Elections 2022: The fear games in Colombia | Opinion

A protester during the protests against Iván Duque in Cali, on June 17, 2021.
A protester during the protests against Iván Duque in Cali, on June 17, 2021.LUIS ROBAYO (AFP)

In Colombia, fear has been a disastrous voter. For fear that Gustavo Petro would win the elections, -the leftist who scares the the status quo Although he wears Ferragamo shoes, Colombians voted four years ago for an upstart who was Iván Duque, the candidate of former President Álvaro Uribe. The return turned out badly because four years later, discontent with Uribe is much greater than fear of Petro. Now, according to polls, Petro is back in the deck and leads the polls.

Today the fear that weighs the most is the one that Uribismo feels, that great tit that has nursed the Colombian right since 2002.

Uribe and his powerful clique are afraid of being defeated at the polls and of losing power and their privileges. They are not wrong. There are plenty of reasons why they are so scared. After almost 16 years in power, Uribe, the indefatigable former president, the one who resisted everything without affecting his popularity, has run out of Teflon. His disapproval, according to a latest Gallup poll, is nearly 70%. His Democratic Center party, which is neither Central nor Democratic, may lose several seats in congressional elections and Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, the bland presidential candidate handpicked by former President Uribe, does not even take off on his TikTok account.

To this picture is added the discredit of the Government of Iván Duque, his ward. Duque has been an unpopular leader since the start of his administration with chronic disapproval. He was never able to connect with the real country and his interlocutors were always the big businessmen and bankers, whom he generously favored in the pandemic. He did not realize that this abject defense of privilege in a democracy with one of the highest inequality rates in the world was an affront and he continued his feast. His lack of empathy, his waste in the midst of hardship, outraged Colombians and produced a social outbreak that pushed many young people to the streets to ask for changes of faces, language and ideas.

However, we must not underestimate the power of Uribe to stay at the forefront, even if the country wants to wean itself.

Uribism has managed in these years to seize control bodies and put them at the service of its interests like no other political movement in Colombia. That has allowed them to maneuver in their favor cases like the one that former President Álvaro Uribe has in the prosecution for the crime of witness tampering. If they defeat them, they would lose that impunity that has been forged and they would no longer be untouchable. Such a privilege is not going to be taken away in an election.

Uribismo also controls the police and the Army, two institutions that have become the center of its proselytism and that are politicized to the core; It also has the support of the mafia clans in the regions, which are the ones that always define the elections for president because they are the ones who buy the votes.

All this machinery amassed after so many years in power, will be put at the service of their interests to avoid defeat.

Uribismo is not only a political party made in the image and likeness of its undisputed leader, former President Uribe. It is also a way of thinking about Colombia that is increasingly inspired by the populism of Donald Trump and that brings together a powerful right-wing coalition that has been radicalized over time by the hand of corruption and regional mafias that have captured the state with its cliques.

This radicalized right does not want to lose its privileges or control over the centers of power, and it will do everything in its power to prevail in these elections. And because of that, just because of that, these elections can become the most corrupt in the history of Colombia.

You have to wean the country from Uribismo in order to grow. This increasingly stale right has made us more fearful and fearful of changes. They instilled in us the lie that it was good to cultivate fear of change because it prevented populism. However, today Uribism has installed a radical right-wing populism in power that has our weak democracy in check.

This year we must vote conscientiously. We must find new ways to feed our intellect other than hatred, fear, before our critical conscience stops working due to lack of use. Politics cannot continue to be so stupid and so lame.

We, those of us who are not Uribistas and are going to vote for a change, are also afraid. My great fear is that in Colombia this whole year will pass but nothing will change. This is how fear games work in Colombia.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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