ISSUE #439, JUNE 28, 1998
LAFAYETTE ST., NEW YORK, NY 10012 (212) 674-9499 


Andres Pastrana Arango of the Conservative Party won Colombia's
June 21 presidential runoff election with 50.44% of the vote,
beating out Liberal Party candidate Horacio Serpa Uribe (with
46.47%) and ending 12 years of Liberal Party control of the
government. Pastrana said he will head a "government of unity"
and asked "all sectors of society" to reach an accord on
important themes such as an end to the country's more than 40-
year armed conflict. [Clarin (Buenos Aires) 6/22/98; CNN en
Espanol 6/21/98] 
Pastrana quickly announced that he will institute economic "belt-
tightening" measures as soon as he assumes the presidency on Aug.
7. "We have to put into effect a serious fiscal adjustment," he
warned. Pastrana gave no details about the measures, or about how
he will reconcile the adjustment with his promise to reduce the
poverty affecting 53% of Colombia's population. Gabriel Rosas,
president of the Public Spending Comission and one of Pastrana's
economic advisers, explained that the needed measures include a
reduction in public spending, the restructuring of the
administration to combine or eliminate government entities, and
control of tax evasion. The Liberal Party majority in Congress is
unlikely to block any of Pastrana's neoliberal economic
adjustment measures, says Liberal leader and former Colombian
president Alfonso Lopez Michelsen.
Colombia's private sector announced its support for Pastrana's
economic adjustment plans. "If we want what's good for Colombia,
economic recovery and the achievement of peace, we all have to
adjust our belts," said Jaime Alberto Cabal, president of the
business group Consejo Gremial. [El Universal (Caracas) 6/23/98
from AP]
Pastrana is also forging ahead with a plan to begin dialogue with
Colombia's leftist rebels. He has asked the government for the
required permission and guarantees so that he can hold a meeting
with leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC). The government has failed to respond, insisting that only
the Conciliation Commission and spokespeople of the govenrment
can make contact with the rebels. Spokespersons of the FARC and
the National Liberation Army (ELN) seemed cautious about a
possible meeting under current conditions, but said they are
willing to hold talks leading to a peace process, based on their
proposal "for a democracy with social justice and deep reforms
that would make a lasting peace possible." [Agencia de Noticias
Nueva Colombia (ANNCOL) 6/22/98] 
Pastrana has charged vice president elect Gustavo Bell with
government affairs relating to human rights, according to East
Timorese activist and 1996 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jose Ramos
Horta. Ramos Horta praised Pastrana's move, calling it "an
example and indication of the president's determination to make
efforts for social justice..." [El Universal (Caracas) 6/27/98
from EFE] Speaking in Bogota on June 25 after meeting with
Pastrana, Ramos Horta pledged to promote the support of
international organizations for eventual peace talks between the
government and rebel groups. [El Colombiano (Medellin) 6/26/98]
At a June 26 press conference in Bogota, Ramos Horta offered to
serve as a mediator in the talks, but said he would first consult
with Pastrana before accepting the role. [Miami Herald 6/27/98]
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