Saturday, February 10, 2018

All One Powerful Family?

Racero explained the politicians' inteconnected ness.
It smacks of conspiracy, but it is reality. And maybe it's inevitable in a nation with such a tiny political and economic class and severely unequal distributions of property and income.

This afternoon, David Racero, candidate for Congress, was standing near the Plaza Santander
Racero asks whether we should just reelect the same families?
explaining a series of charts with the help of a long pointer. And whereas other candidates denounce their opponents or boast about themselves, Racero was analysing Colombia's ruling class, person by person.

It turns out Racero would have it, that Colombia's ruling politicians have long belonged to a tiny elite, mostly linked together by blood or marriage. And Racero is right.

Colombia's current president Juan Manuel Santos, is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Santos' great ganduncle Eduard Santos Montejo, was president from 1938 to '42 and Santos' cousin Francisco Santos was vice president under Pres. Alvaro Uribe and has tried to run for president. The family was also the long-time owner of Colombia's dominant newspaper, El Tiempo.

Racero proceeded to detail similar, if less dramatic, connections between other politicians.

He's connected to him
German Vargas Lleras, who until recently was Santos' vice president and is now running for president, is the grandson of one president and more distantly related to another one.

Perhaps it's not surprising. Colombia has a small traditional political class, and they undoubtely help each other reach office.

And perhaps it's not all bad. Sure, dominance by a few means that only certain perspectives get heard, and many very capable people have no chance to reach office. However, the dominant families may also feel a double responsibility - to their nation, and also to their family's legacy - to do a good job and not be corrupt.

And current president Santos, the insider of insiders, hasn't done a bad job. The economy is moving steadily ahead, the government ended the half-century conflict with the FARC guerrillas, and Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize in the process.

And for all his distaste for the 'establishment', I suspect that Racero would prefer Pres. Santos to the Casa de Nariño's previous resident, hard-right Pres. Alvaro Uribe - who had no political connections.

And I suspect that many U.S. citizens, no matter their distaste for the Clinton and Bush families, would rather have one of them in the White House than its current resident, who had no family political connections, either.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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