Say what you mean, and mean what you say Corporal Moncayo is free
Mar 272010
El Tiempo’s website has very detailed results of the Datexco presidential-election poll in a PowerPoint file.
  • If all goes according to plan, Brazilian helicopters will pick up two soldiers who have been held by the FARC for years. The guerrillas are releasing Josué Daniel Calvo Marín on Sunday and Pablo Emilio Moncayo. Moncayo, whose father has become famous in Colombia for his campaign to free him, has been a FARC hostage since late 1997. He was 18 when the guerrillas took him after a battle in Patascoy, Putumayo; he is 30 now.
  • The head of Colombia’s armed forces, Gen. Freddy Padilla, told reporters that according to “high-quality intelligence,” the FARC are planning a campaign of high-profile attacks between now and the May 30 presidential election. This week saw several FARC attacks in southwestern Colombia: Cauca, Huila, a car bombing in downtown Buenaventura believed to be the work of the FARC, and a package bomb unwittingly delivered by a 12-year-old boy in Nariño.
  • Meanwhile violence attributed to “emerging” paramilitary groups escalated in the northwestern department of Córdoba. Seven people, among them three teenagers, were massacred in a bar in Puerto Libertador. Radio journalist Clodomiro Castillo, a critic of politicians tied to paramilitary groups, was gunned down on the front porch of his house in Montería.
  • The two pro-Uribe candidates lead the polling for the May 30 elections.
    • Gallup March 20-22: Juan Manuel Santos 34.2%; Noemí Sanín 23.3%; Antanas Mockus 10.4%; Gustavo Petro 6.4%; Germán Vargas Lleras 6.2%; Sergio Fajardo 6.1%; Rafael Pardo 5.1%
    • Datexco March 20-23: Juan Manuel Santos 34.1%; Noemí Sanín 21.7%; Antanas Mockus 8.9%; Gustavo Petro 7.1%; Germán Vargas Lleras 6.6%; Rafael Pardo 5.5%; Sergio Fajardo 4.4%
    • Both polls were taken before the first televised presidential debate, which took place the evening of March 23.
  • In Venezuela, you can now be arrested for offending the president, as Guillermo Zuloaga, the owner of opposition-oriented television network Globovisión, found this week. Zuloaga was arrested (and later released pending trial) for comments he made at the Inter-American Press Association mid-year meeting a week earlier. The arrest came days after the detention of opposition politician Oswaldo Álvarez Paz, a former governor of the western state of Zulia, for comments he made on Globovisión alleging that President Hugo Chávez’s government is aiding narcotraffickers and guerrillas.
  • A week after Cuban police roughly dispersed a protest by the Ladies in White dissident group, tens of thousands gathered in Miami for a demonstration led by musician Gloria Estefan. President Obama released a strong statement about the human rights situation in Cuba.
  • The president of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes of the FMLN party, apologized on behalf of the Salvadoran state for the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was killed by an assassin linked to pro-government death squads 30 years ago March 24.
  • Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton headed a delegation to Mexico March 23 that included the secretaries of defense and homeland security, among other officials. The “Mérida High-Level Consultative Group” meeting made official some changes to the framework that has guided about $1.4 billion in U.S. aid to Mexico since 2008. From now on, the “Mérida Initiative” will be far less military in nature, reports Shannon O’Neil of the Council on Foreign Relations: “most of the requested $330 million for the program’s 2011 budget will be targeted to Mexico’s judicial reforms and programs on good governance.”
  • “Mexico is only one part, though probably the most important one, of a theater of operations that stretches from the Venezuelan-Cuban-Iranian alliance and the Andean Ridge, through Columbia and the FARC, up the cartel-controlled drug routes through Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico, and into the United States,” writes Col. Bob Killebrew of the influential Center for a New American Security, on the Foreign Policy blog of former Washington Post reporter Tom Ricks. “The Venezuelan alliance is almost a classic geopolitical attempt to deny the US access to Latin America — probably including Mexico — and to gain access to our southern border.”
  • José Miguel Insulza was reelected to a second five-year term as secretary-general of the Organization of American States. He faced no opponent.

11 Responses to “Friday links (Saturday edition)”

  1. lfm Says:

    Horrific poll results, but they’re pretty much as I expected. Dim silver lining: Petro is beating the Liberal Party! That’s something I didn’t expect. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Santos is a shoo-in for President. What I still can’t get used to is to having Noemi again as a front-runner. I’ve always had nothing but disdain for her. She’s been the perennial “neither-here-nor-there” candidate that never proposes anything and just oozes “touchy-feely” talk. Not to mention that she always runs, criticizes her opponent and then, after election, immediately makes up with the winner so that she can go back to here embassy. I thought that we didn’t have to think about her anymore, but now she’s getting a second lease in life, and this time as the “lesser evil”!! I can readily imagine people “resigning themselves” to vote for her… I hope I don’t lose many friends over this.

  2. Steven Taylor Says:

    Of course, the PDA beat the PL in the 2006 elections, so I suppose that Petro polling slightly better than Pardo is not that big a surprise. Still, the fortunes of the PL are a remarkable turn of events (as is the re-invigoration of the PC).

    I concur that Santos is the clear favorite. Indeed, I have a hard time seeing a scenario (barring something truly dramatic) in which he loses.

  3. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Presidential Polling (Colombia) Says:

    [...] h/t:  Plan Colombia and Beyond. [...]

