented man who is not corrupt and has done his job well on purely law enforcement matters. But attorney general is not the right position for such an ideologically-driven person. Instead, Ordóñez should take his energy and talents elsewhere, such as into Congress, where he can push for his religious principles just as long as his voice and his constituents will allow him.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


mauricio forero l said...

Religion is the main enemy of reason. Mr Ordonez can not hold any government job,secularism should be the norm. Lets learn from places like The Netherlands or the Scandinavian countries.

M. Forero.

Miguel said...

You're right that fundamentalist religion does not encourage independent thinking. However, religion CAN also contain valuable moral principles.