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July 20, 2019, 04:51:19 am
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« on: July 10, 2018, 07:25:21 pm »
« edited: April 30, 2019, 11:06:32 am by Hash »

Now that the election is over and Iván "Porky" Duque will soon become president, I've decided to create a general discussion thread to contain my intermittent musings, crappy analysis, cynical commentaries and bad memes on Colombian politics (and, hopefully, hear from other people).

The thread title references Iván Duque's nickname, Porky, because he looks like porky pig, and the Three Little Eggs (los tres huevitos) are the core principles of uribismo (democratic security, investor confidence, social cohesion).

News sources
I get all my news from Spanish-language media, so I can only recommend that.

Semana is one of the best news magazines in Latin America, with very good coverage of current events and decent analysis and investigative reporting. Its free and easily searchable archives provide a door to Colombia's history over the past 35 years. Its general political perspective is centrist and liberal (mildly progressive). The contents of its weekly print magazines are now paywalled, which sucks, but isn't yet too annoying.

El Espectador is a major national newspaper, acclaimed several times over for the quality of its journalism and reporting. Today, its 'Colombia2020' section has excellent articles on the peace process and post-conflict, covering stories and local perspectives going beyond daily headlines. It is a traditionally liberal and progressive newspaper, although it is owned by a powerful business group.

El Tiempo is Colombia's newspaper of record. The newspaper's history over the past 100 years is an important part of the country's political history. In recent years, the quality of its journalism and analysis has declined, often failing to bring an interesting perspective or insightful analysis to the table. Historically aligned with liberalism, it is the newspaper of the Bogotá socioeconomic elites and is firmly pro-'establishment'.

Caracol Radio is one of the major radio stations in Colombia and its website is good for breaking news and short news stories. It is owned by the Spanish group Prisa, which owns El País in Spain.

La Silla Vacía is an online portal focused on 'political power' in Colombia, providing the best analysis and explanations of politics and power relations in the country - focusing not only on politics and power at the national level, but providing excellent coverage of politics and power at the local and regional in all major regions of a geographically divided and diverse country (coverage lacking in traditional media). Its analysis is almost always fair, rigorous, insightful and balanced.

Books and Resources

If, for whatever reason, you want to read up on the historical context, here are a few books in English.

David Bushnell's The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself is one of the seminal works on Colombian history, first published in 1993 and re-edited several times since. It offers a fairly thorough portrait of the country's history since pre-colonial times, and challenges some theories or assumptions.

Frank Safford and Marco Palacios' Colombia: Fragmented Land, Divided Society is another general history of Colombia since pre-Columbian times, focusing on the role of geography on Colombia's economy, society, politics and regional cultural identities.

Marco Palacios' Between Legitimacy and Violence is a political and economic history of Colombia beginning in the late nineteenth century covering up until the end of the twentieth century -- if you're interested by the modern history, this is the best bet. It is translated from the original Spanish, and the original Spanish is available for free online on the Bank of the Republic's online library.

There is a chapter on Colombia ("Discord, Civility and Violence") in more recent editions of Thomas Skidmore and Peter Smith's Modern Latin America. It says what absolutely needs to be said without reading an entire book.
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2018, 07:15:57 pm »

Today, on Colombia's independence day (which commemorates the formation of Bogotá's junta, the excuse for which was the ridiculous incident of the 'Florero de Llorente' - a Spanish merchant who refused to loan a flower vase to a criollo), the 2018-2022 Congress took office.

The composition of the Congress, which was only officially announced two days ago at the last minute amidst evidence of widespread fraud in certain regions on election day in March, will be as follows:

SENATE
Centro Democrático 19 (right/far-right/personality cult)
Cambio Radical 16 (right/corruption)
Conservatives 14 (right/money plz)
Liberals 14 (centre/centre-right)
Partido de la U 14 (corruption/for sale)
Greens 9 (centre-left)
Polo Democrático 5 (left)
FARC 5 (left)
Decents 3 + 1 (G. Petro, ex officio) (alternative left)
MIRA 3 (Evangelical Christian right)
Colombia Justa Libres 3 (Evangelical Christian right)
MAIS 1 (indigenous left)
ASI 1 (indigenous centre-left)

Majority 55
Government coalition (CD, CR, Cons, Lib, La U, MIRA, CJL) 83
Opposition (Grn., Polo, Dec., FARC, MAIS, ASI) 25



HOUSE
Liberals 35 (centre/centre-right)
Centro Democrático 32 (right/far-right/personality cult)
Cambio Radical 30 (right/corruption)
Partido de la U 25 (corruption/for sale)
Conservatives 21 (right/money plz)
Greens 9 (centre-left)
FARC 5 (left)
Decents 2 + 1 (A.M. Robledo, ex officio) (alternative left)
Polo Democrático 2 (left)
MAIS 2 (indigenous left)
Opción Ciudadana 2 (trash)
Afro-Colombian seats 2 (probably scams)
Alternativa Santandereana 1 (centre-left/green)
MIRA 1 (Evangelical Christian right)
Colombia Justa Libres 1 (Evangelical Christian right)

Majority 86
Government coalition (CD, CR, Cons, Lib, La U, MIRA, CJL) 145
Opposition (Grn., Polo, Dec., FARC, MAIS, AS) 22

The outlines of the usual deals dividing up the presidencies of both houses for the four years between the governing coalition parties are still a bit vague, but for the first year of the term (2018-19), the presidency of the Senate/Congress will be for the uribista CD and the presidency of the House for the Liberals.

There was (already) a small dispute within the CD over the party's nominee for the presidency of the Senate, seemingly between Ernesto Macías and Paola Holguín, but the latter dropped out today and it now a near-certainty that senator Ernesto Macías of Huila will be president of the Senate. The presidency of the House will likely go to Alejandro Carlos Chacón (Liberal). Neither of them appear to be very intelligent, but most Colombian congressmen are dumb. I might have missed an episode, because I've always thought that Ernesto Macías was a fairly unremarkable uribista drone.

At least for the first year, President Porky-Duque will enjoy the usual crushing majority in both houses, although La U and Cambio Radical, which are 'second class allies' (because they jumped ship late, for lack of better option and without being invited and pampered) are already showing signs of discontent with their poor treatment by the incoming government, whose preferred allies, aside from the loyal uribista caucus, are the Liberals and Conservatives (the resurrection of the National Front!). In any case, the old adage is that the first year belongs to the president, the second year is shared, the third year belongs to the congressmen and the fourth year belongs to no-one (i.e. the president's hold on Congress becomes increasingly tenuous over time). In theory, this means that Porky will have little trouble passing the bulk of his legislative agenda in the first two years, although nothing guarantees that Congress won't twist and turn it and introduce a few 'micos' (lit. 'monkeys', or riders) as they love to do.

The centre-left opposition, strengthened by the new opposition statute, will be stronger than in previous congresses, particularly in the Senate, and be led by several high-profile and vocal figures, starting with Gustavo Petro. Historically, the FARC will hold their 5 ex officio seats in both houses, although Jesús Santrich (representative-elect, but in jail awaiting extradition to the US) and Iván Márquez (senator-elect, refusing to take his seat) won't be taking their seats and it is unclear whether they will replaced by the next names of the list or if their seats will be left vacant.

From my left-leaning perspective, I have little doubt that, much like the last one, this Congress will be an embarrassment and a freak show, but on the upside there will be some great people in it: Antanas Mockus (Green), Angélica Lozano (Green), Jorge Enrique Robledo (Polo), Alexander López (Polo), Iván Cepeda (Polo), Aída Avella (Decents), Juanita Goebertus (Green), María José Pizarro (Decents), Catalina Ortiz (Green) and Ángela Robledo (Decents) -- and, while I don't care for them ideologically and disagree with them, some capable legislators on the other side like David Barguil (Conservative), Luis Fernando Velasco (Liberal), Ana Paola Agudelo (MIRA) and *gasp* maybe even Paloma Valencia (CD). And even though they're pretty slimy and opportunistic political operators, I have grudging respect for Roy Barreras and Armando Benedetti (La U).

On the other hand, there will also be a whole load of crooks, criminals, nutcases and horrible people (as always): Álvaro Uribe (#lockhimup), María Fernanda Cabal (kill me now), José Obdulio Gaviria (how's your cousin been doing?), Richard Aguilar, Didier Lobo, Daira Galvis, Jhon Milton Rodríguez, Jhon Moises Besaile etc. etc.

In any case, this Congress has already gotten off to a splendid start, since my hero Antanas Mockus mooned everybody:



The usual suspects are outraged, but he treated the nest of rats which is Congress with the respect and decorum it really deserves - that is, very little. Reminder that this is a Congress where at least 35% of those elected in 2002/2006 were allied with war criminals, where 5 senators elected in 2014 have since been arrested and where one senator-elect (Aída Merlano, of beautiful hair braid and vote buying fame) is already in jail -- and a country where a lot of right-wingers want to murder all left-wingers.

Which raises an important question: how many of the congressmen taking office today will be in jail by 2022? I wouldn't be surprised if the number is in the double digits.

Sometime soon I'll discuss Porky's new cabinet - which will be a mix of uribismo and macronismo, all under the tent of big business interests - and other, more serious, things (like the ongoing mass killings of social leaders which Porky doesn't give a sh**t about).
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2018, 11:04:52 am »

A week or so ago, Gallup Colombia released its regular public opinion poll (June 22-July 3), which asks a ton of questions on political issues and politicians in 5 big cities (Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Bucaramanaga, Barranquilla). The results indicate an interesting uptick in optimism after the election.

Direction of country: 50 (-18) / 31 (+13)

Santos approval: 59 (-13) / 35 (+12)

Pres.-elect Porky approval: 56 (+4) / 31 (-6)

VP-elect Ramírez approval: 54 (-1) / 26 (+11)

Maduro approval: 96 / 1

Trump approval: 74 (+8) / 15 (-10)

Politicians approval
A. Mockus: 68 / 21
S. Fajardo: 67 (+6) / 13 (-5)
H. de la Calle: 55 (+4) / 29 (+1)
G. Petro: 49 (-4) / 43 (+2)
A. Uribe: 52 (+8) / 43 (-8)
G. Vargas Lleras: 53 (+6) / 36 (-5)

Favourability of institutions/things
Military: 75 (-4) / 22 (-3)
Church: 65 (-2) / 31 (+1)
Businessmen: 60 (+2) / 34 (-2)
USA: 53 (-3) / 38 (+1)
Police: 54 (nc) / 44 (nc)
Media: 52 (-4) / 47 (+4)
JEP: 50 (+14) / 43 (-12)
Social media: 50 / 45
Unions: 47 (+6) / 43 (-4)

AG: 51 / 44
Const. Court: 53 (-3) / 38 (+3)
Supreme Court: 60 (-4) / 32 (+5)
Congress: 72 (-6) / 20 (+3)
Political parties: 73 (-9) / 20 (+5)
FARC: 78 (-11) / 18 (+11)
Judiciary: 79 (-3) / 17 (+1)
Venezuela: 93 (-3) / 5 (+2)
ELN: 92 (-4) / 4 (+2)

Peace process
Possible to militarily defeat guerrillas: 64 (-3) / 33 (+2)
Possible for guerrilla to seize power by force: 71(+5) / 27 (-5)

Best option: Negotiate 77 (+17) / Don't negotiate 20 (-16)

Direction of implementation of peace agreement: 53 (-17) / 44 (+18)

Approval of talks with ELN: 66 (+10) / 31 (-10)

Political issues
Lose freedoms to improve security: 46 (-5) / 46 (+3)
Good relations w/ Venezuela: 57 (-3) / 39 (+1)
Sacrifice justice for peace: 53 (-11) / 43 (+10)
Free trade agreements: 55 (-11) / 40 (+8)
Legalize drugs: 75 / 24
Same-sex marriage: 56 (+4) / 41 (-5)
Same-sex adoption: 72 (+2) / 26 (-1)
Colombia can become like Venezuela: 70 (+13) / 27 (-15)

(Selected) Policy issues improving/worsening:
Corruption: 85 (-3) / 7 (+1)
Insecurity: 79 (-7) / 15 (+6)
Unemployment: 78 (nc) / 14 (+3)
Cost of living: 78 (-7) / 15 (+6)
Healthcare: 76 (nc) / 17 (nc)
Environment: 75 (-6) / 20 (+6)
Economy: 69 (-8) / 21 (+5)
Old age assistance: 66 (nc) / 21 (nc)
Drug trafficking: 64 (+4) / 19 (-1)
Poverty: 64 (-4) / 23 (nc)
Childhood assistance: 54 (+9) / 39 (-6)
Agriculture: 51 (-10) / 28 (+3)
Education: 46 (-9) / 40 (+4)
Guerrilla: 43 (-20) / 43 (+18)
Reintegration: 39 (-15) / 37 (+6)

Public services: 46 (-1) / 38 (+1)
Transportation/roads: 51 (+6) / 40 (-2)
Social housing: 58 (nc) / 28 (-1)
Foreign relations: 58 (+11) / 26 (-9)

Mayoral approval
Peñalosa (Bogotá): 68 (-9) / 29 (+9)
Fico (Medellín): 89 (+3) / 10 (-1)
Armitage (Cali): 51 (-3) / 46 (+5)
Char (Barranquilla): 87 (+1) / 12 (-1)
Hernández (Bucaramanga): 80 (+17) / 17 (-13)

Full data: https://imgcdn.larepublica.co/cms/2018/07/04191010/Encuesta-Gallup-Poll-Junio-2018.pdf?w=auto
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2018, 08:15:24 pm »

BREAKING: Álvaro Uribe resigns from the Senate to defend himself as the Supreme Court orders the opening of a formal investigation against him (and CD representatives Álvaro Prada) for witness tampering.

Quote
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia’s influential former President Alvaro Uribe says he will resign from his Senate seat after being called to testify on allegations of witness tampering.

Uribe tweeted Tuesday that he feels “morally impeded” from continuing in his role as a senator while also mounting his defense.

