By Aurelio Suárez Montoya, SEMANA, March 13, 2021


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

By means of fiscal gimmicks, Carrasquilla and Duque are trying to mitigate the panic about the possibility of losing Colombia’s investment grade in its credit rating. Colombia, at the edge of the abyss.

Álvaro Uribe’s legal problems aren’t going to stop, since, with the preclusion of his case, proposed by prosecutor Jaimes, there will be more lawsuits and appeals, with a trial not yet ruled out. At the same time, Mancuso’s testimony to the Truth Commission, at the behest of Rodrigo Londoño, could present compromising information about the massacre at El Aro in October of 1997, and about the killing of Attorney Jesús María Valle, declared to be a crime against humanity, and under investigation by the Superior Tribunal in Medellín since February of 2019.

However, Uribe has bigger political difficulties than those eventual criminal headaches: The curtain has fallen on the tale of the “three little eggs” because its components, democratic security, to be understood as “you can go back to your weekend home in the country”, social cohesion, and investor confidence, hardly any of that is left in the Duque government. I had no idea that they would turn “the three little eggs” into an omelette during the “whatever he said” administration!

According to Cerac (Conflict Analysis Resource Center), “The deaths by political violence increased” when they went from 139 in 2019 to 189 in 2020, 328 in two years. And also in 2020 there was a significant increase “in the killings of civilian non-combatants, 21, which quadrupled since 2019, because of the ELN”, with “approximately 4,000 combatants, an unknown number of militiamen” and seven battle fronts (InSight Crime, 2020). El Tiempo reported that the Clan del Golfo is active in 124 municipalities with 3,260 units, and Indepaz reported (August 2020) that in 2019 there had been 261, with high intensity activity of narco-paramilitary groups and 91 of the dissidents and post-FARC groups, with 3,400 members. Verdadabierta, which uses the UN criteria, counted 167 massacres between August of 2018 and March of 2021, with 644 victims. And the violent deaths of 188 signers of the Peace, 70 percent of all of the demobilized guerrillas, have been murdered.

In the first two years of the Duque administration, the NGO Somos Defensores (We are Defenders) counted 317 leaders murdered; the Mayor of Cartagena del Chairá, as in the past, had to leave town, and in 2021 there were 11,150 displaced people in Colombia (Semana, March 8). Duque has cast aspersions on the Peace Agreement and, paradoxically, he tore the legend of Democratic Security to shreds. It’s so bad that 90 per cent of the population in the provincial capitals perceive that Colombia’s security has gotten worse, something that he has tried to blame on the mayors of the cities (Invamer, February 2021). Chaos.

Don’t even talk about social cohesion. The Social Pulse Survey (Dane[1]-2021) is a blow to Duque and Carasquilla, in that, with sluggish public spending, at least three million more people were incapacitated in the Covid-19 pandemic. Out of 89 percent of the homes that ate three meals a day, now only two out of three homes are able to do that; only 10 per cent of families are able to save, while one fifth say that they have no income; scarcely one in ten could claim the ability to buy durable goods, and a pitiful 4.3 percent are planning to buy a house. Even though 25 percent of people are receiving assistance, the coverage was insufficient, and the amounts, minimal. A catastrophe.

The economic results compare with the GDP in 2020 by -6.8 percent in recession. The reduction in appetite for construction, manufacturing, and mining, besides the fall in productive investment is -17 percent, and the uptick in unemployment to 17.3 percent, produce a horrifying picture. The direct foreign investment, the closing variable, diminished by 35 percent, and exports were reduced by 15 percent, an effect of external accounts that impelled the moderation of the extremely high deficit in the balance of payments with the FMI loan of $5,300,000,000. With fiscal gimmicks, Carrasquilla and Duque are trying to mitigate the panic about losing the investment ranking in the credit rating. Colombia, at the edge of the abyss.

Add the dramatic path of the vaccination, not just for the delay in getting it started, but also for the elephantine daily tempo that will imply five years to reach the two doses needed for herd immunity for 35 million people. Uribe is aware of the debacle and of the political cost to be expected. Crushed, he calls for help for agriculture, when he was the one that negotiated the TLC that ruined agriculture; he calls for help from labor, but he created Statute 789 in 2002 that impaired wages; he asks for cost-free higher education, but he fomented the privatization of public universities and cut their budgets; he speaks in the name of the business community, but he has deceived them for decades with false promises, like the textile and garment manufacturing industries, unrefined sugar businesses, and producers of ethanol and agrodiesel.

The end of the story of “the three little eggs”, the threadbare scarecrow of CastroChavismo, the number 6,402 of false positives, and the anti-democracy of his exercise of power send signals that oppose what Uribe is saying. That’s why he’s nervous; Watch out for 2022!

[1] Colombia’s National Department of Statistics

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