There are four months until the presidential elections in Colombia and the promising center that months ago had been presented as the option for a smooth change, still does not raise its head. None of his candidates takes off in the polls and it is still not even known what the nature of his speech or his mood is. Despite the fact that several of the most progressive politicians in the country converge there, such as Sergio Fajardo, Humberto de la Calle, Alejandro Gaviria or Ingrid Betancur, their coalition, baptized as Centro Esperanza, does not arouse enthusiasm but boredom.
They say they are looking for a change in politics, but they are afraid of that word. When they pronounce it, they unnecessarily add heavy conditioning factors, as if the change were a controlled act done so as not to scare big capital and not a tool that democracy gives us to reduce poverty and inequality. Alejandro Gaviria is right when he says that changes must be made responsibly and smoothly. That’s fine. But what changes are we talking about? Can they tell us?
They have also said that they are a coalition, but many of their members act as divas of progressive politics. Senators like Jorge Enrique Robledo made their political capital by making courageous debates against the Uribe government. Others such as Humberto de La Calle and Juan Fernando Cristo took a risk to defend the peace agreement to prevent Uribism from destroying it. However, when it comes to considering themselves as an alternative to power, it has been difficult for them to put their egos first to build a coalition in which everyone pulls for the same side. They have invested a lot of their time in the electoral mechanics but not in putting meat to that change without shocks that they talk so much about and do not define.
Their great difficulty lies in the fact that they have not been able to construct a narrative that removes them from the common places in which they have moved so comfortably up to now. And they have how to do it. Sergio Fajardo, the most optioned candidate of that coalition, is today the target of a practice that is becoming more and more normal within the corrupt politics of power: that of using control bodies to end the opposition’s political opponents. The modus operandi It is simple but accurate: processes stuck with slime are mounted on them with the purpose of discrediting them and getting them out of the loop. This politicization of justice, which has Fajardo in its sights, is one of the most disastrous legacies left by the Duque government.
Today the president has control over the attorney general’s office, the prosecutor’s office, the comptroller’s office, and the registry, the entity in charge of holding the elections. Such a context would have served for the Coalition of Hope to have made this dangerous accumulation of power a campaign proposal to change what has to change. The bad news is that this serious reality has only caused the lonely indignation of Sergio Fajardo. Stop counting.
His thesis that the great problem of politics in Colombia is that it is hijacked by two extremes, that is, by Uribe’s right and Gustavo Petro’s left, it is not sustainable either. You cannot put on the same level a right that has been in power for 20 years, that puts and removes presidents, that allowed itself the luxury of pummeling its opponents and that was able to create a very powerful narrative for so many years. with a movement of a leftist candidate trying to come to power. It’s like comparing Thelonious Monk to a beginner or Maradona to a third tier player.
Colombian politics in recent years has been dominated by concepts such as the state of opinion, by macabre inventions such as “massacres with a social sense”, and by arbitrary and unjust theses that classify all supporters of the agreement as Castro-Chavistas and terrorists. of peace. That is why it is wrong to speak of polarization between extremes when what has existed until now is a total dominance of the Uribe discourse.
The dogma of former President Uribe has entered a decline after 20 years of power and today his image is falling into a tailspin in the polls. However, this good news does not open the door to polarization but to debate, if you will, pugnacious and direct, between different political views. And it is precisely in this context that it is surprising to see a hope center so soulless.
The thesis of showing themselves as the best option to prevent the country from falling into extremes has not served them either. The fear of polarization says nothing to the vast majority of Colombians who are concerned about their pockets. Colombians who lost their jobs during the pandemic are not concerned about polarization but about the lack of jobs and opportunities. The young people of Cali who came out to protest in the past months did not do so because they were afraid of polarization but because they did not find opportunities to progress and because they want a change. The outraged in Colombia can no longer bear the indolence of power and in that order of priorities, the fear of polarization does not give a damn.
Colombia’s problem is not in how to get out of polarization, but in how the opposition forces are going to build a narrative that will allow them to win the next elections and end so many years of Uribism. That is the real challenge facing Colombian democracy. And again, in that area of what is truly important, the center of the progressives appears very, very blurred.
So lost are they that they have not realized what is running up their leg. It happens that Petrism and the Uribe right are closing in on them. Both of them know that whoever conquers the voters of the center will be the next president and they are disputing their territory. But of course, while Petro conquers everything that is in the center and the same Uribe, the divas and the divos of the progressive center, do not pinch each other. Such is the height of his boredom.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.