For several years he has been involved in a legal dispute with another senator, Ivan Cepeda.

Uribe originally accused Cepeda of pressuring prison inmates to falsely state that he was linked to a paramilitary group.

The court found no evidence to support Uribe’s claim but decided there were grounds to investigate him for manipulating witnesses.
https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/powerful-ex-colombia-president-vows-to-resign-from-senate/

The background to the case is an old feud between Uribe and his arch-nemesis, Polo senator Iván Cepeda. Cepeda (and former Polo representative Alirio Uribe) wrote a hard-hitting book, A las puertas de El Ubérrimo, in which he notably exposed Uribe and his family's ties to the formation of paramilitary groups in rural Antioquia in the 1980s and 1990s, charges which Cepeda further substantiated with the witness testimonies of demobilized paramilitaries who corroborated the accusation that Uribe, his brother Santiago (who is on trial) and other family friends (with very murky ties to Antioquia's criminal underworld) participation in the creation of the paramilitary Bloque Metro. According to the claims, the Bloque Metro - one of the main paramilitary units in Antioquia - was founded on the Guacharacas hacienda, property of the Uribe family, in 1995 after the ELN attacked the property. In 2013, Uribe and his allies accused Cepeda of building a 'cartel of fake witnesses' (which is a big cottage industry in Colombia) to compromise him and his reputation, so he pressed charges.

Fast forward to February 2018, and the Supreme Court finds that there are no grounds to accuse Cepeda, dropping all charges against him, but instead finding that there were grounds to open a preliminary investigation against Uribe for the same accusations - witness tampering. Basically, it wasn't Cepeda who 'travelled to the prisons' to get people to provide false testimonies against Uribe, but rather Uribe's goons who pressured the witnesses to recant and change their testimonies. One of the most damning pieces of evidence implicating Uribe was an intercepted phone call between Uribe and Juan Guillermo Villegas, a landowner/businessman who ran for Congress in 2002 and whose brother was a paramilitary commander in the region: in the phone call, Uribe is aware that "these sons of bitches" are listening in. In another call, Juan Guillermo Villegas is extremely eager to talk to the father of one of the key witnesses against Uribe in the case after his day in court. One witness in the Uribe-Cepeda case, Carlos Areiza, was assassinated in Bello in April. Daniel Coronell, a journalist whose weekly columns in Semana create the news, had a column in which he revealed how Areiza feared for his life or the sketchy story of how a crazy fascist lawyer known as 'El Patriota' visited him in jail, allegedly on behalf of José Obdulio Gaviria (CD senator, Pablo Escobar's cousin and the ideologue of uribismo), and had him sign blank papers to retract his accusations against Luis Alfredo Ramos (former governor/senator, on trial for parapolítica, also claimed to be a victim of Cepeda's cartel of fake witnesses). Uribe, at the time, controversially tweeted that Areiza was a bandit (true) and that he was a 'good dead' (un buen muerto).

El Espectador had a good overview of the dramatis personae in the case back in February: https://www.elespectador.com/noticias/judicial/los-personajes-claves-del-proceso-contra-el-senador-alvaro-uribe-velez-articulo-740066. It's been a while since I read Cepeda's book, so I may be a bit rusty on the details of the background case.

The Supreme Court's communiqué today says that the facts being investigated took place after February 2018): "in reaction to that judicial ruling and apparently with his consent, people close to former President Uribe would have undertaken new acts of manipulation of witnesses". The evidence against Uribe must be quite serious - and it is presumably in addition to the evidence against Uribe for witness tampering before February 2018, which was already quite damning evidence (as revealed by the media).

The AP report doesn't really get why Uribe resigned his seat: it's not because he's "morally impeded" (the man has no morals), but rather because he will try to delay and hold up the case for as long as possible, following Pasqua's theorem (create a scandal within the scandal). Technically, by resigning from the Senate, Uribe loses his fuero and the investigation passes to the Fiscalía (Attorney General) which opens more options to delay the case. Uribe will be arguing that the Supreme Court opened a formal investigation without first hearing his side. Many congressmen investigated for parapolítica between 2006 and 2010, including Uribe's cousin Mario Uribe Escobar (why, yes, it's a lovely family) followed the same strategy: resigning to transfer the case to the Fiscalía, which gave them more 'guarantees'. El Tiempo is reporting that, from its sources on the Court, the accusations against Uribe are outside its powers, so the case will pass to the Fiscalía. But there may be differing legal opinions: during parapolítica, many of those who resigned saw their cases sent back to the Supreme Court, which therefore has established jurisprudence on the matter. Caracol Radio journalist Darcy Quinn tweeted that the Court will now discuss if it has the power to investigate Uribe, or if it passes to the Fiscalía. The prevailing opinion among experts and public opinion appears to be for the latter. Gustavo Petro has tweeted that, by resigning, Uribe wants to 'evade investigation'.

For now, Uribe is lashing out at magistrates and journalists, saying that a magistrate who leaked information about the investigation to journalists should resign and complaining that the Court hasn't listened to him. He said that he was continuing to dismantle false testimonies... well, maybe you shouldn't have done that, champ.

I am a bit worried about what this could mean: the uribistas have, predictably, closed ranks around the Eternal President, and it is only a matter of time before they go insane and start dumping vitriol, lies and slanderous accusations on the judiciary for 'political persecution'. I am expecting the crazy women - Paloma Valencia, María Fernanda Cabal and Paola Holguín - to lead the charge here. If, and it is still a big if, an arrest warrant is issued against Uribe, then everyone will be going absolutely insane and there could well be riots (I can already imagine the uribistas: "the greatest president ever, who saved the patria from the terrorists, is going to jail, while the terrorist FARC are in Congress!"). Beyond the hysterics (and brace for impact, it's coming), this will unexpectedly change the political dynamics of uribismo, since the leader of the cult will no longer be leading the troops in the Senate, and may be quite busy saving his own ass. It's too early to say what impact this will have.

These summer fireworks will be an early test for President-elect Porky, who hasn't even taken office yet. Among other things, it may show, once and for all:
(a) whether Duque is Uribe's puppet or not.
(b) to what extent is Duque willing to defend his boss: will he join in with the uribista hysterics and de-legitimize the judiciary for its 'political persecution' or will he seek, at least in public, to appear above the fray and issue the generic political non-statements?
(c) whether Duque is willing to distance himself from Uribe when the latter is up sh*it's creek.

It's obvious that Porky would have wanted for these fireworks not to take place right now, since he's going to be forced to stop his Macron-like posturing and choreographed performance, and actually do/say something.

As of me posting this, nobody has heard from Porky.
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2018, 08:36:53 pm »

I just read it in the news. There must be serious evidence, because I don't believe Uribe has a remarkable sense of morality. Thank you for providing background.
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« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2018, 01:05:09 pm »

Semana is reporting this morning on the evidence against Uribe. Some of it was already public, revealed in columns by Daniel Coronell (Semana columnist and director of Univision's news division). Most of these columns are now paywalled, although there is a summary of five of them here and, thankfully, the first one he wrote is not paywalled (see here).

Coronell's columns revealed audios showing how, after the Court's first decision in February, Uribe's goons - incl. rep. Álvaro Hernán Prada and Uribe's sketchy lawyer, one Diego Cadena, specialized in getting drug dealers and paramilitaries to whitewash politicians - used their ex-paramilitary contacts to get through to one of the star witnesses in the Uribe-Cepeda saga, Juan Guillermo Monsalve (son of the butler of the Hacienda Guacharacas). They were in a rush to get him to sign papers or film a video retracting his statements against Uribe, and in turn implicating Cepeda instead, so that Uribe's defence could appeal the Court's decision within the statutory timeframe (5 days?). In the recordings, an ex-paramilitary named 'Caliche' tells Monsalve that Uribe was put on speaker in a phone call he had with Prada. Besides Prada/'Caliche', Uribe's goons also tried to get through to Monsalve through another inmate (serving time for kidnapping Andrés Pastrana's father-in-law), and via Diego Cadena. Monsalve said that Cadena, acting on Uribe's behalf, offered him money, help with his cases and protection for him and his family in exchange for doing what he was told.

But, in addition to this, Semana also reports that the Court learned that Uribe, directly, contacted people abroad to have ex-paramilitary 'El Tuso Sierra' film a video in Uribe's favour to discredit another witness. The Court's investigation announced yesterday also involves a former prosecutor, Hilda Jeanette Niño (currently in jail). Cadena claimed that she had given information about 'plot' by former AG Eduardo Montealegre against Santiago Uribe (Uribe's brother on trial for paramilitarism), hence why the Court is now accusing her of working to discredit the case against Santiago.

https://www.semana.com/nacion/articulo/las-pruebas-de-la-corte-para-llamar-a-indagatoria-al-expresidente-uribe/576454

There is more debate about whether or not Uribe's cases go to the Fiscalía or not. This morning, Caracol Radio's analysts seemed pretty sure that the Court was to declare that it didn't have competence over the case with his resignation, although Coronell was unconvinced. Going to the Fiscalía would be a fine way to delay this - and, probably, the 20+ other cases against him, forever, particularly now that we know that the Fiscalía 'mysteriously' lost some compromising recordings implicating Uribe. I should still point out that if AG Néstor Humberto Martínez isn't a puppet, he is a showman and he is a celebrity lawyer for the rich and famous (big business and politicians), formerly close to Vargas Lleras but as of late getting friendly with Duque.

Meanwhile, Duque managed to do it again: walk the tightrope between 'seeming presidential' (i.e. respecting institutions) and uribista loyalty (i.e. cultist hysteria). Duque's statement managed to say both 'we are respectful of the Constitution and its institutions'/'Uribe and all Colombians must count on the right to defend themselves, enjoy the presumption of innocence within the framework of due process' and 'we know Uribe's honour, rectitude, patriotism and unquestionable service to the country and to the rule of law'/'we are sure that his honour and innocence will prevail'. So, we don't know the answer to my questions (a) and (c) from yesterday, but to question (b) Duque has decided to "at least in public, to appear above the fray and issue the generic political non-statement" -- and still appear to be loyal. In stark contrast, the CD party statement read by Paloma Valencia (called it!) was full-on insanity, saying that whole thing is a montage of his political enemies to destabilize the new government, reaffirming their support for the Eternal President against 'infamy'. Duque therefore has, so far, avoided calling Uribe a 'victim' or partaking in uribismo's usual attacks on the judiciary/the media, while also not saying anything which would lead the furibistas to call him a traitor. Of course, it's too early to betray Uribe, if there is to be a betrayal (I still doubt it).
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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2018, 01:15:53 pm »

While I was writing this, Álvaro Uribe has gone into full meltdown mode on Twitter, and holy mother of God:

1. He says that the Court doesn't want to investigate his claims, and that they're simply presuming him to be a witness manipulator and they called him to testify with an 'implicit arrest warrant': already going for the top victim card, 'the evil judges want to lock me up!'. Still, par for the course uribismo.

2.  Uribe claims that the Court still is competent to investigate him, claiming that he has never sought to evade the Court. This is an unexpected 360 from all claims that it is in Uribe's interest that the case be investigated by the Fiscalía instead, which is what Uribe is now explicitly trying to deny. In any case, Uribe's official resignation hasn't arrived yet, and rep. Prada will not be resigning either. Is Uribe reconsidering his resignation? Why is Uribe now claiming that the Court is competent to investigate him? Why is Uribe straying from the old parapolítico playbook?

3. And, for full insanity:"



"There are repeated complaints that the recordings [of Uribe/goons] were done by the British agency MI6 friends of Juan Manuel Santos. Foreign authorities in a plot against me"

erwjhjnghjhmkkltkjb the man is crazier than Trump
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2018, 08:58:41 pm »

https://www.npr.org/2018/07/27/633039986/colombian-drug-traffickers-put-a-70-000-bounty-on-a-police-dog

Quote
Sombra is a 6-year-old German shepherd who has been on Colombia's counter-narcotics police force since she was a puppy. And she is so good at her job that drug dealers want her dead.

Sombra, Spanish for "shadow," was trained to sniff out drugs and has uncovered so many stashes of cocaine that one of the country's most powerful criminal organizations has put a price on her head.

The Urabeños offered a bounty of up to 200 million Colombian pesos – nearly $70,000 — for the canine's life, Colombia's national police said last week.

According to police officials, Sombra's work has led to the seizure of nine tons of cocaine and the arrest of 245 suspects. The anti-narcotic police tweeted that "in the last three years she became a torment of 'Otoniel,'" an alias for Dairo Antonio Úsuga, the leader of the Urabeños.

Do you think the cartel will get their wish?
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« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2018, 06:41:13 pm »

After some delay, Uribe did finally send his official resignation to the Senate, which will vote on it soon. The CD imploring their leader to reconsider his resignation and hold his seat was to no avail, because Uribe is stubborn and doesn't change his mind easily, even when his cultists are begging him to. It is quite telling that the CD's caucus implored Uribe not to resign: they are worried about their lack of an obvious congressional leader who could replace Uribe. I have no doubt that Uribe will continue to control and direct the CD by proxy through his cellphone (which is quite common in Colombian politics already), but the CD will lack his towering presence in the Senate and, if Uribe is preoccupied by other things (like his trials) or uninterested, the CD caucus' unity will be put to the test. There were the first signs of internal cracks in the CD caucus with the dispute, only 'resolved' at the very last minute, between Ernesto Macías and Paola Holguín over the presidency of the Senate. With Uribe potentially unable to personally resolve and mediate such disputes in the future, more cracks may become apparent. This will also weaken the power of Duque's incoming 'steamroller' congressional majority.

