|Santos' poll numbers have plummeted, and he's facing a political pincer attack.|
Today, the economy continues growing and the peace negotiations continue advancing. Yet, Santos' support in polls has sunk into the 20s.
Some observers link Santos' low popularity to the recent protests and road blockages, but I doubt it. Colombia has had many protests, and the root causes behind the farmers' troubles long predate Santos' presidency.
Could it be that Colombians are just tired of Santos?
|From the left: Polo Democratico party |
leader Clara López.
At a recent forum in the Universidad del Rosario, Uribe attacked the FARC-government negotiations in Havana:
|From the right: Ex-Vice President Francisco Santos.|
But those formulae have worked before for Colombia, including during Uribe's own administration, when many right-wing paramilitary fighters got slaps on the wrist or no punishment at all for horrific crimes. In 1990, the M-19 guerrillas signed a peace agreement and went immediately into politics. Justice probably was not served in either case, but at least some violent actors left Colombia's conflict (yet, paramilitaries remain in parts of Colombia).
It's ironic that, on the issue of negotiations, Santos finds himself attacked from both sides: from the right by Uribe, his one-time political patron, and from the left by human rights groups, who fear that a potential peace deal will include impunity for human rights violators.
|A billboard in Medellin put up by Francisco Santos attacks |
Pres. Santos by comparing the FARC to murderous cocaine kingpin
Pablo Escobar. (Photo: El Tiempo)
In the end, it seems to me, Santos' political fortunes will ride on the talks with the FARC. A success which Colombians can believe in will overwhelm all other political issues, incuding even the economy. But that itself may mean that Santos' opponents will try to slow and even sabotage the talks for their own political interests.
The next months look to be tough for Santos. But if he can end Colombia's conflict, he can both secure his legacy - and the next election.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours