Photo: Revista El Congreso

Our Executive Editor and resident cachaco wrote a piece about the Colombian Congress elections from last Sunday. In their view, Colombia is becoming one of those boring democracies where people talk about mundane problems rather than immediate existential risks.

Candidates talked about mining rights, water management, fracking, oil-industry regulation, and even climate change, the same kinds of problems voters face in France, or North Dakota, or Chile, or anywhere else that’s reasonably democratic and peaceful.

The foreign headlines had it exactly backward. This was the first Colombian election in an exceptionally long time not dominated by FARC. For decades, Colombian politics had centered obsessively around the issue of what to do with the Marxist rural army funded by drugs; war and peace were the bread and butter of political debate. In the new political reality, candidates still talk about public safety, but they mean petty crime and street violence, not guerrilla warfare.

Wow, you really gotta give it to the Hermana República: their progress in curbing violence is worthy of admiration, and I only hope we can follow their example someday.

“Kiddo, look. There are countries where a single guy tells everyone what to do. Not here. Here, we all decide. This is called ‘democracy.’

I had the privilege of watching this election personally. A friend took me to the polls, and the process stroke me as “excesivamente normal”. This is how I imagine Venezuela’s 1998 election went down (I was a little kid) — cheerful crowds going to decent voting centers and police officers checking cédulas, as opposed to national guards toting machine guns.

After speaking with Colombians on the ground, though, I would caution against Quico’s optimism. Voters were still unnerved by the looming threat of Marxism — as they should. No more rebel controlled territory? Tell that to the ELN and to my friend who went to Chocó (I haven’t heard from him in weeks). Weak FARC turnout? Yeah, but what about the textbook populist candidate that deflects questions about his Venezuelan role model with talks about climate change?

It does look like Colombians aren’t easily fooled. I heard a dad give a lesson to his bored 6-year-old: “Kiddo, look. There are countries where a single guy tells everyone what to do. Not here. Here, we all decide. This is called ‘democracy.’ That’s why we came here, to vote, to decide what Colombia will be.”

I almost burst into tears.

We at Caracas Chronicles long for days when, like Colombians, we can have elections centered around reforming the healthcare system, the environment and corruption, not defending some bullshit “legacy”, defeating imaginary enemies or deepening the state paternalism.

May we someday join you, hermanos colombianos, in the traditions of “boring” democracies. Cheers to that.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Colombians will probably escape Chavez II because they are generally better educated than Venezuelans. And better informed now that their next door neighbor is in living hell, acting as the worst propaganda against Petro he could ever had. Some think that those who say Petro is a desguised Chavez are right-wing propagandists paid to get votes for the Uribe bourgeoisie. But when hundreds of thousands of starving Venezuelans keep pouring into their country, talking about the disasters of Chavismo, who are they gonna believe? Obviously Colombia is obviously quite under-educated country, a 3rd world mess of sorts, with much poverty, drugs everywhere and crime. Ignorant enough to have Petro right up there in the polls.

    But if Klepto-Narco Cubazuela is good for something these days, it’s to show other nations what not to do. Even in Spain, Podemos was arguably defeated by Kleptozuela’s ugly ghost. Argentina also probably took a good look at us, freaked out, and elected Macri. Chile is too well-educated to have doubts. Hopefully Mexico and Brasil will also be wise enough to avert disaster, thanks in big part to out internationally famous disaster. Finally something to be proud of!

    • Hi Poeta,

      I agree with you and wish to emphasize “…it’s to show other nations what not to do.”

      Chavismo has become radioactive waste leaching to all left wing, redistributing movements of the world. And for Spanish speaking countries it probably poisonous to a mortal level.

    • As a Gringo, what’s scary to me…

      Is that the Chavismo holocaust seems to have had NO affect on American voters, as evidenced by the support Bernie Sanders received. What makes it even scarier is that most of this support came from highly educated liberals!

      Like, we gotta be careful when using the term “uneducated” in a disparaging way about people. Berkeley “educates,” but who the hell is monitoring the merits of that education?

      Common sense is more important, and you can live in a poor pueblo and have more of it than someone living in Beverly Hills.

      “We the people…”

      Three incredibly powerful words.

  2. “Wow, you really gotta give it to the Hermana República: their progress in curbing violence is worthy of admiration..”