Iván Duque will be inaugurated on August 7. He has now nominated all of his cabinet and other senior public positions. A brief summary: it is an 'uribista-macronista' cabinet, mixing both traditional uribismo with little-known technocrats and experts. I've been following Colombian politics as an insane nerd for like 2-3 years now, and I didn't know most of the names! Duque kept his promise for gender parity, with 8/16 ministers being women, although only 3 are younger than 45. No less than six of the 16 ministers are coming from business associations (lobbies), which is a clear indicator of the unprecedented proximity between the new government and Colombia's business elite -- and most ministers come with some sort of private sector experience, or close ties to the business world. In contrast, only three ministers are career politicians (interior, foreign affairs, labour). Although most of the important jobs -- interior, foreign affairs, defence, finance, labour and social prosperity -- are held by uribistas, the new cabinet includes many people with no clear partisan affiliation or political orientation. Some even served in public office during Santos' presidency, which will unsettle some die-hard uribistas (furibistas), and others voted Sí (or are suspected of having done so) in 2016.

Although some of the appointments are questionable, in general Duque passed the first stage of his presidency - cabinet appointments - with flying colours. Given the horror scenarios which had been circulating for months about his potential cabinet, his opponents were expecting some uribista freak show cabinet, so his cabinet - which isn't a pure uribista cabinet, far from it - took them by surprise, leaving them without much to say (but lots of Googling to do). Only the new defence minister, who lacks experience, was heavily criticized by the opposition (the new finance and culture ministers as well, to a lesser extent). From my anti-uribista perspective: while having a bunch of friends of big business groups in cabinet isn't great, all this could have been much, much worse.

InteriorNancy Patricia GutiérrezA career politician from Cundinamarca for what is the most 'political' cabinet position: since police is under the defence ministry, the interior minister's most important role is managing the political relations between the legislative and executive, and leading the government's agenda on issues like local governments, ethnic affairs, decentralization, institutional reform etc. Nancy Gutiérrez was representative (1998-2006) and senator (2006-2010). She was a leading uribista congresswoman, and served as President of the Senate for the 2007-2008 legislative year. She was investigated for parapolítica, but the case was closed in 2014. She was also investigated for allegedly having used classified information collected by the DAS' illegal wiretaps ('chuzadas') against Piedad Córdoba, for which she was placed under house arrest in 2011, but, without any evidence against her, she was acquitted in 2012. She ran for governor of Cundinamarca in 2015 with the support of the CD, Conservatives and factions of other parties, but she lost to Jorge Emilio Rey. Since 2014, she had been head of Asomóvil, the Colombian cellphone providers association. Gutiérrez becomes the first woman interior minister.
External RelationsCarlos Holmes TrujilloColombia's new foreign minister will be Carlos Holmes Trujillo, a seasoned career politician with diplomatic experience. Holmes Trujillo is the scion of an old Liberal political dynasty in the Valle del Cauca (his father was a Liberal congressman, and his brother was a Liberal congressman as well). He was consul and chargé d'affaires at the Colombian embassy in Japan (1976-1982), finance secretary in Cali and was the first directly-elected mayor of Cali, from 1988 to 1990. He served in the constituent assembly in 1991, and then as education minister (1992-1993) under President César Gaviria (a government whose main lasting legacy to education was eliminating history classes, because The End of History). Under President Ernesto Samper, he was High Commissionner for Peace for one year (1994-1995), although he made no real contributions to actual peace negotiations, and then briefly served as interior minister for six months (1997-1998). He ran for governor of the Valle as an uribista Liberal in 2003, but lost to Angelino Garzón. Besides that brief return to electoral politics, Holmes Trujillo served as a diplomat abroad for over a decade: permanent representative to the OAS (1995-1997), ambassador to Austria and to the UN in Vienna (1998-1999), Russia (1999-2001), Sweden (2004-2006) and finally Belgium and the EU (2006-2011). Having been out of it for so long, he returned to politics with little independent base of his own and low name recognition. He was an uribista presidential pre-candidate in both 2013-14 and 2017-18, but was unsuccessful twice -- however, he was Zuluaga's running-mate in 2014. He becomes foreign minister as a trusted uribista politician but also with extensive diplomatic experience, both in bilateral relations and with international organizations.
FinanceAlberto CarrasquillaCarrasquilla is an economist, with a Masters' from UniAndes and a doctorate from the University of Illinois, who served as finance minister during Uribe's first term (2003-2007). Carrasquilla is a very pro-business, right-wing 'neoliberal' who favours limited government, private enterprise, privatization, debt reduction and macroeconomic stability. As finance minister, his policies favoured private investment and big businesses, giving tax breaks and favourable legal treatment to big businesses and multinational corporations (like mining giants) and creating permanent free-trade zones. As finance minister, he oversaw a major pension reform in 2005 (which raised the retirement age), the sale of the banks which had been bailedo out by the Pastrana administration and the market capitalization of Ecopetrol and Isagen. He has been in 'private consulting' since he left cabinet over 10 years ago, and was president of Navenby Investments Group Inc., an investment company headquartered in Panama which was incorporated in 2007 and defaulted in 2014. Carrasquilla's name appeared in the Panama Papers. Carrasquilla is an experienced economist who is very close to Duque (he is head of Duque's transition team) and whose appointment will undoubtedly please businesses and investors. As left-wingers on social media were quick to point out, Carrasquilla once said that Colombia's minimum wage was 'ridiculously high' (yes, because the best way to reduce poverty is to make everyone poorer), that the Chocó was a 'burden', that he proposed privatizing Ecopetrol or that he changed the rules on overtime hours.
JusticeGloria María BorreroBorrero is a lawyer from the Javeriana University and had been director of the 'Corporación Excelencia en la Justicia', one of the leading think-tanks on judicial matters in Colombia, since 2005. She has advised successive governments on issues related to justice and judicial reform since the 1990s, has good relations with magistrates on all of the country's highest courts and is an old university classmate of AG Néstor Humberto Martínez.
DefenceGuillermo BoteroThe new defence minister is a businessman who had been president of the National Federation of Merchants (Fenalco) since 2003. He founded and managed various business ventures in different fields, including floriculture and merchandise storage/handling. Although he has no political experience, he has been close to Uribe for over a decade and was one of the most vocal critics of Santos in the private sector, criticizing his economic policies and implying support for uribista candidate Zuluaga in the 2014 election. Lacking any experience in security or defence matters, his appointment was one of the few which received significant criticisms from the opposition -- and, in my view, quite rightfully so, since defence and security are of even greater importance in Colombia than elsewhere. However, the outgoing defence minister, Luis Carlos Villegas, also came from the private sector: he had been president of the ANDI, the employers' organization. Botero was likely chosen because of his proximity to Uribe, in a portfolio which is of particular interest to Uribe.
AgricultureAndrés ValenciaValencia Pinzón is an economist who had been president of the National Federation of Aviculture (Fenavi) since 2013. He is an experienced technocrat who has worked in the public sector since the 1990s, notably in the National Planning Department (DNP), for 10 years in the foreign trade ministry and with Colombia's permanent mission to the WTO in Geneva. He worked under Marta Lucía Ramírez when she was Pastrana's foreign trade minister in the late 1990s. His main areas of policy expertise are foreign trade (free trade, tariffs) and agriculture. He was director of the Colombian Agricultural and Livestock Institute (ICA), the national sanitary and phytosanitary authority, for two years between 2006 and 2008. Before heading Fenavi, he was commercial director of the National Federation of Coffee-Growers (Fedecafé) for two years from 2011 to 2013. Furibistas will be displeased to learn that, in 2016, he tweeted praises for Humberto de la Calle, the government's chief peace negotiator at the time. He is another technocratic pick close to the business lobby groups.
Health and Social ProtectionJuan Pablo UribeThe new health minister is a doctor who had been director of the University Hospital of Fundación Santa Fe, one of the most prestigious hospitals in Colombia, since 2011 (and before that from 2004 to 2009). He is an expert on healthcare policy who worked for the World Bank, advising healthcare reforms in Uruguay and Bolivia and as director of health for the East Asia/Pacific region. In Colombia, he was vice minister of health during Pastrana's administration. This may be a thankless job, since everybody hates the healthcare system in Colombia and the health minister invariably gets blamed for it.
LabourAlicia ArangoAlicia Arango is very close to both Iván Duque and Álvaro Uribe, as well as Bogotá mayor Enrique Peñalosa. She was director of Bogotá's sports and recreation institute during Peñalosa's first term in the late 1990s. Very close to Uribe, she was his private secretary during his presidency and he appointed her as ambassador to the UN in Geneva at the end of his term, a position she held until returning to the country in 2013. She was director of the CD from 2013 to 2014. Alicia Arango was one of the key figures and top advisors in Duque's presidential campaign from the beginning, and may be described as a 'bridge' between traditional uribismo 1.0 and 'new' uribismo 2.0. Shortly after the election, she got into some trouble for saying that while Duque was president, the leader was Uribe. As labour minister, she'll have the tough job of managing relations with the unions amidst what is likely to be a very pro-business neoliberal government.
Mines and EnergyMaría Fernanda Suárez LondoñoSuárez Londoño is a technocrat who had been corporate vice president strategy and finances at Ecopetrol since 2015. She led the restructuration of the company to reduce costs after the drop in oil prices. Before that, she worked in the banking sector and was director of public credit in the finance ministry under finance minister Juan Carlos Echeverry (2010-2012), meaning that she worked with the Santos administration. She is described as intelligent, experienced, efficient and effective. Her appointment was well received by the oil, mining and electricty industry.
Commerce, Industry and Tourism (CIT)José Manuel RestrepoRestrepo is an economist, with a Masters from LSE and a doctorate from the University of Bath. He was rector of the College of Advanced Management Studies (CESA) and vice-rector of the Universidad del Rosario, where he had also been an economics professor. He also served as manager of financial planning and budgeting in FONADE, the public agency which finances development projects. His main area of expertise appears to be post-secondary education and financial management, so I'm not sure what the rationale for him in commerce is. Once again, furibistas will be displeased to learn that Restrepo attended the ceremony for the signature of the first peace agreement in Cartagena in 2016 and tweeting that Santos deserved recognition for his work for peace. They had also accused him of 'persecuting' No supporters at the Universidad del Rosario.
National EducationMaría Victoria AnguloMaría Victoria Angulo is an economist who was secretary of education in Bogotá until her appointment. She has a technocratic profile specialized in education for nearly 15 years, as director of development of higher education in education ministry (2007-2011) and director of 'Empresarios por la Educación' foundation (2011-2015), an NGO supported by powerful businessmen who promote close ties between education and the private sector (which is the basis of Duque's educational policy). Her father was education minister for a year in the 1980s under Turbay.
Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentRicardo LozanoLozano is a geologist who was director of the ANDI's national water centre until his appointment. He was director of the public Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (2008-2013); afterwards he founded a consulting firm for private businesses on climate change and sustainability. He is an expert on climate change and sustainable development issues, with international experience, with the IPCC and UNFCCC.
Housing, City and TerritoryJonathan MalagónMalagón, 33 and born in Riohacha (La Guajira), is an economist who had been vice president of the banking association (Asobancaria) for the past four years. He is an acclaimed academic with numerous awards and distinctions (Eisenhower Fellowship in 2017), and author of several publications. He has worked with the Anif (financial institutions' association), Fedesarrollo (socioeconomic policy research institute), the IT/Communications ministry, Telefónica; and consultant for the World Bank, UNDP and the Andean Development Corporation (CAF). At Asobancaria, he worked on files including regulation, financial inclusion, housing, risks, markets, means of payment etc.
IT and Communications (TIC)Silvia ConstainConstain is a technocrat who has worked in the public sector (Colombian mission to the WTO, DNP, commerce ministry, Proexport, embassy in Washington DC) and the private sector abroad (public policy for Facebook Latin America, Apple Chile). Given her experience on commerce and trade, it is odd that she didn't get the commerce ministry.
CultureCarmen Inés VásquezThe new culture minister is an Afro-Colombian woman from Buenaventura, and had been vice minister for participation and equality of rights in the interior ministry (2014-2016) and minister plenipotentiary to the OAS. Previously, she worked in the Comptroller's Office (2006-2010) under comptroller general Julio César Turbay Quintero. She is an unusual pick for an uribista cabinet: she worked with the Santos administration, including during the peace process, which means that she publicly supported the peace agreement and attended the ceremony in Cartagena in 2016. Her appointment was criticized because she has no experience on cultural issues.
TransportationÁngela OrozcoOrozco, very close to VP Marta Lucía Ramírez, is a former vice minister of foreign trade (1998-2000), foreign trade minister (2002) and president of Proexport (2000-2002). Like other ministers and the new government, she supports a pro-business economic policy and free trade. She was president of Asograsas, the fats and edible oils association.



National Planning Department (DNP)Gloria AlonsoThe new head of the DNP - the government's planning department, which notably puts together the new government's four-year national development plan (policy agenda) - is Gloria Alonso, vice-comptroller general since 2015. She is an economist and experienced technocrat who worked for two decades with the Bank of the Republic (central bank) and three years in the finance ministry as director of macroeconomic policy. As vice-comptroller, she modernized the entity to work more on best practices, new auditing mechanisms and greater transparency/open data.
Department of Social Prosperity (DPS)Susana CorreaThe DPS, which manages a huge budget and administers a bunch of social programs, welfare benefits, will be led by former CD senator (2014-2018) Susana Correa. She comes from a wealthy background (her father was a business owner) and has been close to Uribe since the mid-2000s. She was held hostage by the ELN for a year (2001-03). Thanks to her proximity to Uribe, she was appointed to liquidate Emsirva (which was the public waste management company in Cali), in which capacity she adjudicated a landfill to a company owned by a personal friend of President Uribe. Her family was also among the top beneficiaries of the Uribe administration's corrupt AIS (agricultural subsidies program). From 2008 to 2010, she was general manager of Emcali, Cali's public utilities provider. Correa tried to run for mayor of Cali in 2011, but was compelled to drop out after a scandal, but she ended up supporting the eventual winner, Rodrigo Guerrero. As senator, Correa wrote or co-wrote 77 proposed pieces of legislation. She managed Duque's campaign in the Valle.
Secretary General of the PresidencyJorge Mario EastmanThe secretary general of the presidency is the president's chief of staff. Jorge Mario Eastman, a lawyer, is the son of a Liberal politician from Pereira and a childhood friend of Iván Duque (whose father was also a Liberal politician). Eastman worked with Humberto de la Calle in the 1990s (when he was interior minister, presidential pre-candidate in 1994 and vice president), and was vice minister when de la Calle was Pastrana's interior minister (2000-2001). He was also Deputy High Commissioner for Peace during Pastrana's administration, in charge of the failed peace talks with the ELN. Under Uribe, he was twice vice minister of defence (2003-2006, 2009-2010) and presidential advisor for communications (2006-2009). For the last 8 years, he was out of the public spotlight, running a consulting firm for conflict resolution and strategic communications. Some months ago, during the presidential campaign, he briefly was Juan Carlos Pinzón's running-mate, but when Pinzón dropped out, Eastman endorsed Duque and joined his campaign. Eastman voted Sí in 2016, which may help moderate Duque's policies towards the peace agreement (and may anger some furibistas, given that the chief of staff is always someone powerful and close to the president).

