Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos recently told WLRN that his government’s peace talks with Marxist guerrillas were “at their most difficult moment.” After a kidnapping last weekend, we now know what Santos was talking about.
“The problem with Colombia is that we’ve been fighting a war for three generations and we simply got accustomed to it. What I’m trying to tell the Colombian people is, ‘Wake up. We have to be a normal country.’”
That was the opening volley from Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during a wide-ranging and unusually frank interview last week in New York. But there’s one slice of our conversation you won’t hear on WLRN.
This week’s Colombian voter poll had to feel like a back-handed compliment for President Juan Manuel Santos.
The new survey by the Bogotá research firm Ipsos-Napoleón Franco shows Santos with a 17-point lead over his closest competitor in his bid to win re-election in May. But Santos garners just 25 percent of the vote. Half of those polled said they were undecided or intend to cast a blank protest ballot. That’s hardly cause for cumbia dancing at the Casa de Nariño presidential palace.
When I interviewed Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos last year in Bogotá, he crowed about foreign investment pouring into his country. A nation considered a failed, civil war-torn narco-state less than a decade ago was now one of South America’s hottest money magnets, doubling its take from the previous year.
“This is completely out of anyone’s imagination,” Santos said.