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Issue #1645      July, 2, 2014

Colombian elections

Peace central issue

Forty seven percent of the 32,975,158 Colombians eligible to participate in the elections did so on June 15 in an electoral process in which there was no real choice for the people. The two Presidential candidates represented the big end of town, neoliberalism and war. President Juan Manuel Santos, the candidate of the traditional right was re-elected with 7,816,986 (51.11%) of the ballot.

President Juan Manuel Santos.

Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, the candidate of the extreme right obtained 6,905,001 (45%), he campaigned for a military solution to the armed and social conflict and pledged to end the peace talks. President Santos used the peace talks currently held in Havana, Cuba with the FARC-EP and the preliminary talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) to portray himself as the candidate for peace. The presidential elections were considered by some political analysts as a referendum for peace.

Two round elections

In the first round of the Presidential Elections held on May 25 none of the five candidates obtained the necessary votes to win. The left presented Clara Lopez as their Presidential candidate; she ended in fourth place with almost 2 million votes. Unfortunately, the left was divided for both electoral rounds with one section of the left calling for electors to pass in a blank vote. Another sector of the left gave their support for peace, calling to vote for President Santos.

Many in the electorate refused to support Santos who has been involved in the repression and selective assassination of trade unionists and other political opposition. He also pursues a military solution to the armed and social conflict at the same time peace talks are being held with the insurgency. He has refused to call a bilateral cease fire and aims for the defeat of the insurgency either at the negotiating table or on the ground.

Santos has opened up the economy to transnational corporations hungry for natural resources. His government has also continued the close relations with the United States whose involvement in the internal conflict has been condemned by several sectors both within and outside Colombia.

During the presidential campaign the more than 10,000 political prisoners were kept aside or forgotten in the political discourse. They are direct victims of the armed and social conflict in Colombia and their freedom must be addressed as part of the political solution to the conflict.

Only the broad unity of all Colombians can guarantee Peace with Social justice. The key issue ahead is for the organisation of a popular, progressive and left front capable of putting enough pressure on President Santos through mass mobilisation calling for him to deliver in the best interests of the people during his second term in office.

Some of the immediate demands should be:

  • An urgent general amnesty to free all political prisoners currently held in more than 140 prisons around the country.
  • A bilateral cease fire with the political will to find political solutions to the causes of the more than six decades of armed and social conflict.
  • End to the repression of trade unionists, human rights campaigners and social activists.
  • The election of a National Constituent Assembly that includes all political forces to endorse the peace accords.

The CPA calls on President Santos to govern for the people guaranteeing the democratic space for the political participation of the people free of repression and respect for human rights.

Next article – Slavery in seafood

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