Some more or less confirmed diplomatic appointments:

Viviane Morales, now mostly known for leading various homophobic and Christian evangelical causes, is likely to be ambassador to France, where she can rant about the gays with Christine Boutin.

Alejandro Ordóñez, he who burned books, will likely be Colombia's ambassador to the OAS, which is a somewhat important job but anything which keeps Ordóñez away from Colombia is to be welcomed. I guess he too can rant about the gays with Mike Pence.

Pacho Santos, Uribe's vice president (2002-2010), will be ambassador to the United States. The Colombian embassy in the US is the most important diplomatic appointment and often goes to political supporters (or potential rivals who need to be kept close and distant at the same time). Pacho is too erratic and somewhat insane to be trusted with a cabinet appointment. I guess this also means he won't run for mayor of Bogotá next year.
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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2018, 02:14:07 pm »

Now, Uribe is 'un-resigning' (withdrawing his resignation). Officially, according to his tweet, "for reasons of honour, it has never been in my mind that the Supreme Court stops hearing the case". Of course, we all know that Uribe has no real sense of morality or honour.

The real reason, as La Silla Vacía has been doing a great job at explaining, is that time is now playing in Uribe's favour over at the Supreme Court. On Monday, the Court announced that it was suspending the case because Uribe's lawyers asked for the recusal of the three magistrates who announced the opening of the investigation. The Court now needs to consider the recusal of three of its magistrates before doing anything else.

In addition, a recent reform has created a new system ('doble instancia', i.e. right to a second hearing/appeal) for 'aforados' (politicians protected by a special 'fuero', like congressmen), and Uribe will be among those trying it out for the first time. The new system has created two new special chambers ('sala de instrucción', which investigates cases and eventually accuses before the 'sala especial de primer instancia', whose rulings may be appealed to the existing criminal appeals chamber). As always, the Supreme Court works very slowly and has been taking forever to elect one of the three magistrates of the 'sala especial' and all six of the magistrates of the new 'sala de instrucción' (who will be the ones investigating Uribe/Prada's file), largely because of internal conflicts between the 'blocs' on the court. All of a sudden, the names of the six judges of the 'sala de instrucción' will be of great importance (whereas usually nobody cares or knows about the election of Supreme Court magistrates). Anyway, as far as Uribe is concerned, time is fully in his favour: nothing will be happening until the Court (a) considers his lawyers' demands for recusal and (b) actually elects the people who will be investigating his case. The CD's begging and imploring probably pushed him to reconsider his resignation, because politically they'd have been left leaderless in Congress just as Porky is to take office.

For now, Uribe has scored a win-win: as I explained, the Court's legendary lethargy plays in his favour, while to the public which only has a brief passing interest in the case, he can pretend that 'for reasons of honour' he is letting the Supreme Court rather than the Fiscalía investigate his case.
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« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2018, 07:43:32 pm »

Juan Manuel Santos leaves office tomorrow. I'm not his biggest fan, and his last year in office has been largely disastrous and useless, but I'll miss him, especially considering the accession of President Porky, his cabinet of lobbyists and caucus of deranged cultists.

I'll repost my effortpost from yesterday:

Quote
Santos is an interesting political figure. He comes from a very comfortable elite background, with his great-uncle having been President (1938-1942) and, perhaps more importantly, his family owning Colombia's leading newspaper of record for over 90 years (also interesting: his father was a Falangist who supported Franco). He is a highly educated and very intelligent man, but he is very uncharismatic (a very poor public speaker), cold, distant and often described as egocentric and ambitious. On his own, he is a bad campaigner and a poor politician. He is a spectacularly poor fit for the age of TV, internet and social media image-driven politics, because he cannot connect with 'regular people'. He would not have won the presidency on his own merits and political abilities; he would not have been president had it not been for other, external factors and individuals -- Uribe in 2010, the dream of 'peace', the corrupt machines and the left in 2014.

I genuinely believe that Santos is a good man with some kind of ethical and moral compass, but he is also a cunning, pragmatic Machiavellian politician who has engaged in his share of nasty, devious and deceitful political tricks to get where he is today and do what he wanted to do. There is an old, still rather vague, 'plot' involving the FARC and paramilitaries in 1990s to remove then-President Samper from office. More famously, Santos, a pragmatic politician with no real ideological convictions, strategically allied with then-President Uribe, calculating that Uribe would dominate politics and that allying with him was the best way to become president later; this strategic move worked marvelously for a while, allowing Santos to appear as a 'more uribista than Uribe' defence minister (2006-2009) during the conflict with the guerrilla and become, by default, Uribe's heir apparent in the 2010 election, which Santos won almost entirely thanks to Uribe's popularity. But this strategic alliance could only work for a time, as Uribe and Santos are two very different men coming from very different backgrounds and with different visions of politics. When Santos, after becoming president, distanced himself from Uribe's (imagined and mythicized) legacy, particularly by becoming chummy with Hugo Chávez and then opening peace talks with the guerrilla (publicly in 2012), Uribe - a proud, stubborn and spiteful man - saw this as a betrayal, and has dedicated himself to violently opposing Santos in his every move (even when, in reality, President Uribe did or supported a lot of what he later attacked Santos for doing). Santos has said that he never expected Uribe to be such a violent opponent. In many ways, Uribe has been successful, in the short-term, in spoiling Santos' presidency (especially the second term) and turning public opinion against Santos. This may reinforce claims that Uribe is doing this because Santos' 'betrayal' hurt his sense of pride, and now seeks to take his revenge to redeem his own pride...

Santos' crowning achievement, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016, is the peace agreement with the FARC, 'ending' the oldest armed conflict in the Americas (the FARC was created in 1964) and successfully demobilizing and disarming a guerilla of over 8,000 men, in one of the most historically successful demobilization and disarmament processes (1.32 weapon for each demobilized fighter; in Uribe's paramilitary demobilization, there were nearly 2 times as many men demobilized as there were weapons surrendered). The peace talks began secretly in 2011, formally began in Cuba in 2012 and lasted for four years, reaching a final agreement in 2016. The controversial subject of 'peace' had dominated political debates. The peace agreement signed with the FARC is the longest, most thorough peace deal in Colombian history (and a model for the world), as it is not only a simple DDR process with a guerrilla group but, ideally, a road map for sustainable peace which addresses the causes and fuels of war (land reform, democratization, drugs) and seeks to heal the wounds of war with a comprehensive transitional justice system (including a truth commission and a judicial process) explicitly aimed at satisfying victims' rights. Obviously, not everyone can agree with the specific clauses of the peace agreement, particularly as it relates to deeply emotional sacrifices made to reach a higher goal (peace) -- like accepting political participation or no jail sentences for guerrilla commanders who committed horrendous war crimes. The peace agreement, in part, explains the significant reduction in homicide rates since 2010, to an all-time low of 23/100,000 in 2017, although it will likely increase in 2018. The number of 'new' victims of war - IDPs, victims of anti-personnel mines etc. - has fallen since 2010 to all-time lows (although low-intensity conflict continues and causes more victims and forced displacement every day). In 2011, his government secured passage of the historic victims' and land restitution law, providing the first real legal framework for reparations for victims including more accessible land restitution, hailed abroad as an ambitious model for victims' rights. It has had clear successes, going further in satisfying victims' rights and providing the first steps towards land restitution (a major issue), but it is costing far more than the government budgeted.

The peace process was very difficult, a long and grueling process which hurt Santos' popularity and created a ton of headaches for him. I genuinely believe that, even if Santos did it in part to flatter his own ego and 'make history', he was far bolder and braver than many other presidents. By the end, he knew that it was hurting 'his polls', but he didn't really care. He thought of peace for a long time, with a finely-tuned plan and strategy which allowed him to suceeded where everyone else had failed, and I think that in a world where politicians think only for the short-term, obsess over their polls and hesitate to make bold (courageous) decisions, Santos deserves a lot of credit for being bold when he could have been cautious.

Unfortunately, the implementation of the peace agreement has been complicated. It began with the unexpected victory of the No in the 2016 plebiscite, which Santos did not see coming. To many, calling for a plebiscite - being under no legal obligation to do so - to ratify the peace agreement was Santos' biggest mistake and a fatal miscalculation. Instead of legitimizing the peace agreement and ending Uribe's political career, the plebiscite divided the country, de-legitimized the (renegotiated) peace agreement signed in November 2016 and rekindled Uribe's political career. Even once a renegotiated peace agreement was signed and ratified - by Congress this time - it lacked legitimacy in the eyes of half the country, and it continued to be steadfastly opposed at every turn by Uribe's opposition. The implementation in Congress was, at best, partially successful in 2017, getting some very important laws and constitutional reforms through, but ending up much slower than expected and with far less stuff getting done than expected. Many important laws needed to fully implement the peace agreement (as it relates to land reform and illicit crop substitution) remain in uncertain limbo. Given the new government, it is likely that the reality will fall short of the ideal promise of sustainable, transformative peace. Santos, increasingly unpopular and abandoned by former friends, seems to have lost interest in ensuring the smooth implementation of the peace agreement. His government has been unable to control the growth and expansion of new criminal groups, including drug trafficking criminal networks and FARC dissidents, which are spreading violence and terror in certain regions of the country. His government's response to a massive upsurge in assassinations (200+) of social and community leaders (activists etc.) since 2016 has been calamitous, only really taking notice this year (too little, far too late). His government has been unable to fill the void left by the demobilization of the FARC in remote, peripheral regions. His government has been unable to control a massive increase in illicit crops (since 2013-4), ballooning from 61,000 ha. in 2010 to perhaps over 200,000 ha. in 2017. Santos is an advocate of rethinking the war on drugs, with a more 'public health' approach to drug use and a less militaristic response to illicit crops. The crop substition and alternative development plans created by the peace agreement have been very slow to get going, and the all-time high levels of illicit crops in Colombia are now creating a potential timebomb which is already having a disastrous effect on peace in certain regions.

His economic record is a mixed bag. Colombia has been hurt by the fall in oil prices, leading to a significant economic slowdown since 2015 with stagnant growth, although Colombia has avoided recession and has been able to manage the fall in oil revenues better than many oil-dependent economies. However, in better times, his government failed to take advantage of the possibilities offered by high oil prices and was accused of 'wasting' oil revenues, which forced the government to cut spending and adopt an unpopular - and still incomplete - tax reform in 2016. Santos was unable to reduce Colombia's dependence on oil, and, in fact, his government - like Uribe - continued to promote an extractive economic model (mining, oil etc.) with his so-called 'mining locomotive', which has led to increased environmental conflicts in certain regions. His government made infrastructure a top priority, and his ambitions in part paid off, with a record number of kilometres of roads built (1400), airports expanded and harbours modernized. The '4G highways' have made transportation, communication and trade easier, reducing travel times in a country which has always had very poor infrastructure, bad roads and very long travel times. The government expanded internet connectivity and has significantly reduced the 'digital gap', allowing more people in more remote regions to access internet, notably in many public places (Wifi in public places in major Colombian cities like Medellín is miles above Wifi in public places in Canada). Under Santos, over 5 million people escaped poverty (from 30% to 17% in the multi-dimensional poverty index since 2010), and formal employment has also increased, so that today, in the major cities, there are more formal than informal workers. His government's ambitious housing program (100,000 low-cost or free houses for low-income families) was a success, miraculously largely free of corruption. Still, informality, unemployment (9%), underemployment and low wages remain far too high. 

Colombia remains one of the most unequal countries on earth, and Santos' government - which, in reality, continued to follow a traditional 'neoliberal' or orthodox economic policy - did not really make inequality one of its priorities, particularly according to left-wing critics. His healthcare and education policies were more oriented towards 'fixing' problems or resolving more egregious inequities in the system rather than rethinking the whole models. He made education a big priority, with a new program offering grants low-income students with good grades to go to university, but now this program has far more critics than supporters, because it fell short of its objectives and, critics claim, gave money to private universities rather than using that money to benefit more students in public universities. School lunches have become a major corruption scandal, with the government losing control of the program and lost track of the money. The healthcare system remains very poor, with a plethora of problems, which the government has been unable to adequately address. Healthcare is still costing a lot of money to the government (which subsidizes health insurance for the poor), clinics and hospitals have massive debts and private insurers are too often mired in scandals or bankruptcies. In legal terms, the government made strides in guaranteeing access to healthcare as a right, and the health minister fought hard to regulate drug prices despite massive opposition from big pharma and the US government. The government regulated access to euthanasia (allowed by court ruling since 1997, but unregulated for years) and the legalization of medical marijuana.

Santos' 8 years were rocked by many protests and strikes. The biggest one, the first big hit to his popularity, were the 'agrarian protests' of 2013, which Santos handled catastrophically, at first denying the existence of any protests (à la Baghdad Bob). Time and time again, the government was taken by surprise and put on the defensive by new protests and their demands, forcing the government to belatedly rush to the negotiating tables and offer various concessions and make various promises, which in most cases were not kept. He was also criticized for the abusive use of force against protesters. Protests are not, in my mind, necessarily negative or a sign of impeding disaster or national collapse, but the problem with Santos has been his difficulty at controlling and satifsfying social demands, which ties back to his inability to really connect with 'regular people'. People don't trust him, or his government, and a string of unmet promises from various protests/strikes in 8 years have reinforced that popular distrust.

