Monday, May 15, 2017

Santos: Worst President Ever?

Economic growth is slowing, drug production is growing, and the Colombian government is handing the nation over to communist guerrillas.

Colombia is in multiple crisis due to the misgovernance of Pres. Santos - if you believe right-wing Wall Street Journal columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady.

It does sound pretty bad - unless you look at thing in context.

Pres. Juan Manuel Santos
Yes, Colombia's economic growth has slowed, but that's the fault of weak prices for raw materials, which Colombia can't control, as well as Colombia's lack of economic diversification - a problem the nation had since long before Santos.

In fact, just months ago Colombia had one of the world's fastest-growing economies, and one which had grown year after year under both presidents Uribe and Santos.

Santos has also pursued exactly the sort of capitalist free trade policies which the Journal usually praises.

It's also true that Colombia's cocaine production has boomed in recent years, and part of the reason is undoubtedly the government's prohibition against aerial herbicide spraying. That decision, based on supposed health concerns, was certainly questionable. But the more fundamental reason for the drug crop's growth is the booming cocaine market in the U.S. - and that is not Colombia's fault. Prohibitionist policies have never worked, and those failed policies are imposed by Washington, not -Bogotá.

O'Grady is also correct that the government gave the FARC guerrillas a sweetheart deal in the peace talks, and that Santos simply ignored the national referendum which voted narrowly against the pact. But I'd like to see anybody, including Uribe, get the guerrillas to sign a better deal - particularly one which would send them to prison for their numerous crimes.

O'Grady is correct that Colombia has troubles, but they're mostly not the fault of Pres. Santos.

O'Grady doesn't want the U.S. government to continue sending foreign aid to Colombia. However, Colombia's transformation from a near failed state to a stable democracy with a growing economy is one of Washington's biggest foreign policy successes.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Ricky Rutledge said...

When talking about aerial herbicide spraying, you said, "That decision, based on supposed health concerns, was certainly questionable." - you don't have shares in Monsanto, by any chance, do you?
There's a lot to talk about in those few words:
- "based on 'supposed' health concerns" - are you saying that any health concerns aren't valid? Are you saying that the aerial spraying of herbicide/poison isn't a public health concern? - let alone detrimental to native flora and fauna?
- "That decision (to stop aerial spraying)...was certainly questionable." - are you saying aerial spraying is effective and should never have been stopped?
I hope you can clarify those points for me - or maybe I'm just barking up the wrong (poisoned) tree.

Miguel said...

Hi Ricky,

Thanks for your comment.

On the one hand, the health dangers of glyphosate are not clear. The WHO study on which the government said it based its decision was quite equivocal. It called the herbicide a 'possible' cause of cancer. And other studies, such as in Europe, have not found health dangers.

It is clear, tho, that spraying aerial herbicide kills food crops and has lots of psychological impact, as a minimum.

But, whatever glyphosate's real dangers, a lot of folks here suspect that the government's real motive for banning aerial spraying was to toss a bone to the FARC guerrillas.

And no, I don't have Monsanto stock, as far as I know. But I also don't consider the company 'the Death Star.'