    Not so fast. Colombia is far from being out of the woods when it comes to drugs, war and the FARC. And this article seems to be giving credit to the despicable two-faced weasel, Uribe traitor, longtime Chavista supporter called Santos. The same slimy scoundrel that gave Carte Blanche to the terrorist assassins, even 10 free congressional seats. (Reminds me now of UCV/MUD defending the Sebin executioner). That shit will come back to bite them where the sun don’t shine.

    Sure, the FARC have very little support in the Colombian populace, tired of 50 years of war and violence. But such a large, durable movement won’t just disappear into thin air. No matter how much Santos massaged their egos and filled their wallets, they’ll go back to the drug trade wars. Hopefully, once Duke wins, with Uribismo majority in congress, the FARC will realize they don’t are left out again. They’ll miss the power, the riches and the benefits of guerrilla war. Knowing that impunity exists in Colombia, that they literally can get away with murder, they’ll do it again. That’s what happens when crime goes unpunished. That’s what will probably also happen in Klepto-Cubazuela when they start “forgiving” criminal Chavistas by the thousands, and they mutate into MUD, much like Falcon and countless other weasels like Nicmer Evans.

    That will be the legacy of double-face Santos. A funky deal with the devil will explode in Colombia’s face sooner than later. And they’ll be facing the same dilemma for decades to come: deal with the devil, negotiate with the terrorists, or wage war against them? Luckily, Uribismo is coming back strong.

    • “Hopefully, once Duke wins, …”

      Did you mean Duque? I think that March Madness got to you. You have been staring at that bracket way too long.

    • That been a common thing in Latam for years, crooks steal, kill , enslave, etc, a deal is made, crooks leaves to enjoy their loot, the new crooks in charge comes with a new plan to steal, kill and enslave knowing damn well they can get away with it , the rest is rinse and repeat, in fact at least 70% of Chavismo would be enjoying their loots in foreign soil if it wasnt because 1) addicted to unlimited power 2) the ones that cant leave are the one that got more power, if the likes of Diosdado Cabello and Tarek Aissami had the chance of a 100% sure deal that would let them ride into the sunset, Venezuela would be in a transition stage right now

      • Some choose the wrong way all over the world. Whatever the confused “lust for power” is (I cannot fathom the insanity of adopting policies that harm populations just for the sake of having a parade), it is a disease not limited to any nation.

        This is a bit late for the Tillerson topic, but apparently the reason for his replacement is that he misread things in the Middle East, and supported the Palestinian Authority. That conflicted with President Trump. Here’s an excerpt from an article linked to below:

        “So too, last June, in a bid to protect U.S. funding to the PA — despite the fact that fully 7 percent of its donor-funded budget is used to pay salaries to terrorists in Israeli prisons and their families — Tillerson falsely told the Senate Foreign Relations committee that the PA had agreed to end the payments. After the Palestinians themselves denied his statement, he only partially walked it back. The next day, he told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the U.S. was in “active discussions” with the Palestinians regarding halting the payments.”

        The background – one of the clearest pieces about the Muddle of the Middle East – is in this piece http://www.breitbart.com/jerusalem/2018/03/15/caroline-glick-firing-rex-tillerson-removed-obstacle-middle-east-peace/ by Caroline Glick. Her explanation (if I read it correctly) is that Hamas and Fatah are more interested in their own “political power and profile” than in the people they would govern. She uses the example of water management for Gaza. Venezuela is currently under similar waste conditions with public utilities. (Viva El Guaire!)

        I don’t want to sound like “it’s the same all over” (bad all over) – obviously these gross violations of public trust in government are exceptional. I hope that Colombia will continue to extricate itself from its problematic people’s confusions, and get things right.

        • To clarify a bit, Hamas and Fatah each are separate and “warring” political parties that want control of Gaza. They’re more interested in winning the fights between them, than in cleaning up the water supply (obviously critical to the people who live there). That is what Caroline Glick wrote, and she’s an expert in the Middle East. That’s what I meant by gross violations of public trust. I wasn’t referring to Tillerson – he is simply, apparently, convinced that one of those two parties should be in control. Trump apparently is more on Glick’s interpretation, that Hamas and Fatah are more the problem, than the solution. I do not make a big deal out of his possible misrepresentation or incautiously worded statement to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

          Trying to understand anything about Middle East is confusing – maybe it is the warring factions without reason that make it so confusing.

          • reading and citing breitbart explans a lot, that rag is just another shade of extremism where the minority rule but the majority does not want to live.. Venezuela and apporea being one example, the extremism Colombia rejected as shown in this post. So you wearing your racism, xenophobia, etc like a badge of honor? That’ll help Venezuela a lot.