I don't think Santos is corrupt, but he has had no problem in allying with the most corrupt of Colombia's famously corrupt politicians and political machines, and in surrounding himself with people who turned a blind eye to corruption, starting with his own presidential campaigns, both of which were illegally financed by corrupt Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht. The Odebrecht scandal has implicated a former Santos campaign manager, former cabinet ministers, several pro-government congressmen and many government functionaries. Santos' reaction was pathetic, almost as bad as Samper's reaction to the Proceso 8.000 (his campaign financed by the Cali cartel): declaring in a public statement on TV "I just found out". For the good part of 8 years, Santos maintained his 'governability' - his congressional majorities - thanks to pork-barrel funding, or the infamous marmalade (public resources distributed via pro-government congressmen, ostensibly to finance various projects in the congressmen's regions, with bribes and embezzlement every step of the way). Santos' government did adopt various laws and policies to improve transparency, accountability and reduce corruption, but he was unable, and at times unwilling, to see corruption around him or to really address the problem.

According to María Jimena Duzán, a fine journalist/activist, Santos is like a Shakespearian tragedic hero.

Also, here's a new video where Santos does his own 'roast yourself challenge' in a (bad) remake of Taylor Swift's Look What You Made Me Do.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOmbfplHsvA
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« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2018, 06:51:27 pm »

Porky, also known as Iván Duque, has now been sworn in as President of Colombia (2018-2022).

What stood out, however, was the 30 or so minute speech by the President of the Senate, Ernesto Macías (CD), which preceded Duque's inaugural address. Macías' speech, which given the Twitter reactions has overshadowed Duque's own speech, was an inappropriate, shameful and vengeful hate-filled speech motivated by revenge and narrow-minded partisanship. Macías, despite speaking before foreign heads of state (Lenín Moreno, EPN, Macri, Piñera etc.) and the entire country, gave the kind of speech you would expect at a party convention rather than an inaugural address. After giving cultist-like praises to Uribe, depicted as a selfless hero who restored honour and security to the country, he launched into a long tirade against Juan Manuel Santos, mentioning Santos by name and explicitly blaming him and his outgoing administration for handing over a country which is in a "sinkhole" (literal). He painted a very, very dark and bleak portrait of a country 'at war' (!), which is terrorized, with an economy practically in ruins and corruption rampant (he even explicitly mentioned the corruption/Odebrecht accusations against Santos' two campaigns). Basically, think of Trump's RNC speech -- and imagine that at an official inauguration attended by foreign presidents! Alarmingly, Macías' spiteful venomous speech, in mentioning the peace agreement, explicitly denied the existence of the armed conflict in Colombia (!), claiming that there is only a "terrorist threat", which is typical far-right furibista language and also very much Back to 2002.

Macías' speech was made all the more horrible by the fact that, for months and again today in his inaugural address, Duque has been reiterating that he would not govern with hate, desires of revenge, 'rear view mirrors' and repeatedly stressed the need for reconciliation, unity and dialogue. Macías' speech entirely contradicted much of Duque's inaugural address (and campaign speeches). While Duque again spoke of 'a new generation' not motivated by revenge or litigating the past, Macías' preface was the exact opposite: hate, litigating the past (8 years), revenge. While Duque again spoke of overcoming polarization, Macías' preface was the exact opposite: attacking the previous government for a wide range of problems (many of which are not true or are exaggerated).

Duque's inaugural address was unremarkable. Basically the same 45 minute stump speech he repeated when he won and throughout the campaign. No surprises. The same phony 'centrism', the same phony 'unity'/'reconciliation' etc. Duque's speech doesn't matter. Duque is the pretty façade of uribismo 1.0. Duque is a useful idiot.

Macías' terrible speech risks destroying any kind of goodwill or 'wait and see' benefit of the doubt that Duque's skeptics, critics and opponents may still have had for him. At least two congressmen, Roy Barreras (U) and Juan Carlos Losada (Liberal), left the ceremony in protest at Macías' speech. I was willing to give Duque the benefit of the doubt myself, but after Macías' hateful speech, I'm not wasting any goodwill on Porky or his far-right party. Macías' speech wasn't random: it was premeditated, written long in advance (probably not by Macías since the high school graduate is an idiot) and part of the plan all along. I fully agree with Colombian journalist Felix de Bedout's takes on Macías:

Quote
"Mr. Macias is not introducing the new president he is notifying him of the orders he has to follow."

"Let there be no doubt that Mr. Macias's speech is the greatest shame in the history of presidential inaugurations in the history of Colombia."

"Mr. Macias' speech is an open threat and a peremptory notification to the president of what his government may or may not do. Dark."

"But do not be deceived by that incendiary, threatening and mesquine speech, out of place and out of tone, of Mr. Macias is not casual, it is not improvised or unknowing. It is a notification to the government and the rest of the Colombians."

"If President Duque does not promptly disavow Mr. Macías's infamous speech, all of his well-meaning words will be carried by this afternoon's gale in the Plaza de Bolívar."

Macías' speech is a clear message notifying: (a) all Colombians, that the new government has a hidden agenda beyond Duque's smiles, guitar talents and football tricks, and that hidden agenda is a vengeful Trumpian desire to undo what Santos, the infamous traitor, did; (b) Duque himself, that he is a puppet of Uribe and that his powers are to be limited by Uribe's real intentions; (c) that uribismo 2.0 is only a façade, because uribismo remains a bellicose far-right ideology controlled by Uribe and his cultists (like Macías the high schooler).

Other reactions:

Héctor Abad F. wonders if there will be a bigger imbecile than 'this guy Macías'

Clara López (de la Calle's running mate) says that Macías' speech confirms that the CD won't let Duque as he wishes.

Rodrigo Bejarano, a columnist, tweeted "Atrocious, ordinary, vengeful and inappropriate speech of the Pdt. of the Senate Macías with which the Democratic Center inaugurates the reconciliation. Dark days are coming for Colombia. Never before had such impudence been seen in a presidential inauguration"

W Radio journalist Camila Zuluaga tweeted "The speech by Senate President Ernesto Macias makes it clear that who is in charge is Senator Uribe. It makes clear to President Duque that the leader is the former president and not him."

Former housing minister and Vargas Lleras loyalist Luis Felipe Henao laments a country whose Congress is presided by Macías, a 'sniper of hate'. 'Back to the past'... you know it's bad when Vargas Lleras' people are agreeing with you.

Former senator Claudia López tweeted "Macías managed in a few minutes to embarrass the Senate, the country and leave President Duque in the background. But I do not think that one did not know the speech of the other. The division of labour of the campaign is maintained: the aggressor and the reconcilator."

RCN news director and usually uribismo's useful idiot Claudia Gurisatti (who makes no secret of her sympathies for the right), thought Macías' speech wasn't convenient or good for the country. No worries though: she quickly RTed some Uribe tweet and relayed Duque's nonsense about centrism and the future.

On the other hand, furibistas, like Ernesto Yamhure (old friend of Carlos Castaño) are praising Macías' speech. There's no doubt that Macías' speech, likely written or dictated by the Eternal President himself, represents the real emotions of the furibista base: revenge and persecution of opponents.

The opposition, led by Gustavo Petro, met Duque's inauguration with protests and marches across the country today, attended by the base of the new Colombian opposition: opposition parties (Col. Humana, Polo, Greens, UP, Communists), unions, students, victims' associations etc. It is largely dedicated to the 200+ social leaders assassinated and others threatened, under the banners of peace. Petro tweeted that Macías and Duque's speeches were complementary ('one is angry, the other is decent, but the background is the same'). He's not wrong.

Good luck, Colombia. You'll need it.
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« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2018, 10:00:27 pm »

Another alarming passage from High School Grad Macías' speech: he stressed the need to 'change the mentality' of the military.

Given the mentality of the military under the Eternal President, I assume that this can only really mean one thing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22False_positives%22_scandal
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« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2018, 04:39:41 pm »

Noticias Uno 'infiltrated' a private post-inauguration CD party, recording what uribistas were saying behind closed doors: https://canal1.com.co/noticias/exclusivo-habla-uribismo-privado/

Those present - including senators Paloma Valencia, María del Rosario Guerra, Álvaro Uribe, Ruby Chagüí - all praised Macías' infamous speech. Uribe said that it was "absolutely necessary", Paloma Valencia pointedly and revealingly added that, without it, they'd be blamed for all the problems. Ruby Chagüí, an Uribe loyalist/confidante freshly elected, mocked Evo Morales' apparent shock/discomfort at Macías' speech. All were in very high spirits and extremely cocky.

Controversially, all present criticized or mocked the 'anti-corruption referendum' scheduled for August 26, which then-candidate Duque and the CD had publicly promised to support. In the video, Uribe says that Duque should distance himself from the 'anti-corruption referendum', which is being actively promoted by Claudia López, the Greens and Petro. A lot of the uribista base is said to be opposed to the 'anti-corruption referendum' because it is supported predominantly by the left, and uribista dogma holds that anything supported by los mamertos is automatically bad. Maybe I'll post a thread on this 'anti-corruption referendum' later this month. I doubt it will pass.

VP Marta Lucía Ramírez seemed to be rather displeased, or at least unpleasantly shocked, by Macías' speech. Please betray.



I don't wish to start another Israel-related debate here, but it appears as if Santos' parting foreign policy gift is the diplomatic recognition of Palestine: https://canal1.com.co/noticias/gobierno-colombiano-reconoce-palestina-estado-soberano/

Colombia was the only South American country which did not recognize Palestine. During the campaign, there was a rumour that Duque would follow Trump and move the embassy to Jerusalem, but Duque backtracked. Uribismo tends to be pretty pro-Israeli, although it is an extremely minor issue in the realm of Colombian foreign policy.
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« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2018, 04:43:10 pm »

Is the history of Arab migration to Latin America related to the fact that so many countries in that region recognize Palestine?
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« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2018, 06:11:34 pm »

So, to be clear, the Liberals and Conservatives can essentially hold Duque captive?
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« Reply #16 on: August 09, 2018, 05:20:37 pm »

So, to be clear, the Liberals and Conservatives can essentially hold Duque captive?

Numerically, any combination of parties with more seats than the CD can hold Duque 'captive', although despite Macías' speech, I still don't foresee any major clashes between the executive and legislative for the next 12 months (although I could be wrong). I still think the old adage about the first year belonging to the president will hold true.

The Conservatives are unlikely to oppose the government, they're far more likely to pose as a loyal coalition partner at least while Duque remains popular. The Conservatives have readopted Marta Lucía Ramírez as one of their own (despite over four years of mutual disdain and bad blood between her and the congressmen, and vice-versa), and they have also laid claim to Botero, the defence minister. By readopting Marta Lucía and supporting the new government, the Conservatives believe that they have finally resolved their internal conflict (which began in 2012-3) and are hopeful that they can use this newfound unity to revamp and modernize that party's image, in the style of Marta Lucía and her brand of moderate conservatism. There is a proposal to reform the party's statute to weaken the power of congressmen in the party executive and expand it to include representatives from civil society (trade unions, businessmen, even LGBT) -- although, at the end of the day, the Conservatives remain a party sustained by corrupt caciques.

The Liberals may be somewhat more likely, in the long-term, to play hardball with Duque, especially over peace (if they have any principles left). Despite being left visibly queasy by Macías' speech, there is no real sign of independence/opposition coming from Liberals, even from the more 'left-wing' sectors (Luis Fernando Velasco). The uncertainty is the strength of the anti-Gaviria faction within the Liberal congressional caucus, which may or may not prove to be slightly more independent from the government. But the Liberals, like the Conservatives, remain Duque's 'first class' allies of choice, and Duque will continue going out of his way to treat them as such.

The Partido de la U (parts thereof) and CR are more likely to hold Duque 'captive'. They're both 'second class' partners, who came to Duque's campaign in the second round for lack of any better alternative and without Duque lobbying them or offering them anything in exchange. Both parties, well accustomed to power and the old rules of the game over the past 8 years, are left as 'second class' allies that Duque doesn't really care about. He has a cabinet of uribistas, technocrats and big business lobbyists, without any partisan 'quotas' besides his own camp, and he is continuing to insist that he will govern without marmalade, which is sure to leave the U and CR frustrated and dissatisfied, sitting on the sidelines without anyone catering to them. Over the past few weeks, there have been repeated stories of the U and CR, apparently pushed by Vargas Lleras, to form a common front to increase their bargaining power vs. the government. Rodrigo Lara (CR) has been surprisingly vocal in his criticisms of Macías' speech, despite having made Santos' life hell over the last year as president of the lower house. Roy Barreras and Armando Benedetti of the U will not support the government (Roy Barreras is saying he'll defend Santos' legacy). That being said, a lot of the less visible and mediatized U (and probably CR) congresspeople are former uribistas and/or shameless power-hungry opportunists.

One of the new government's first bills presented before Congress is a political reform which would make closed lists compulsory in congressional and local elections (as well as mandatory primary elections before that), something which a lot of congressmen don't like. So the government is taking a risk and could face congressional backlash over closed lists (Santos tried in 2015 and 2017 to push closed lists in political reforms, but both times was forced to backtrack). But the rest of this early political reform and anti-corruption measures, with the exception of congressional term-limits (likely sweetened by not making them retroactive, like with FBM), are pretty  non-threatening to congressmen's interests (for one, the CNE will remain a useless politicized entity).
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« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2018, 10:24:48 am »

This coming Monday (which is actually a public holiday in Colombia, one of its many 'lunes festivos'), congressmen will be forced to show up to work (the horror) to elect the new Comptroller General.

