Colombian President Ãlvaro Uribe “had a hellish week,” the Colombian newsmagazine Semana reported last weekend, “and had rarely been seen so upset.”
The magazine, among other Colombian media, was reporting on a change in the country’s congressional leadership last week, which unexpectedly benefited the opposition. This appears to have dashed President Uribe’s hopes to change the country’s constitution to allow him to run for reelection in 2010. The likelihood of the Congress holding a constitutional amendment referendum this fall has plummeted.
According to an excellent analysis in Semana, even the president’s supporters in Colombia’s Congress appear to recognize that the referendum – which was by far Uribe’s easiest path to re-election – is dead.
The proof that the referendum isn’t happening is that there is not a single Uribista in the Congress who privately believe that this dead body can be resuscitated. Until recently this is what only the anti-Uribistas said. Starting last week, this is what even the President’s most loyal defenders are saying.
“With the new congressional leadership, the environment is unfavorable. Now it is not worth the trouble even to propose the referendum issue, we have to focus on seeking an effective successor to the president,” pro-Uribe legislator Roy Barreras told the lasillavacÃa.com website, which published another very helpful analysis of the political moment. Uribe’s own closest advisors, says Semana, “have declared in private that if the Congress is unable to reconcile the referendum bill by the middle of August, the referendum option will have to be discarded.”