          • Gringo 2 – Jumping to unwarranted conclusions isn’t good policy. Read what you read and see if it measures up to facts and common sense – regardless of who wrote it. And when you reply to someone, try to address what they said, especially if you are going to make parrot-like canned accusations, then point to what was said and not what you imagine was said.

          • ooh the truth stings.. so you didn’t answer which badge are you wearing today? If a post came out seriously referencing aporea, or maduro or diosdado or giordani as an example as policy to change the future of Venezuela they’d be excoriated as a loony or troll. Breitbart is as extremist as aprorea before people started to starve. If you are citing/linking to the site, then you know what bannon said in France last week in support of la pen. So, I don’t believe what I wrote is an unwarranted conclusion.. so wear your badge and expect to be called out.

          • I read the article.

            It further added to my admiration for Trump because it showed how committed to a solution to the conflict he actually IS.

          • @gringo 2

            “reading and citing breitbart explans a lot, ”

            It certainly explains A HECK Of a lot more than your namecalling, caterwauling, and insults without evidence do.

            Whateer you may think of Gringo without the number, he at least put forth his evidence, such as it is, to be evaluated and judged on its’ merits.

            Which, of course, you have MISERABLY FAILED to do, instead incompetently jumping to the Ad Hominem Logical Fallacy train.

            “that rag is just another shade of extremism where the minority rule but the majority does not want to live.. ”

            Firstly, I’m one of those hipsters who hasn’t really loved Breitbart the site since Breitbart the person died. So I’m not some kind of idiosyncratic shill for it, though I suppose my stance that it is about as reliable- and often moreso- than the likes of CNN and other MSM establishments makes it seem like it for you.

            But even I would have to say is: “So?”

            The meme that Breitbart is some kind of masthead for white supremacists is utterly laughable if you’ve ever seen how they will gladly publish works by Jews (like Caroline Glick) and *Freaking Somalis* (Like Ayan Hirsi-Ali) if they want to. I’ve actually studied REAL white supremacist dumps- I still regularly “do the rounds” looking through Marxists.org, Stormfront, and whatever Jihadist websites are popular in order to understand what the enemy thinks, and I actually stood against very real Neo-N&zis looking them over to see if they made a mistake.

            Breitbart isn’t that.

            BUT LET’S COMPLETELY IGNORE THAT!

            Let’s say that Breitbart is indeed exactly as Extremist as you say, MORESO even, that becoming an editor involves getting a Wolfsangel tattooed on your forehead.

            SO. WHAT?

            It would not affect the merits of the analysis offered One Iota. It would not change the political situation in the “Palestinian Territories” one iota. And that’s where you made your mistake.

            “Venezuela and apporea being one example, the extremism Colombia rejected as shown in this post.”

            ARE YOU FARQING MENTAL? THERE IS NO COMPARISON WHAT SO FARQING EVER.

            Heck, there’s no comparison between Apporea and MANY ACTUAL WHITE SUPREMACISTS, like that scumbag Ricky Spencer.

            Apporea and Venezuela are TOTALITARIAN IDEOLOGIES. They are Neo-Communism come again. Their actions when they were out of power was NOT to start up an online journalistic enterprise like Breitbart or to parade around being a racist hack Like Spencer, it was to TRY AND OVERTHROW THE FARQING REPUBLIC, as Chavez’s putsch attempts show.

            This is objectively proven, and very easy to show. So anybody trying to claim they are synonymous merely demonstrates how UTTERLY UNQUALIFIED they are to opine on the matter.

            “So you wearing your racism, xenophobia, etc like a badge of honor? ”

            No, you’re wearing your incompetence, Literal Xenophobia (irrational fear of the unknown, HMM, doesn’t that sound like dismissing and smearing people on a shoddy basis?) like a badge of honor.

            And then projecting it onto others.

            “That’ll help Venezuela a lot.”

            It’ll certainyl help Venzeula a lot more than this sordid preformance by you will.

            And doesn’t that Sting?

            “ooh the truth stings.. ”

            Except it has to be truth in order to sting.

            And even if I were dumb enough to pretend it was the truth, it certainly isn’t likely to sting when it’s put forward as incompetently as you have done.