The Comptroller General is well, the comptroller, and is the head of the Contraloría General, an independent 'control organism' (órgano de control) monitoring the fiscal management and public policy outcomes of the central government. The Comptroller General exercises 'a posteriori' control and oversight, which to some critics means that it is left doing the 'autopsies' after corruption, embezzlement etc., although the 1991 Constitution introduced the requirement for subsequent, a posteriori control to avoid corruption being 'scheduled into' policies. The Comptroller General has the power to impose and collect financial sanctions (fines) on public officials/civil servants, and to initiate criminal or disciplinary charges before the competent authorities, with the power to request the immediate suspension of a public official while the appropriate proceedings are taking place. Doing so, the Comptroller General can recover money lost to corruption -- although, many claim that what it's able to recover is a tiny amount compared to what is being lost each year, and even compared to its own operating budget.

The Comptroller General isn't as prominent an office as the AG, Inspector General (Procuraduría) or the courts, because it doesn't quite have the ability to make politicians sh**t their pants in fear, but the effectiveness of the Contraloría has increased in recent years, becoming more independent and more effective in its task of tracking the public money and denouncing corruption. The Comptroller General's office is still treated as something of a bureaucratic 'quota', and the selection process becomes more of a political competition than a debate over fiscal management.

This is the first election under the new rules of the 2015 constitutional reform: elected by a joint session of Congress for a four-year term concurrent to that of the President, following a public, meritocratic selection process - where candidates are externally evaluated (by a university this year) on the basis of their knowledge and merits (their resume). Prior to 2015, the Comptroller was elected by a joint session of Congress from candidates nominated by the ConCourt, Supreme Court and Council of State (so from 3 candidates). This year, Congress narrowed down a list of 59 candidates to ten finalists, ordered on the basis of their combined results from the knowledge and merit portions of the evaluation. This process has not been exempt from controversy: leave it to Congress to (presumably illegally) change the rules to benefit someone and pick and choose the methods they want to pick the finalists. But, despite all that, the new process does appear to be marginally preferable: in the past, the comptroller general was basically treated as a bureaucratic 'quota' to be parcelled out to an ally who would then close his eyes to your government's sh**t. This is how, for example, Comptroller General David Turbay Turbay (1994-1998) was convicted for the Proceso 8.000 (Cali cartel money). In fact, most comptroller generals until the 1990s were corrupt. Oh, Colombia.

The outgoing Comptroller General is Edgardo Maya, a Liberal and former Inspector General (2001-2009) who was elected to the office in 2014. Maya has modernized fiscal oversight in Colombia with the introduction of a new 'model of fiscal control', making use of new technologies and international best practices, and it has been fairly effective in uncovering and denouncing corruption scandals like the haemophilia cartel in Córdoba, the Cartagena refinery scandal (Reficar), the school lunches mafias, the -up of the National Games in Ibagué ("you think Montreal 1976 was bad? Hold my coffee") etc. etc. etc. In his final report of activities, he rang the alarm about the risk of corruption, saying that if corruption is not destroyed, corruption will destroy the rule of law.

The Congress will choose from 10 candidates. An absolute majority is required. The main candidates are:

José Félix Lafaurie: The most controversial candidate, whose election would probably be a disaster. Lafaurie is the current president of the National Federation of Cattle Ranchers (Federación Nacional de Ganaderos, Fedegán), one of the most powerful and influential 'guilds' (gremios) in Colombia, and is the husband of uribista senator María Fernanda Cabal, who is a lunatic far-right nutjob (her top hits include: claiming the 1928 banana massacre is a communist myth; comparing the peace agreement to ISIS etc.). Lafaurie is from an elite Conservative family in Santa Marta. In the public sector, he served as departmental assemblyman in Cesar, departmental manager of the old social security administration, president of the Valledupar chamber of commerce, director of the local CAR (environmental authority) and briefly vice minister of agriculture in 1991. Like his father before him, he is a wealthy cotton producer. From 1998 to 2001, he was vice comptroller under comptroller general Carlos Ossa. Under Álvaro Uribe, he was appointed Superintendent of Notaries and Registries in 2002, serving for two years (until 2004), when he was forced out by a disciplinary sanction from the Procuraduría (then run by Edgardo Maya) for influence peddling from his time as vice comptroller (accepting recommendations from congressmen for bureaucratic appointments in the Contraloría). Lafaurie's appeals to the Council of State and ConCourt both failed. Lafaurie was also mentioned by ex-congresswoman Yidis Medina as being among the government officials who convinced her to change her vote on the presidential re-election amendment in 2004 (in exchange for bribes and bureaucratic 'quotas'), but Lafaurie was conveniently acquitted by another arch-conservative, then-Inspector General Alejandro "book burner" Ordóñez. Lafaurie was called in for questioning in 2011 over suspicious meetings with then-agriculture minister Andrés Felipe Arias, convicted for the Agro Ingreso Seguro scandal.

Leaving the government, he has presided Fedegán for 14 years, but has remained very active politically: he is a loyal uribista who celebrated Uribe's reelection in 2006, supported 'uribito' (Duque-before-Duque) Andrés Felipe Arias' presidential campaign in 2010 and was very outspoken opponent of Santos' peace process with the FARC, the victims' and land restitution law of 2011 and the peace agreement's section on rural-land reform (which is to be expected from the representative of Fedegán). Fedegán is the most controversial of the major gremios because cattle ranchers were the top initiators, supporters, promoters and funders of paramilitarism in Colombia and the ties of cattle ranchers, particularly in the Caribbean region, to paramilitarism have been extensively documented. In 2006, Lafaurie himself admitted that cattle ranchers had financed paramilitarism (they did far more than just give money, though: they actively formed autodefensas as well). However, in 2012, when his predecessor as head of Fedegán, Jorge Aníbal Visbal (later ambassador to Canada and Peru, and senator), was arrested for his ties to paramilitaries in the 1990s, Lafaurie came out in his defence, claiming that he was paying the price for his 'courgeous work' and daring to criticize the guerrilla (Visbal was finally found guilty and sentenced to 9 years imprisonment in June). Lafaurie has insisted that land restitution hurts 'owners in good faith' (i.e. current occupiers of the land, presumed to be 'in good faith', but many likely obtained the land from illegal dispossesion/theft by paramilitaries). The new government wants to revise the victims' law to protect these so-called 'owners in good faith'.

Lafaurie had several confrontations with Santos and his agriculture ministers. In late December 2015, the ministry of agriculture stripped Fedegán from the administration of the parafiscal fund for cattle (Fondo Nacional de Ganado, FNG), which it had administered since its creation in 1993. For several years beforehand, Fedegán (and Lafaurie) had been accused by the government, the comptroller general and dissident cattle ranchers for the financial mismanagement of the fund's resources, its massive debts and its undemocratic governance. Various audits by the Contraloría and former agriculture minister Juan Camilo Restrepo (one of uribismo's arch-enemies) confirmed mismanagement and untransparent administration of the fund. But Lafaurie claimed that the decision was 'political persecution' by the government against Fedegán for his opposition to the peace process.

Lafaurie's candidacy is the most controversial. His inclusion in the top 10 is controversial and owes to the congressional leadership changing the rules to favour him. Lafaurie did very poorly in the evaluation of merits (academic, professional experience, publications etc.), getting only a 30 and ranking 44th out of 59; but he did very well on the knowledge test, getting 88, the second-highest score. In the pondered final ranking, combining both scores, he is 19th out of 59. Lafaurie bitched about how "some young guy with a doctorate got a high score on the merit evaluation but I failed despite having 40 years experience!", which is a good example of a typical uribista argument. He has the official support of Álvaro Uribe and the CD, and uribistas are defending him. The opposition parties - Petro's people, the Greens and the Polo - strongly oppose him, claiming he would be a 'pocket comptroller' (in the pocket of the government) and perhaps seek revenge (on the former government). The opposition parties will block his candidacy as they can. Facing inconvenient tough questions from the likes of rep. María José Pizarro (Col. Humana), Lafaurie answered 'next question'. He is also opposed by the incumbent comptroller, Edgardo Maya, who, without naming names but with a clear implied target, said that "putting a corrupto to be comptroller is the same as naming a rapist to run a kindergarten" (!). The Liberals, La U and CR are also somewhat suspicious of Lafaurie, because many of them have old run-ins with him and they don't like the idea of giving the Contraloría to the CD, who already have Congress and the presidency.

Carlos Felipe Córdoba: Córdoba, now the favourite, was vice comptroller under Comptroller General Sandra Morelli (2012-2013) and was then elected auditor general in 2015. Córdoba is from Pereira, with his undergrad from the Externado and a masters' from Madrid. He served as secretary of government in Pereira (2006-2007) and Risaralda (2008-2011). Politically, he has ties to both uribismo and Vargas Lleras (CR): he was part of the youth branch of Uribe's campaign in 2002 and supported Zuluaga in 2014, and then he helped Vargas Lleras find signatures for his presidential candidacy in 2017 and served on his campaign team in 2017. Uribistas may be somewhat queasy because he distanced himself from Sandra Morelli and moved closer to former AG Eduardo Montealegre, who is reviled by uribismo. He is married to the daughter of the old Conservative cacique of Caldas, Omar Yepes Alzate. He ranks 3rd on the pondered final ranking (merit + knowledge). Today, following a meeting with Duque, La U and CR (the latter accompanied by Germán Vargas Lleras, who is making his political comeback after the humiliation of May) announced that they would support Córdoba, who had already obtained the unanimous support of César Gaviria's Liberals. Senator Roy Barreras (La U) sang his praises: technical expertise, brilliant resume, academic success, independence and balance. With the backing of the Liberals, La U and CR, Córdoba is only a few votes away from winning and this makes him the runaway favourite. His old proximity to uribismo also makes him acceptable as a second choice to uribistas, and his election would satisfy Duque, who hasn't intervened in this election but has said he doesn't want a 'pocket comptroller' or someone breathing down his neck. Given that Uribe, Pastrana and Gaviria met earlier today, they may have reached a gentlemen's agreement. One question: will the CD abandon Lafaurie and back the new favourite, to avoid the perception that they were defeated in Congress?

Wilson Ruiz: Ruiz is a former magistrate of the disciplinary chamber of the Superior Council of the Judiciary. From the Valle, he is a lawyer (administrative law). He was 'procurador delegado' before the Council of State, appointed by Alejandro Ordóñez in 2009, which has raised questions from the opposition. He ranks 4th on the pondered final ranking, with the highest score (74) on the evaluation of merits. Ruiz received the quasi-unanimous support of the Conservatives, who tried but failed to obtain a 'sign' in Ruiz's favour from Duque this morning. Conservative support on its own would be insufficient to win. His name also found some support among uribistas and CR.

José Andrés O'Meara: O'Meara's main advantage is that he ranks first on the pondered final ranking, but he is at a disadvantage now as he lacks official party support and remains relatively unknown. He is a lawyer and a former classmate of Iván Duque at the Sergio Arboleda University, and is also close to VP Marta Lucía Ramírez. O'Meara's experience includes working as director of political and judicial affairs under Conservative interior minister Carlos Holguín Sardi during Uribe's second term, and he also worked for former comptroller general Julio César Turbay Quintero (2006-2010). Just a month ago, he was part of Duque's transition team. Of Conservative origin, he initially seemed to have Conservative backing and was well received by people close to the new government.

The other names, who don't stand a chance as things stand are: Marco Velilla, former councillor of state close to Alejandro Ordóñez (and one of Uribe's ill-fated nominees for AG in 2009); Alonso Pío Fernández, another Conservative who worked for the Procuraduría under Ordóñez and was caretaker governor of Córdoba in 2008; Gilberto Rondón, a Liberal politician from Boyacá who was representative (2006-2010) and magistrate on the National Electoral Council for the Liberals (2010-2014) and unsuccessful candidate for comptroller in 2014 (at the time he was Cesar Gaviria's candidate); José Joaquín Plata, a career politician from Santander close to Luis Alberto Gil (corrupt ally of the paramilitaries and owner of the trash collector party PIN/Opción Ciudadana); Julio César Cárdenas, who is second on the ranking has experience working in the Contraloría but is little-known; and Maritza Quintero, included to look good as the token woman on the list.
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« Reply #18 on: March 12, 2019, 04:38:56 pm »

Uribismo 2.0 is dead (if it ever existed), Uribismo 1.0 is back!

Also, the peace process is dead.

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Colombia's Duque to return peace legislation to congress

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's President Ivan Duque [Hash note: his real name is Porky] on Sunday said he objected to several items in legislation implementing a peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group and will return the law to congress to be adjusted.

In an address to the nation, Duque, who campaigned for president pledging to alter the 2016 agreement, said for "reasons of inconvenience" the government objected to six of the 159 articles in the so-called Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP).

The JEP law established a tribunal to investigate, judge and sentence those considered responsible for crimes during a five-decade war with the government.

Duque's decision may create problems in the implementation of the agreement that put an end to the FARC's role in a conflict that killed 260,000 people and displaced millions.

The terms of the JEP had been criticized by Duque for being too lenient on rebel commanders accused of committing war crimes.

"Colombians want and we need a peace that unites us and we all must contribute permanently to achieve that goal," Duque said in a televised speech. [Hash add-on: but until we find that let's have war because it's the only way my party wins elections]

"All Colombians, with the exception of those who today are unable to renounce violence and stop their crimes, want peace in our nation. There is no false division between friends and enemies of peace. But we want a peace that genuinely guarantees truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition."

Among objections, Duque said he wants the law to better clarify that the FARC must repay its victims with assets, he called for clarification over terms of extradition for crimes, and wants to toughen rules over sentencing for war crimes. He also objected to an article that suspends investigations by the ordinary judicial system to those who submit to the JEP.

Duque also said he would seek a constitutional reform that would exclude sexual crimes from being taken up in the tribunal, to clarify that repeat offenders lose peace accord benefits and crimes committed after Dec. 1, 2016, would not go to the JEP but would be tried in the ordinary judicial system.

Under the terms of the peace deal between the FARC and the government of former President Juan Manuel Santos, the group formed a political party, kept its famous acronym as the Revolutionary Alternative Common Force, and was awarded five seats in the 108-member Senate and five in the 172-member lower house through to 2026.

The peace accord said that former rebels who submit to the tribunal can receive reduced sentences and avoid prison, but they must confess to any crimes and repay victims.

