Ivan Duque Is Failing to Chart a Definitive Course for his Presidency

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Anti-government protests in Bogota, Colombia, 12/4/2019 © Gabriel L. Guerrero / Shutterstock

In accordance with a latest ballot performed by Invamer, Colombia’s president Ivan Duque is going through a traditionally low reputation after little over a yr in workplace. The announcement adopted months of continued struggles for Alvaro Uribe’s protégé, which embrace (however aren’t restricted to) his legislative initiatives being blocked by the opposition, and thousands and thousands of Colombians going to the streets to protest towards his authorities. However why accomplish that few Colombians approve of President Duque? Can he flip these numbers round in the course of the subsequent three years?

A number of causes are behind the president’s low reputation, together with the notion amongst his supporters that Duque isn’t governing with sufficient assertiveness; an outsized concentrate on international coverage and a sequence of fake pas in that realm; unpopular financial measures and macroeconomic indicators; and a rising assist for the implementation of the 2015 peace settlement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which Duque’s get together fiercely opposes.

In latest months, President Duque has confronted a string of widespread protests airing various grievances throughout main cities — from calls to guard sharks alongside Colombia’s coastlines to these demanding the elimination of ESMAD, a riot-police squad chargeable for the loss of life of 18-year-old Dilan Cruz in the course of the protests. Though Duque’s administration has begrudgingly engaged in dialogue with a number of the protest leaders after days of public strain, his authorities is standing by most of its agenda and transferring ahead with coverage selections.

Dissident Guerrillas Are Rearming in Colombia


Nonetheless, Duque’s accommodating angle and openness to dialogue with the opposition have let down a lot of his supporters, each in politics and amongst civil society. The truth that Duque didn’t merely follow his weapons and dismiss the protests as a Maduro-orchestrated plot pissed off a number of the extra heavy-handed members of his personal get together.

The identical occurred when he eliminated his former minister of protection after it was made public that new circumstances of “falsos positivos” — the so-called “false positives,” referring to the killing of civilians by Colombia’s army to inflate the numbers within the conflict towards the guerillas — have allegedly occurred and that the Colombian military had killed seven minors in a bombing marketing campaign towards FARC dissidents.

Overseas Coverage, Economics and Peace

One other driver behind President Duque’s low approval score is the truth that he has spent period of time engaged in abroad diplomacy, each on the financial and political fronts. In the course of the early months of 2019, Duque spent a major period of time and sources centered on the political scenario in Venezuela, which could have been higher spent coping with the scenario of Venezuelans in Colombia, whose numbers are estimated to have surpassed 1.5 million final yr.

In the course of the top of Juan Guaido’s momentum to realize energy in Venezuela in 2019, Duque hosted Guaidó and their Chilean and Paraguayan counterparts on the iconic border metropolis of Cucuta for a communications operation that includes mountains of much-needed support for Venezuela and a live performance. Within the frenzy of all of it, Duque talked concerning the imminent transition towards democracy in Venezuela. A yr later, stated transition has but to occur.

Throughout his yr in workplace, President Duque has made greater than 20 journeys overseas and spearheaded regional efforts — time that may have been higher spent focussing on home points.

The nationwide economic system has been one other controversial entrance for the president. In accordance with the newest numbers from Colombia’s Nationwide Statistics Bureau and regardless of research that counsel that the nationwide GDP will continue to grow, the unemployment price has risen to roughly 10%. Moreover, regardless of Duque’s marketing campaign promise to not increase taxes for common residents, in December he handed a tax laws, often known as the Legislation of Financial Development, that lowers the earnings threshold for tax payers whereas lowering duties and royalties for enterprises.

Lastly, there’s the peace course of. It’s no secret that President Duque has neglected and sought to change some, if not all, of the commitments underwritten by the Colombian state in the course of the presidency of Juan Manuel Santos. In accordance with The New York Occasions, 57% of the legal guidelines associated to the peace accords are but to cross congress, and Duque’s vocal assaults towards the Particular Peace Jurisdiction system are accompanied by his lack of ability to deal with the safety considerations of ex-FARC members. The final report on Colombia’s peace course of offered to the UN Safety Council concluded that 2019 has been the deadliest yr for demobilized guerilla members.

This growth (or lack thereof) is worrisome for the greater than 6 million Colombians who voted to ratify the ultimate settlement within the 2016 referendum and for many who assist it these days. A Gallup Ballot notes that, though 67% of Colombians nonetheless consider in dialogue with armed teams, nearly the identical share feels that the implementation goes astray. Belief in each the federal government and the guerrillas could be very low.

Within the Shadows

His first yr in workplace has not been form to President Duque. Past the various particular person themes that he has addressed, there’s each nationwide and worldwide consensus that Duque’s authorities lacks a novel, outlined taste. Whereas President Santos centered his insurance policies and his private picture across the peace course of, as Alvaro Uribe had achieved along with his seguridad democrática, Duque has not but adopted a banner for himself. His insurance policies lack an outlined path.

This id vacuum is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, his detractors discover it unattainable to distinguish him from Uribe and his get together, an affiliation that received Duque the presidency within the first place. Nonetheless, now that Uribe’s reputation can be dipping, the sturdy affiliation may symbolize a legal responsibility for Duque. “The younger chief must emerge from his sponsor’ shadow,” wrote The Economist.

President Duque’s lukewarm insurance policies have additionally angered his personal get together, which has complained of his lack of a follow-through on daring marketing campaign guarantees and of his reluctance to do as Uribe advises. Amidst the November 2019 protests that paralyzed Colombia, Fernando Londono, a senior determine belonging to probably the most radical wing of the Democratic Middle get together, went so far as to counsel overtly that Duque must resign: “Somebody has to control, and if President Duque doesn’t need to, if he’s busy within the many conversations he has, somebody must be in cost.”

Briefly, Ivan
Duque’s traditionally low reputation accounts for his lack of ability to persuade each
his voters and his opponents of his agenda. Till he is ready to set his
priorities and provides his presidency a particular character, the prospect of President
Duque escaping the shadow of his predecessors will elude him.

views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially
mirror Truthful Observer’s editorial coverage.

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