* The video that accompanies this Analysis was recorded during the visit of Iván Duque to FAES in January 2018
José Herrera is the International Director of FAES
The Colombians have chosen Iván Duque and Marta Lucía Ramírez as their next president and vice president. It is a great news for Colombia and Latin America, and a terrible one for radical populism that saw in Gustavo Petro a powerful ally when reinforcing the anti-liberal alliance of "socialism of the 21st century". Iván Duque has won thanks to the support of more than 10 million Colombians who have distrusted the populist proposals of the leftist candidate, but above all have seen with hope and hope the possibility of resuming the policies of security, justice and institutional strengthening responsible of the great advance of Colombia at the beginning of the 21st century, during the presidencies of Andrés Pastrana and Álvaro Uribe.
The election also meant a new plebiscite on the management of the outgoing president, Juan Manuel Santos, fundamentally regarding the controversial "peace process". And just as they did in the referendum held in October 2016, the polls have given a clear verdict. Colombians have clearly expressed that peace is not built through political correctness and shady deals with terrorist gangs, but through democratic strengthening and the firmness of the rule of law in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and corruption.
The presidency of Santos leaves a heavy legacy to the new administration. In the first place, due to the burden of the agreements between his government and the terrorist groups, achieved despite the rejection of the majority of Colombians. Some of the issues to be addressed by the government that takes office on August 7 are reconsidering the unpunished presence of terrorists in the institutions; give the victims the justice and recognition they deserve; review the lack of legitimacy of the so-called "transitional justice" -de facto, a parallel justice, and firmly fight a drug trafficking that has taken advantage of the weakness of the Santos government to multiply by four the production of coca leaf to reach record figures , not seen since the 90s, before the entry into operation of Plan Colombia. The security, justice and peace agenda will therefore be the priority of the new government, with announced changes to the agreement with the FARC, new conditions for negotiations with the ELN, and restarting aerial fumigations of coca crops.
If it succeeds in its objectives, it is unquestionable that Colombia will attract the attention of investors, another priority to create new jobs and redirect the poor economic performance of recent years. To reinforce this message, Duque has also announced possible tax reductions for companies, a significant reduction in public spending and a strong fight against tax and capital evasion. In addition, it has announced its support for the anti-corruption consultation promoted by its opponents, scheduled for next August 26.
In any case, it is necessary to pay attention to the 8 million votes obtained by the candidacy of Gustavo Petro. Although not all those votes come from the extreme left, it was enough to listen to Petro's radical speech yesterday, accusing his defeat of the "corrupt machineries" and the "lies of the right", to understand that the country is today much more polarized that four years ago, and that the strategy of dismantling liberal democracy was in the brain and in the backbone of the losing coalition.
The support received by the Colombian left in this election goes to show that the old Forum of Sao Paulo, which helped to whitewash the image of communism after its failure at the global level by masking it under the formula of "socialism of the 21st century", continues alive. Despite the collapse of its main drivers, the dictatorships of Cuba and Venezuela, the Latin American extreme left tries to take momentum election after election. Gustavo Petro's agenda was not very different from that of the potential winner of the elections in Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to that of a Lula da Silva who can be freed from his corruption charges to stand for re-election, or that of autocrats like Daniel Ortega or Evo Morales, who have made their electoral triumphs the lever arm to try to dismantle from within the democracy of their countries. Hence the importance, for all, of the magnificent triumph of Iván Duque and Marta Lucía Ramírez in Colombia, a country that by size, possibilities and geographical situation is key to decanting towards one side or the other the battle for democracy, the law and the Rule of Law in Latin America.
Translated by Nerea Eiroa