Duque, a 42-year-old protege of former President Alvaro Uribe, whose hardline offensive [Hash note: also massive war crimes which should send him to the ICC] against the rebels helped push them to the negotiating table, has said he is incensed there would be "criminals" in Congress shaping laws after decades of kidnapping, extortion and killing [Hash note: never ceases to be rich that the guy who governed with congressmen elected with paramilitary support and told them to vote for his agenda "while they are not in jail" complains about criminals in Congress]

Shockingly, this generic article does a pretty sh**t job at explaining what this actually means. The JEP's statutory law was adopted by Congress in the dying hours of the 'fast-track' back in November 2017, but statutory laws must be reviewed by the Constitutional Court prior to being sent for presidential sanctions. The ConCourt's verdict was only handed down in September 2018, and the full text of its decision was only published in December 2018 (Colombia's ConCourt basically announces its verdict by communiqués, but then takes months to actually publish the full text of its ruling). Uribismo disliked many of the ConCourt's changes and modifications to the statutory law -- notably, declaring that sexual crimes against minors as part of the armed conflict remain under the JEP's jurisdiction (a very sensitive issue, but likely a minor one for various reasons) or its decisions on extradition/guarantees of non-extradition.

Any law passed by Congress must be signed (sanctioned) by the President to become law. The President has the right to object (veto) a bill partially or in its entirety, for constitutionality reasons or 'inconvenience' (political reasons). There is, however, no precedent of a president vetoing a statutory law which has already been reviewed and ruled constitutional by the ConCourt, although the Court's own judicial precedent does seem to allow the President to object to a statutory law for reasons of 'inconvenience'. A bill vetoed by the President is sent back to Congress, which considers the President's objections to the text and approves or rejects them by an absolute majority in both houses. As it is a statutory law, the new bill modified by Congress (if modifications are made) would be sent back to the ConCourt for another revision. If Congress rejects some or all of the president's objections, the president has no choice but to sign and promulgate the bill into law (if the president doesn't sign it, the President of the Senate would have to sign it).

Initially, Porky said that he intended to sign the law, until he was pressured by the Attorney General (who sent him a letter asking him to veto the bill on four points) and Álvaro Uribe, who fired up a Twitter storm saying Porky should veto the bill as well. On the other side, many people - the JEP, social organizations/NGOs, legislators, Semana magazine, 'opinion makers', columnists, former politicians etc. - asked Porky to sign the bill without objections. Given the pressure placed on him by his boss (Uribe), his own party and the AG, it appeared increasingly inevitable that Porky would partially veto the statutory law. And so he did, on 6 points:

  • An article on victims' reparation, because it doesn't clearly establish the perpetrator's obligation to provide integral reparations to the victims. The FARC already have a collective responsibility to surrender their goods and assets to compensate victims. Uribismo wants to establish an individual responsibility by ex-combatants to compensate their victims, but the ConCourt has already ruled that the constitutional reform which created the JEP 'extinguished the obligation to compensate for the damages caused by the combatants', and that reparations/compensations is the responsibility of the state.
  • A subsection of an article which limits the ordinary jurisdiction (Fiscalía)'s power to carry out certain actions on cases under the JEP's jurisdiction. The subsection limits the Fiscalía to continuing ongoing investigations and cannot issue sentences, arrest warrants or detain individuals. The Fiscalía continues ongoing investigations until three months before the JEP presents a resolution of conclusions. Porky says that the text doesn't specify the proceedings the Fiscalía must refrain from carrying out and seeks to define more precisely when and under what circumstances investigations against persons subject to the JEP are suspended in the ordinary system. The problem here is that the AG's problem isn't with the text of the bill, but rather with the ConCourt's interpretation of it (banning summons to judicial proceedings).
  • A subsection of an article which gives the JEP, exceptionally, to include the names of FARC ex-combatants who for 'reasons of force majeure' were not included in the list of combatants approved by the High Commissionner for Peace. The ConCourt ruled that a sentence which banned the JEP from incorporating individuals over whom the high commissionner for peace has decided not to accredit as ex-combatants. Porky has vetoed this section because it doesn't determine the scope of the high commissionner's power to verify the list of those who are recognized as members of demobilized armed groups. Again, Porky's problems appears to be with what the ConCourt decided rather than the text.
  • The paragraph of an article which states that in no case the JEP may waive the exercise of criminal action in the case of non-amnistiable crimes. The ConCourt conditioned the phrase 'non-amnistiable crimes' exclusively to "crimes against humanity, genocide or war crimes committed in a systematic manner, which may be attributed to the most responsible individuals". The Court's argument was, in part, that in a context of massive human rights violations during an armed conflict, it is impossible to judge all those responsible and that, to satisfy victims' rights, it is therefore permissible to establish a selection process and conditionally renounce to criminal proceedings for certain non-amnistiable crimes. Porky's objection is that this paragraph could allow waiving criminal action for war crimes etc. for those who aren't senior responsible commanders (máximos responsables). Therefore, once again, uribismo's issue isn't with the literal text but rather with the Court's ruling (and basically with the entire concept of transitional justice...).
  • The article dealing with extradition for crimes occurring after 1 Dec 2016 ('end of the conflict'), under which the JEP must revise the allegations to determine if it occurred before or after the final agreement. Porky's veto is because the text doesn't say, as since determined by the JEP's procedural law, that the JEP is not allowed to request evidence in this revision procedure. Problem here is, once again, that the ConCourt has said that in this procedure, the JEP can collect/request evidence. Uribismo merely wants to JEP to act as a notary in this procedure and check dates without investigating any further.
  • An article providing guarantees of non-extradition to other persons who are offering truth before the Comprehensive System (JEP, truth commission etc.). This includes third parties, public officials, military personnel. Porky's veto is because the text doesn't go into specifics about 'offering truth' and, he argues, produces "perverse incentive for the entry into the JEP of third parties under the guise of alleged offers of truth".

In addition to this, Porky has also announced that he will present a constitutional reform to modify the legislative act which created the JEP. This reform would do three things: (1) The complete exclusion of all sexual crimes against minors from the JEP, (2) whoever reincides in criminal activities (regardless, it appears, of the crime committed) would lose all transitional justice benefits [the ConCourt has determined that the loss of TJ benefits would be proportional to the crime, so that the consequences for the guy who rearms is much more serious than for the guy who steals a loaf of bread] and (3) the exclusion from the JEP of all "crimes of permanent execution" (crimes which began before 1 Dec 2016 but whose effects continued after this date) [the ConCourt ruled that the JEP retains competence over crimes of permanent execution which began before 1 Dec 2016 and which do not constitute new crimes].

The ball is now with Congress, which in the coming weeks will need to consider Porky's objections. They may reject all of them, accept all of them or accept some of them (modifying the bill accordingly). There is no clear majority for either side in Congress on this issue: the government will have the support of the CD, the Christians and the Conservative Party; the opposition is made up of the Greens, Polo, Petro's friends, FARC (although they will probably not be able to vote due to conflicts of interest here) and, if they still have some principles, the Liberals and part of La U. Cambio Radical is widely seen as the deciding vote in this new congressional debate, and thus far it seems as if CR is leaning towards accepting most of Porky's objections - due to CR's traditional proximity to the AG - although a minority wants to reject Porky's changes. But, because this is Colombian politics, nothing will go according to plan. There are already rumours that the Liberal president of the House, Alejandro Carlos Chacón, is considering sending a letter to the ConCourt asking which procedure to follow and if he should ignore Porky's objections because of legal arguments that the president can't object to statutory laws or that Porky's objections in 4 cases go against interpretations/decisions of the ConCourt. On the other hand, there is also the very real risk that if Congress doesn't resolve the issue in due time (and nobody really knows what is the time frame it has to do this) or fails to reach agreement between both houses, then the entire project will die and the government would have to present a new bill (which is probably what uribismo really wants).

Unsurprisingly, there's been massive pushback against Porky's move. The Inspector General, Fernando Carrillo, a supporter of the peace process, has also denounced Porky's partial objections. According to Carrillo, the veto "opens an inopportune and useless political debate and ignores the role of the Constitutional Court" and "generates unnecessary confrontation between public powers and opens up legal uncertainty about compliance with the commitments of the final agreement". He recommends that Congress sends Porky's objections to the ConCourt before studying them to get the Court's opinion. He is completely right: even if one may agree with Porky's arguments, his decision places the JEP is limbo and legal uncertainty, further destroys the legal security of demobilized ex-combatants (and may fuel dissidences and desertions even further) and therefore perversely contributes to the impunity which uribismo is so up in arms about. Porky's objections also against the decisions and interpretations of the ConCourt, and even if he says that he respects the Court and that this isn't a 'choque de trenes' (train collision) between the branches of government, it is exactly that -- and sets the dangerous precedent of the executive (potentially legislative) seeking to change established constitutional jurisprudence they dislike through likely illegal means. Porky and his people have been trying to downplay the very serious and negative consequences of his action ('only 6 articles out of 159', plus his usual bullsh**t about seeking national unity and consensus etc etc), but in doing this he is (a) trying to unilaterally modify a final peace agreement, (b) further destroys an already very fragile and damaged peace process, (c) massively undermines the fragile and nascent work of transitional justice, (d) places a bunch of people - not only FARC ex-combatants - in dangerous legal uncertainty, (e) avoids compliance with decisions of the Constitutional Court, undermining the rule of law and separation of powers and (f) only continues the nefarious polarization over peace in Colombia and fuels the fire of traditional uribismo and their complete and total bullsh**t which has poisoned the well since 2016.

In sum: f you Iván Duque, you far-right scam artist.
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« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2019, 12:24:08 pm »

Last night, for the first time ever (thanks to the new opposition statute - thanks peace agreement and Juanma Santos!), the opposition parties gave a televised response to Porky's speech announcing the JEP objections:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n79OO19OaAA

The 12 minute opposition response (in a somewhat amateurish video) was given by Green rep. Juanita Goebertus, one of the best congresswoman and a recognized expert on transitional justice issues. There was, apparently, consensus among all opposition parties to choose her (and they obviously made the right choice - she's awesome). She was surrounded by members from all 6 opposition parties ('Decentes', MAIS, Colombia Humana, Greens, Polo and FARC), including Antanas Mockus, Jorge Robledo (Polo), María José Pizarro (Decentes), Aída Avella (UP/Decentes), Antonio Sanguino (Greens) and three FARC congressmen. Goebertus' speech was awesome, but again I'm biased.

The Liberals have confirmed that they will oppose Porky's objections to the JEP. The Liberal president of the House, Alejandro Carlos Chacón, has sent a letter to the ConCourt asking if the president has the right to object to a statutory law and if Congress can consider the president's objections. In his letter, he takes up Fernando Carrillo's arguments, as well as the claims that despite Porky's objections being formulated as 'for inconvenience', the arguments used by Porky are of a constitutional/judicial nature (the president cannot object to a statutory law for alleged unconstitutionality). In the meantime, Chacón will still begin the congressional procedure to consider the objections.

The leader of the Partido de la U, Aurelio Iragorri, has said that the party will study and consider Porky's objections but also said that his objections don't 'end the peace agreement', which may or may not signal that the party will support the government here. La U is officially declared as government party, despite an internal dissident minority which is more independent, but is on the whole somewhat unhappy with Porky and supported the peace agreement when it was a government party under Santos. But the Partido de la U has never been a real party with any real principles or ideology...

Another beauty from this government of far-right morons: in a ConCourt audience on the use of glyphosate, the *health minister* apparently said that since we don't really know the health effects of glyphosate on people (false) we should just keep using it.



Well, talk about a coincidence! Yesterday, the ConCourt announced a major ruling on a constitutional challenge against two fundamental articles of the JEP's procedural law (adopted in July 2018), specifically on two articles which uribismo had managed to include at the last moment in exchange for letting the law go through.

First, the ConCourt has struck down part of an article which said that the JEP could not collect evidence in extradition cases. Last summer, uribismo had managed to include the phrase "No podrá practicar pruebas" in the article, the ConCourt has ruled the word 'no' unconstitutional. In addition, in the sentence "[...] will verify that the facts to which the extradition request refers to are subsequent to the signature of the agreement", the ConCourt has changed the word 'verify' for the stronger 'evaluate'. Of course, one of Porky's objections to the statutory law deals with evidence in extradition cases, and one of his arguments for vetoing it was because the procedural law had barred the JEP from collecting evidence -- so, in other words, the ConCourt has said that one of Porky's objections is basically unconstitutional (oops!). Therefore, if Congress accepts Porky's objections on this specific point, they'd be going against established constitutional jurisprudence (and, I think, this is the kind of behaviour that could get congressmen in trouble with the Inspector General, who is already not on Porky's side). On top of that, the ConCourt has also added that, in this 're-conceptualization' of extradition cases stemming from transitional justice, the Supreme Court has an obligation to consider victims' rights and the state's obligation to prosecute serious human rights and IHL violations.

Second, the ConCourt has struck down a very controversial last-minute article included last summer by uribismo which set out to create a special and 'differentiated' procedure for military personnel (part of uribismo's old gripe about the JEP putting FARC 'terrorists' and military on the same level) and, until that was to be created by a constitutional reform, suspended for 18 months the military's cases before the JEP. Not unexpectedly, the ConCourt ruled this article to be unconstitutional for procedural reasons (included at the last minute without going through required debates).

Obviously, the ConCourt's ruling is an implicit answer to Porky's objections to the statutory law and a reiteration of the 'pro-peace' majority (approx. 6 of the 9 magistrates) on the ConCourt, which augurs poorly for the fate of Porky's objections, if approved by Congress, once they come back before the court and for any other uribista attempts to destroy the peace agreement. It is also very much a choque de trenes between the ConCourt and the executive, despite what Porky claims.

