By Cecilia Orozco Tascón, EL ESPECTADOR, May 25, 2021

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

In spite of the fact that Colombia is at the brink of an abyss that could cost us an interruption in the democratic form of government that we enjoy, and which, at least has allowed the alternation of legislative and executive powers every four years; in spite of the fact that the Duque administration is faced with the worst crisis in governance that has confronted a national executive in decades, neither the President, nor the Vice President, nor his Cabinet, nor the genius aides in the Office of the President, have taken seriously the wave of peaceful and violent protests that have almost shaken the foundations of the State. This hollow administration, one month after the explosion, is still playing around with tricks and distraction: as if it were a magnanimous act and not a necessity born of political reality, the President of the Republic deigns to set up a conversation with the Strike Committee, and never sat down with the leaders of the people. He assigned Miguel Ceballos to coordinate with their group of delegates, even though the former Peace Commissioner had resigned and was about to retire.

In public statements he offers guarantees for the marches and then announces “military assistance” for the cities; he says he respects those who go to the demonstrations, but Police, both in uniform and in civilian clothes, under his command, point their weapons directly at the group of pillagers and, indiscriminately, at the good citizens. While in the streets Colombians are recreating the bloody scenes of the gunfighters of the American Wild West, and the neighbors, terrified, are dodging bullets and inhaling tear gas, Duque, who lives on an enchanted planet distant from this Earth, dedicates his time to acting in a studio that’s exclusively for him, with cameras full face and in profile, to answer, in English, the questions from a screen that doesn’t put pressure on him in the way that questions from professional journalists would. His “answers”—better yet, his prefabricated lines—about the national paralysis don’t show even minimal respect for the truth.

In reality, the President’s disconnect from Colombia on fire is shocking! And that of his Vice President-Chancellor who, also like an enchanted princess, is embarking on a trip abroad, certain that with the empty “chariot” with which she has conquered the voters here, she will be able to entertain the leadership of the multilateral agencies there. Her mission, should she decide to accept it, consists in closing the doors to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (CIDH) that wishes to visit this country. The CIDH would assess, on the ground, whether it’s true that the commandos of the Police have adjusted their procedures in the demonstrations to the international conventions, or if they are as savage as the vandals they are combating. The explanation by Marta Lucía Ramírez is laughable, a distressful laughter: there is no need for the Inter-American Commission or other independent envoy to examine the conduct of the officials. The investigators the country is using will resolve all doubts, she maintained. “Attorney General, Inspector General, Public Defender, all of them have establish a work team to make sure that there is not one single case of human rights violation,” she told some demonstrators that were waiting for her to come out of the house of Colombia’s Ambassador in Washington. I take it back: It isn’t laughable, rather, it’s infuriating that Ramírez is pretending that anybody has confidence in Attorney General Barbosa (former adviser to Duque), in Inspector General Cabello Blanco (Duque’s former Minister), and in Public Defender Camargo (political ally of Duque, and so sensitive to the victims that he preferred to leave, in one of the most delicate episodes of violence, on a holiday weekend in Anapoima).

The Duque administration is in free fall, gone to pieces: Alberto Carrasquilla had to leave, with his tail between his legs, a Minister so autonomous that it looked as if he was the President’s boss, and not the contrary; Claudia Blum left also, with her head down; Miguel Ceballos left, throwing his abuses in the face of the untouchable Uribe, and confronting the governing party, the same one that right now, doesn’t know how to unload what it got from Uribe; Viviane Morales resigned as Ambassador to Paris, as she was getting too close to the debacle. They’re leaving the sinking ship one and all, and Duque still doesn’t get it. The worst leader at the worst moment.

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