[Marxism] Elections ni Colomobia

Anthony Boynton northbogota at yahoo.com
Tue Oct 30 10:49:13 MDT 2007



Elections
in Colombia


 


Last
Saturday elections were held throughout Colombia for Departmental Governors
and legislatures, Mayors, City Councils and other local offices. (National
elections will be held in 2008 for legislative positions, and for president and
legislative positions in 2010.)


 


Outwardly
little changed in these elections, but they consolidated the growth of the Polo
Democratico Alternativa, and revealed the current state of crisis of the
organized political factions of the Colombian ruling class.


 


The
most important news is the election of Samuel Moreno, candidate of the Polo
Democratico Alternativa, as the next Mayor of Bogotá. The Polo is a party which
began as a sort of united electoral front of the parliamentary left. This means
its main components include the unions, the former M-19 guerrilla movement and
ANAPO, the Colombian Communist Party, assorted remnants of Maoism and Trotskyism,
and a trend which split from the social democratic wing of the Liberal Party.


 


With a
population of about 8,000,000 people Bogotá contains nearly 20% of Colombia's
people. 


 


Although
Moreno is known
as a leader of the left wing of the Polo, his election campaign was decidedly
moderate. He is for building a subway, against privatizing public schools, and
for continuing the neighborhood kitchen programs of outgoing mayor Eduardo
(Lucho) Garzon.


 


His
main opponent, former mayor Enrique Peñalosa, was endorsed by all of the
Uribista parties, plus the Liberal Party.  Peñalosa was against building a subway and for
extending the publicly subsidized privately owned mass transit system called
"Transmilenio", for privatizing public education (and anything else)
and silent about the community kitchen program.



(an interesting footnote is that both Moreno and Peñalosa are US citizens. Moreño has a Masters degree from Harvard.)



 


Moreno received more than 900,000
votes or about 44% of the vote. Peñalosa received a little more than 500,000
votes, about 28% of the vote. Turnout was unexpectedly high, despite a day long
downpour which flooded parts of the city. The vote was far more lopsidedly in
favor of Moreno
than any of the polls predicated.


 


Despite
Moreno's
victory, the Polo did not gain control of the city council. Uribista parties
have a majority of one vote on the new council, and the Polo is a minority of
11 out of 37 seats. For the Polo to pass any resolutions it will have to make
deals with the Liberal Party and dissident Uribistas.


 


Making
things more difficult for Moreno
to carry out his modest agenda is the public animosity of President Uribe. Traditionally
the sitting President is barred from campaigning in Colombian elections. Traditionally
the president invites the newly elected Mayor of Bogotá to a meeting the day
after the election. Uribe broke both of these traditions, campaigning for
Peñalosa, and refusing to invite Moreno
to meet. (Uribe did not break these traditions when Lucho Garzon was elected.)


 


Despite
these difficulties for the Polo, it is clear that it has emerged as the
largest, most cohesive, and politically dominant party in the capital of Colombia – a
major feat when one considers the bloodbath against the Union Patriotica just
two decades ago. 


 


However,
the Polo has not yet found a way to emerge as a truly national party. It won
the governorship of one department, where one former M-19 leader, Antonio
Navarro Wolf was elected. Navarro Wolf comes from a traditionally important
family in that department, and was previously Mayor of its most important city.
In the rest of the country the Polo is a small minority party, outpolled by the
two new Uribista Parties – the "Partido de la U" and "Cambio Radical", the
traditional Liberal and Conservative Parties, and the two parties with open
links to the paramilitaries Convergencia Ciudadana and Alas Equipo. (The
results in Cali
are not yet clear, but it appears that the Polo may have suffered a setback in
that city, the only city besides Bogotá where it had established an important
presence.)


 


Outside
of Bogotá the Liberal and Conservative Parties, which seemed to be on the verge
of extinction, made a comeback of sorts, consolidating regional political machines
and control in departments which had been taken over by rival political
machines in the four new Uribista parties. 


 


Also
outside of Bogotá the two principal Uribista parties have been fighting what
comes close to a small scale internal civil war for control of towns in the
northern Para militarized part of Colombia. One of these parties,
"Cambio Radical" is the personal political machine of Senator Vargas
Lleras, heir of former President Vargas Lleras, and wannabe heir of Uribe. The
other is the "Partido de la U"
the personal political machine of the Santos
family which owns the most important newspaper in the country and much of the
rest of the news media. Two Santos
cousins are part of Uribe Velez's government, Vice President and Defense
Minister. Both are also ambitious to be Uribe's political heir.


 


In
towns throughout the north there have been mass protests against voter fraud
directed by one of these parties against the other (which is the offended party
differs from town to town).


 


Tied
to these protests is the fall of some of the political machines of political
leaders now in jail for their ties to paramilitary organizations. Throughout
the north all of the Uribista machines are tied to paramilitaries, given their
internal fight over fraud the character of infighting between paramilitary
groups – possibly for control of drug transportation routes in the region.


 


Also
far outside of Bogotá there was some election related violence, including
attacks attributed to the FARC on towns in Tolima. However, this year's level
of election violence has been lower than at any time in memory, according to
all accounts I have heard and read. 


 


 


 


 


 


 





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