(thank you ConCourt, for the umpteenth time, for being the only thing standing in the way of uribismo turning Colombia into some far-right dystopian hellscape)
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« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2019, 01:37:05 pm »

Mockus makes me proud to be part Lithuanian.
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« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2019, 01:59:47 pm »

JEP news:

After initial media reports that it was preparing to rebuke Duque by saying his JEP objections were inviable,  the ConCourt yesterday, with a large majority (8 votes), declared itself incompetent *for now* to pronounce itself on the objections but they will review Congress' decisions on the objections afterwards. So it seems that the 'moderate' option won out - one the one hand, a setback for opponents of Duque but on the other probably a smart move by the ConCourt to avoid setting off yet another political sh**tshow and getting the far-right loons even more riled up. The reports that there was a thin majority on the Court for a 'confrontational' option of ruling against Duque's objections to the statutory law and ordering it to be sent back to him for immediate promulgation had gotten the uribistas (including the Eternal President himself) apoplectic and already, for the 1,675,964th time since 2014, declaring the death of democracy/surrender to narco-terrorism.

They also make clear that Congress only has until the end of the current sessions (June 20) to do this. Still unclear what happens if no agreement is reached in Congress: some claim that the whole bill would die and they'd need to start from scratch (a disaster scenario even more damaging to the peace process/JEP than the objections), others claim that only the six articles vetoed by Duque would die.

Meanwhile, in Congress, the presidents of both houses have named the members of the sub-commissions which will study the JEP objections -- and from the names, it is setting up for a fight between both houses. In the House, Liberal president Chacón (opposed to the objections), has named a sub-commission with only two of seven members favourable to Duque's objections: hardline (and dumbass) Huila CD rep. Álvaro Hernán Prada and Huila Conservative rep. (and FARC victim) Jaime Felipe Lozada Polanco, while all others are opposed to the objections - including, crucially, the CR member (Bogotá rep José Daniel López Jiménez, in a more centrist and vocally pro-peace minority opposed to Duque's peace policies) and the U member (Cauca rep. John Jairo Cárdenas Morán). Green rep. Juanita Goebertus is on the House sub-commission and will probably be a respected expert voice on the matter. Meanwhile, the sub-commission named by Senate president Ernesto 'high school grad' Macías (CD) has 5-7 (out of 9) members favourable to Duque's objections - including high-profile and vocal opponent of the peace agreement uribista senator Paloma Valencia. In this case, the U, CR and even Liberal senators on the sub-commission are pro-government: U senator José David Name (an Atlántico cacique and one of the leading pro-Duque congressman in the U), CR senator (and drunk moron) Antonio Zabaraín (a corrupt old gamonal from Magdalena who went viral last year in a debate where he was most likely heavily intoxicated and began ranting about Fidel Castro and misplaced his glasses) and Liberal senator Julián Bedoya (freshman senator from Antioquia who is one of the few Liberals still close to Duque). The sub-commission also includes ASI senator Jonatan Tamayo Pérez 'Manguito', a random musician and troubadour who is right-wing and pro-government despite being elected on Petro's Lista de la Decencia last year (mostly thanks to his number on the list).

However, the Partido de la U has announced that it opposes Duque's objections to the JEP. The Partido de la U formally declared itself as a 'government party' last year, despite a vocal internal minority (led by senator Roy Barreras) being opposed, but it has often complained (like the Liberals and CR) that they're aren't being treated well by the government. This has led Roy Barreras, who is often a bit too impulsive and should take a Xanax once in a while, to triumphantly announce on Twitter that 'they' had the votes in the Senate plenary to reject the objections: 56 votes to 37, even excluding CR (which hasn't made up its mind yet and remains the deciding vote here). Not sure if he is right, we'll see.
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« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2019, 08:21:39 pm »

Fantastic news from the House of Representatives! Tonight, representatives voted 110 to 44 to reject President Duque's objections (vetoes) to the JEP statutory law. A great victory for peace, democracy, rule of law and separation of powers, and a humiliating (but still partial) defeat for uribismo and Duque.

As I had reported, the decision of the Liberals, La U and especially CR to oppose Duque's objections made it all but impossible for Duque's objections to be approved in the lower house. But the opposition still needed everyone to show up and resist the CD's relentless obstructionism. Tonight, uribismo again rehashed the same old stump speech that it has been using since 2014 to discredit the peace process and transitional justice (and, for some, throwing in Porky's phony nonsense about 'national pacts' or its new 'we are only 6 little articles away from great national unity!' horsecrap) but also showed its true intentions by trying to further delay consideration of the objections (the hope being that Congress isn't able to resolve it in time before June 20, which may kill the entire bill). But the majorities against the objections held and gave a clear outcome. I hope we can get details of individual votes soon, but the 110 votes match up with the sum of the Liberals, La U, CR, Polo, Greens and Decentes/MAIS while the 44 votes don't make the sum of the CD, Conservatives and Christians. Given that (afaik) the Conservatives haven't adopted a caucus position, they were free to vote as they wanted and some Conservative reps. weren't comfortable going along with all 6 of Duque's objections.

Facing increasingly certain defeat, the CD became incoherent - particularly because of rep. Edward Rodríguez (Bogotá), a hardliner obsessed with the peace process. At first, he confused everyone by claiming that the government had withdrawn two of its objections, which isn't the case and was disavowed by his own colleague, Álvaro Hernán Prada (Huila, member of the sub-commission considering the objections) who reiterated that there were 6 objections. Minutes before the final vote, a visibly agitated and angry Edward Rodríguez blamed the justice minister for not doing enough to support the government and called on her to resign (I also think she should resign, because she's obviously incompetent and way out of her league). After the vote, veteran Antioquia rep. Oscar Dario Perez Pineda (CD) angrily reprimanded Rodríguez for saying the justice minister should resign.

Still only a partial defeat because Round 2 in the Senate is not as clear, because uribista Senate president Ernesto Macías is intent on delaying the process for as long as possible and is willing to pull out any shitty excuse out of his ass to do so. There is also the matter that, unlike in the House, the Senate's sub-commission on the objections doesn't have a clear anti-objections majority.

Also, this may also be a (partial) defeat for the United States, because US ambassador Kevin Whitaker controversially had a tense and secret meeting with six of the seven members of the House's sub-commission on the objections last week - and apparently expressed 'serious concerns' about how the JEP statutory law could affect extradition to the US. This fairly nebulous meeting led opposition legislators, like Petro's 2018 running-mate (and now rep.) Ángela María Robledo, to say that "Trump sent the order to approve Duque's objections".

A rare thank you to Colombian representatives, particularly those from the Liberals, CR and La U, for doing something right.



In other news, after 27 days, the government and indigenous protesters (the 'Minga') in the Cauca have reached an agreement and the blockade of the Pan-American highway will be lifted.

In exchange for lifting their blockade of the Pan-American highway, which was costing over $320,000/day in economic losses in SW Colombia and creating fuel and food shortages in the region, the Minga received 'concrete promises' of $257 million in investments from the government (17.5% of their original ask) guaranteed in the PND. In addition, with the blockade lifted, President Duque will be able to visit the region, which had been one of the Minga's demands.

Duque on Twitter said it was a fiscally responsible and achievable agreement, and for good measure threw shots at past governments for making agreements which "exceeded the state's capacity for compliance" and Colombia's fiscal reality (he's not entirely wrong, but 99% chance this will go the same way). While the agreement is objectively good news, if only because it relieves what was a growing humanitarian and socioeconomic crisis in SW Colombia, not everyone shares Duque's opinion. La Silla's weekly columnist Héctor Riveros said that "the event was so poorly managed by the government that it could be used to show what not to do in these cases", and eloquently lists out the government's mismanagement: from not seeing the Minga coming and not doing anything to prevent it before it happened, to poorly handling its response once it began and its dangerous stigmatization of the protesters (as 'terrorists', politically motivated leftists, to its unfounded claims of illegal groups - and even Maduro! - infiltrating the Minga).

But it's not only the usual anti-uribista critics who are against Duque here: so is Álvaro Uribe, and, from a brief scroll through Twitter dot com comments (a very bad idea as always), the furibista far-right lunatics. Uribe tweeted



"Preferable to close the road for 2 years, improve and take care of the alternative one, than to sign agreements with the minga supported by terrorism"

The old man who was friends with the chainsaw-wielding psychopaths who murdered thousands in massacres then tweeted:



"If the serene, firm authority with a social criteria implies a massacre it is because on the other side there is violence and terror rather than protest". Literally justifying paramilitary massacres... even Carlos Castaño was less psychopathic than Uribe.

"Massacre with social criteria" may just be the latest in a long list of uribista euphemisms for its criminal actions after buenos muchachos, falsos positivos or no estaban recogiendo café.

But it's far from being over for Duque: a number of groups - trade unions, teachers, coffee growers, campesinos, coca growers and truck drivers - are preparing for national mobilizations/strikes after Semana Santa, which, given this government's farcical inability to negotiate with people other than very rich North American businessmen (hey, what could go wrong with appointing a government of rich dudes and random technocrats who have never talked to poor people ever?!), could mean that Duque is facing a wave of nationwide protests equivalent to the 2013 paro agrario which nearly destroyed Santos' first term.
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« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2019, 11:05:56 am »

The Senate met yesterday to debate Duque's objections to the JEP, but uribismo successfully filibustered the session and delayed the debate until this afternoon.

After the usual declarations and votes on senators' declared conflicts of interest - which by itself took a lot of time, since uribismo slowed down procedures by raising various legal and procedural questions - the entire session turned into a circus after Senate president and high school graduate Ernesto "el bachiller" Macías (CD) recused Polo senator Iván Cepeda. Macías asked for Cepeda's recusal, ostensibly because his wife works in the JEP although from the poorly written request submitted by Macías it seems as if his main argument was actually "he tweeted about it so he is biased!" (which is rich coming uribismo, given their Twitter addictions). Macías' tactic turned the whole session into a grotesque and exasperating circus (with sh**tty clowns); triggering the easily triggered anti-uribista senators (like Roy Barreras), sparking an endless back and forth 'debate' and mutual recusations (the opposition asked for five CD/Conservative senators' recusal, including Uribe, the CD asked for Roy Barreras' recusal). The opposition was rightfully riled up by the uribista filibuster and desperately tried to actually start the debate on the actual issue, but the session was controlled by Macías (as Senate president) and later by corrupt 'La U' senator Eduardo Pulgar (first vice president of the Senate) and they let the whole thing drag on with no end in sight by allowing everyone to chime in. The uribistas disingenuously claimed that they weren't filibustering anything and they wanted to move on to a vote, but once their crazy-eyed far-right lunatics like María Fernanda Cabal, Carlos Felipe Mejía and Paola Holguín (daughter of Pablo Escobar's friend) started talking they got back to their usual discourse of blaming Santos/the FARC/narco-terrorists and insinuating their opponents are drug traffickers and terrorist sympathizers.

Recusations must be studied by the Senate's ethics commission, which was called for this morning. Once everybody had eaten their free meal (looked tasty!) and it became clear that the session wouldn't be going anywhere, a majority voted to delay further debate on the actual issue (which never even began) until this afternoon (2pm Colombian time), after the ethics commission (hopefully) has made decisions on the seven recusations.

My guess is that uribismo filibustered the debate because they knew that they didn't have the votes and they desperately needed to buy more time. Opponents to the objections are worried about how many (if any) Liberal, CR and U senators might have been 'bought off' during the weekend to support the objections (it certainly wouldn't be the first time). Uribe has been trying to get 'at least' two objections passed, the hottest one being the objection to the article guaranteeing non-extradition to third parties who are offering the truth (claiming that it is a 'narco' loophole that will allow tons of drug lords to escape extradition by sneaking into the JEP), and there may be some support for this objection among the other parties (the Conservatives already announced they support it and two other objections).

However, by delaying the JEP vote further, uribismo and the government are playing a very risky game as they are also delaying votes on Duque's PND, which must be approved by Congress by May 7 (or else the government will only be able to pass its multi-annual investment plan by decree). If I was Duque et al., I'd sacrifice the objections and get the PND approved in a hurry. I think the PND will force Macías to finally allow a vote on the objections today, although given how he single-handedly derailed yesterday's session, it is clear that we cannot trust "el bachiller" for anything.



While Colombian congressmen are behaving as sh**tty clowns, the país nacional is exploding everywhere. On 21 April, demobilized FARC ex-combatant Dimar Torres was extrajudicially assassinated (after, it appears, being abused sexually and mutilated) by the military in the Catatumbo (Norte de Santander).

The Minister of Defence, Guillermo Botero, initially tried to cover up the crime, claiming that there was a 'struggle' as Dimar Torres tried to take the soldier's rifle and the soldier 'accidentally' shot in confusion. However, Botero was later contradicted by the Fiscalía but also by General Diego Luis Villegas (implicated in a presumed 'false positives' case in 2008), commander of the Vulcano Task Force, who recognized that Dimar Torres was extrajudicially assassinated by a member of the military and asked for the local community's forgiveness (and said that he refused to cover up the crime and committed to doing everything he can to bring those responsible to justice). With even the military admitting responsibility, Guillermo Botero struggled to explain his lies, saying that what he said "was the truth at the time" (no, it wasn't, you fat idiot) and then, disgustingly, "if there was a homicide there had to be some motivation" (end yourself, you disgusting waste of oxygen). As if that wasn't enough, Botero later said that General Villegas' forgiveness was "not authorized" and that they weren't concerted with his superiors (and says he could be disciplined). Botero is refusing to resign.

I guess "if there was a homicide there had to be some motivation" is uribismo 2.0's updated version of the old "no fueron a recoger café" (what Uribe said in 2008 about the 'false positives' of Soacha). With "massacre with social criteria" and "if there was a homicide there had to be some motivation", uribismo really seems to be on a roll in coming up with ingenious new euphemisms for war crimes. You've really got to admire their true dedication in crafting new, updated euphemisms for their war crimes.

The opposition (Polo, Greens, MAIS, Decentes, FARC) has tabled a censure motion against defence minister Botero (which could, in theory, remove him from office if adopted, which still appears unlikely). If I was Duque, I'd fire this incompetent moron in a heartbeat (it isn't his first time lying like this).
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