By Juan Carlos Botero, EL ESPECTADOR, January 6, 2022


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

There’s a big difference between being and seeming to be, and if anything characterizes Iván Duque’s administration, it’s his obsession with seeming to be, and his almost criminal lack of interest in being. That’s to say, there is a daily and sustained effort on the part of the President to appear forceful, effective, intransigent about corruption, a supporter of peace and tolerance toward the opposition. But the sorry truth is that he shows little interest in being any of those things.

Clearly: it’s more difficult to be than to seem to be, because to be those things requires clear and verifiable successes. As those do not exist, you have to inflate their appearance and call on tribal solidarity, and there are plenty of Members of Congress that are followers of Uribism to applaud the government and echo your “exploits” and “achievements”. So much so that there are those who say that this President will be remembered as one of the best in history. They must be very disconnected to reality, even more than Iván Duque, to say something so extravagant.

The truth is that in this administration, what we’ve seen is that he’s two-faced: on one side, the official face, serious and concerned about the direction of the country; the other face, the authentic face of indifference, the lack of understanding, the cynicism, and often the total insolence (“my worst defect is my perfectionism”, the President has said). Because of that when the pandemic started, while in other countries the people were being vaccinated with efficiency, faced with the dramatic shortage of vaccine that was arriving in Colombia, the few that were unloaded from an airplane were covered with the flag of Colombia, the whole government—headed by the Chief of State—received them at the airport with hands on their hearts, and they all began to sing the national anthem. I repeat: faced with the lack of results, you have to turn to appearances. And it’s been that way in everything.

This administration appears to be in favor of peace, but does as much as it can to weaken it and impede compliance with the Agreement. He appears to respect the opposition and the protests, but he ignores the gunfire that gouges out eyes, and denies the existence of disappearances and the abuses by the forces of public order. He appears to reject corruption, but he fixes it so that the Attorney General, the Inspector General, and the Public Defender are friendly to the administration. He appears to rely on brilliant economists that make speeches about the orange economy and all that, while the public debt rises to the highest figure in history and, even though the President proclaims that the economy has never grown this much—more than in 115 years he brags—José Antonio Ocampo points out that it only grew 2.3%. The President appears to be a great defender of the environment, but he overlooks, in world forums, that in no other country have so many environmentalists and social leaders been murdered as in Colombia. And he appears to lead on the crisis in public order, but ignores the tragic increase in massacres, and he forgets the people of Arauca who are trapped in the middle of insurgent violence.

This strategy by the President is understandable, of course. Because when neither facts nor substance exist, you have to turn to farce. Applauding appearances, trusting that nobody realizes that behind those speeches, the hymns, the stage scenery, nothing is there. And a great deal of suffering.

But here is the problem: we do realize it.

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