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Santos announces re-election bid, with the help from Farc and the peace process

Thursday, November 21st 2013 - 14:55 UTC
Full article 2 comments
When you see the light at the end of the tunnel, you do not turn around and run the other way,” the president said When you see the light at the end of the tunnel, you do not turn around and run the other way,” the president said

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced he would seek a second term in office next May, a widely expected decision that could offer him another four years to pursue a peace process he initiated with Marxist FARC rebels.“I want a Colombia that is at peace and prosperous for all,” Santos said in an address to the nation.

 “When you see the light at the end of the tunnel, you do not turn around and run the other way,” the president said. “I am convinced that we have before us a great chance to achieve a Colombia that is at peace,” he said. “And my duty as president ... is not to allow everything that we have achieved in the peace process to be lost.”

Santos, 62, a Harvard-educated journalist and son of one of Colombia's most influential families, will take on opposition candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga in a campaign likely to focus on how peace with the rebels would transform Colombian society after five decades of war.

Neither candidate is likely to upset investors as both are former finance ministers and seen as market friendly. Economic growth has slowed in the last year on the back of weak overseas demand for local industrial goods but output is expected to pick up in the coming months, and provide a boost to Santos.

Still, Zuluaga, a one-time senator and provincial mayor, charges that FARC negotiations have damaged the 360 billion dollars economy. He accuses Santos of offering the rebels too many concessions and pushing talks so as to enter the history books.

Santos began negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) a year ago. The talks are set to resume November 28, after a 10-day postponement.

The talks had been scheduled to resume Monday to take on the third agenda item, illegal drug trafficking, which the FARC is alleged to have abetted to finance their operations.

So far the negotiations have resolved two of the five key points on the agenda and the two sides must also still resolve questions on compensation for victims and on disarmament.

The half-century old guerrilla war -- Latin America's longest-running insurgency -- has left hundreds of thousands of dead and displaced more than 4.5 million people.

Santos won the presidency with the support of his predecessor Alvaro Uribe. Now, Uribe has become one of his staunchest critics, and opponent of the peace talks.

Santos's current term ends August 7, 2014. The first round of the presidential vote is in May 2014.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

Top Comments

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  • ChrisR

    Seems the only option to this observer.

    Nov 21st, 2013 - 07:09 pm 0
  • Anglotino

    The difference between Santos and Zuluaga is extremely small when it comes to economic management. Which will give everyone stability no matter who wins.

    However, while Uribe used the stick and bashed the crap out of FARC, Santos has done less so by negotiating. The stick has been used for 50 years and negotiating is rarely used because the FARC always use it to their advantage.

    With a recent uptick in violence, Santos is not that popular. But then again, such an increase could be seen as a desperate last minute spasm by criminals as they too see the writing on the wall; that the FARC and their associates are about to be assigned to the dustbin of history.

    FARC have an incentive to wind up and finish the negotiations before the election, because Zuluaga will pretty much walk away from them. So the next 6 months will either be very busy and successful or a sheer waste of time.

    I wonder who will be the president when I arrive in Colombia next November?

    Nov 21st, 2013 - 10:58 pm 0
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