            Debate is not merely a matter of finding the truth, that was something Socrates (or at minimum Plato) understood. It’s also about knowing how one HAS found the truth. And that is a test you have miserably failed. By trying to dismiss the arguments and evidence with an ad hominem rather than confront their merits (or lack thereof) and debunk them, you have all but raised the white flag and indicated you Can’t. Or at least are not suited in the least to do so.

            Because you can’t refute the matter at hand, those claims Stand. None of your shill screeching affects it one iota.

            “so you didn’t answer which badge are you wearing today?”

            What badge you wear to a debate is less relevant for judging it than the arguments one puts forward.

            “If a post came out seriously referencing aporea,-”

            A: But it didn’t, because no matter how hard you try Breitbart IS NOT comparable to those. As you would know if you had any actual familiarity with the matters at hand.

            B: if a post came out seriously referencing Aporea, then the way to gut its’ arguments and refute it would remain the same. FOCUS ON THE CLAIMS IT MAKES AND DEMOLISH THEM. Full Stop.

            In other words, the exact inverse of screeching like a moron that “LOOK, THAT CAME FROM THE BAD SITE!” No, arguments aren’t invalid because they come from bad sites. Bad sites are bad sites because the claims they make ARE INVALID AND WRONG, and they can be proven as such.

            and finally…

            C: I note you pointedly ignore the many, MANY posts on CC that seriously cite Maduro etc. al. and the claims they make. Mostly in order to iron out the claims they are making so they can be thoroughly fisked by reality.

            Thus making your posturing both incompetent and self defeating.

            Try and rent some situational awareness, why don’t you?

            “Breitbart is as extremist as aprorea before people started to starve.”

            No, it’s not, You Stupid Troll.

            How do I know?

            Because the ideological godfathers of Ap weren’t merely writing about politics, they were trying to HIJACK it, including by coup. Something that cannot be said of Breitbart’s authors.

            And “before people started to startve?” How adorable! So apparently we’re supposed to assume things only got REALLY bad when reality fully collided with ideology?

            Aporrea’s ideology was always more radical than Breitbart, not just because it is and was totalitarian, not just because its idols tried to overthrow the Venezuelan republic, but because the people starving were ALWAYS A LOGICAL EXTENSION OF ITS’ IDEOLOGY.

            PERIOD. FULL STOP. DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT BOLIVARS, GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL!

            And this is what illiterate hacks like you don’t seem to get.

            “If you are citing/linking to the site, then you know what bannon said in France last week in support of la pen.”

            Unfortunately.

            And that is another reason why I have come to dislike Breitbart the site. Though not as much as I have come to dislike CNN, let alone outright bilge like Xinhua, Aporrea, and Al Jazeera. Precisely because it has been too lovely dovey and single issue with the likes of Orban and the Le Pens.

            But what’s even more pitiful is that as time has gone on, even I have had to defend the likes of the Le Pens, at least in small points of order. For instance, the meme that Marine Le Pen was a Holocaust Denier because she rejected the culpability of the Legitimate French State with the Holocaust.

            The problem is, this isn’t new. It has been dogma among all French governments and most political parties since WWII that the Vichy regime that helped oversee the Holocaust on French soil WAS NOT the legitimate government of France, going all the way back to Chas de Gaulle himself! And as a student of history and French histographyI know this quite well. And you’re welcome to take issue with that claim- I SURE AS HECK DO in light of the major instittional support Vichy had. But the fact is, this isn’t some kind of extremist stance that only exists in the Front National.

            So spending decades claiming one thing, and then ruthlessly villifying the Le Pens for saying THE EXACT SAME THING is nothing short of indefensible hypocrisy.

            I don’t like Bannon and I don’t trust him, but if you think merely asserting that is enough you’re sadly mistaken.

            “So, I don’t believe what I wrote is an unwarranted conclusion..”

            I’m sorry, since when are we supposed to treat what you BELIEVE seriously?

            Beliefs are weak, brittle, and subjective. Facts are not.

            So come up with Facts, or be insulted.

            “so wear your badge and expect to be called out.”

            Yeah, except you’re not able to call them out effectively. As this sordid thing shows.

            At NO POINT WHATOSEVER did you actually give the SLIGHTEST indication that what Gringo 1 quoted was wrong. In the slightest. THe most you could claim was THAT IS FROM A DIRTY SITE!

            All while engaging in ludicrous, self-defeating, and obvious hyperbole trying to tie a totalitarian website to one run by people Whose Social Politics You Don’t Like.

            The problem is, even if you were Right, that wouldn’t be enough to refute the claims it makes.

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