  4. Alvaro Hurtado Says:

    LFM, I’m also rather disappointed by Noemí’s apparent popularity and I definitely cringe at the prospect of her being elected as the “lesser evil” during the second round of voting. She did nothing to impress me during the debate (quite the opposite) and everyone here should know the basics of her inconsistent political record. Not to mention that her role during the Palace of Justice siege also speaks for itself.

    It’s incredibly ironic, in addition, to see the Conservatives demanding that their militants vote for her or else, when most of Noemí’s political career has been a paradigm of disloyalty and indiscipline. She wouldn’t have won against Arias without the support of thousands of non-Conservatives, myself not included since I didn’t vote for either of them, and yet now she’s all about party discipline.

    Leaving all that aside, I’d love to see Mockus do well, but with such a fragmented electorate and with so many candidates I can’t be very optimistic about his chances. Still, one can hope.

  5. lfm Says:

    Steven: You’re right that the Polo-PL ranking is a repeat of 2006. But that is the remarkable thing. 2006 was a year of meltdown for the Liberal Party and you would have thought that they were getting their act together after that. Clearly they haven’t. The stubborn fact is that Pardo is an appalling candidate. Don’t get me wrong, I think he is a smart, studious and decent politician. Not my cup of tea, I’m waaay to his left, but I think he would make an OK president (especially compared to what we have) But as a candidate he’s a real snoozer.

    Antanas? Oh my, I’m supposed to be the exact “target audience” of Antanas (member of the “independent academic left”) but he never ceases to disappoint. The country needs clear agendas and proposals and he’s always evading tough decisions while wrapping himself in hermeneutic-post-modern-semio-bullshit. Granted, if he emerges as the “lesser evil” then I will vote for him, which is more than I’d say for Noemi.

    Bottom line: how I miss Carlos Gaviria! Warts and all, when the Polo turned against him, it blew its only chance of altering the course of events. Could it be true what I heard that Petro won the primaries, most likely without any knowledge or guilt on his part, with a suspicious amount of votes in the Atlantic Coast, a.k.a “Para-land”? If you’ve heard the same rumors, let me know.

  6. Steven Taylor Says:

    lfm: I concur, it is a remarkable thing. I will even say that I thought that after the disaster that was the three-time loser Serpa that the PL would get its act together and nominate a serious contender. However, the numbers clearly show that Pardo is no contender. And you’re right, I saw Pardo in person twice when I was in Bogotá earlier this month, and “snoozer” is an apt description—certainly the energy and charisma level was low, shall we say.

    Part of Mockus’ problem, it seems to me, is the inability to try and build a political network outside of Bogotá.

    The Polo seems to be repeating the errors of the AD/M-19, such as allowing internal squabbles to derail the entire project.

  7. lfm Says:

    Steven: A few months ago I would have whole-heartedly agree with your diagnosis about the Polo. But now they seem to be doing the unthinkable: sticking together. The electoral results were not the kind of unmitigated disaster that sends everybody running for the exits. They still fight, they still dislike each other, some of them are clearly a liability to any party, but hey, it happens everywhere. Could it be that they are learning the lessons of the 90s (and the 80s, and the 70s, and the 60s and…)? Will this time the left maintain a cohesive party organization? Will Charly Brown kick that damn football?

  8. Alvaro Hurtado Says:

    LFM, Mockus is guilty of being a bit too confusing at times and his answers aren’t always the best, but one thing that is completely clear about his candidacy is the fact he’s promoting the concept of a currently lacking “democratic legality” vs. the default paradigm of “democratic security” which, needless to say, Noemi herself can’t help but parrot in such an unconvincing way that I’d unquestionably vote for Santos over her if I ever happened to be an uribista.

    As for the Polo, Carlos Gaviria was a magnificent candidate with unique qualities, to be sure, but after his historical 2006 showing he wasn’t as politically visible as I had originally expected him to be. Petro, whether you love or hate him, was more active on the political scene and I don’t think he needed -much less wanted- any presumably paramilitary-linked votes in order to come out ahead.

  9. lfm Says:

    Alvaro: Just to be clear, although I think you already interpreted me correctly, I would never suggest that Petro knowingly had an alliance with the Paras. I’m just saying that maybe they stepped into the Polo’s primaries. Maybe my sources are wrong but it gives me the chance to vent on an old gripe of mine: we have a stupid, screwed-up primary system, legacy from a stupid, screwed-up fad of the 90s. The “anti-politics” drive of the time led to this notion that parties should not be run by politicians but instead should be forced to make their decisions “in the open.” So now Colombia’s parties are expected to hold primaries that allow all kinds of “tourist votes” because God forbid that a party tries to put together something coherent to present to the public.

    This is not democratic, as much as it may look like it. Parties should be able to put their stuff out without interference from the rest. Open primaries, and in different dates, for crying out loud, are just a moronic way of selecting presidential candidates. Such idiocy covers the entire ideological spectrum, from the Polo to the Conservative Party.

  10. Camilla Says:

    ///Indeed, I have a hard time seeing a scenario (barring something truly dramatic) in which he loses.///

    Try assassination. Not unheard of in Colombia. Aside from the customary bad actors, there’s a thug next door who wouldn’t hesitate.

  11. lfm Says:

    Right now I’m having enough time in my hands to have some fun. Of course, I hope that nobody gets killed in this presidential campaign. But this may not be a bad time to bring up the fact that, for anyone remotely familiar with Colombian history, when presidential candidates get assassinated, they tend to be from the opposition. OK, back to work.

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