Colombia to go Green in May 30 presidential race?

Posted on May 17th, 2010 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

ColombiaColombia's presidential election on May 30 is developing into an unexpectedly tight race between Juan Manuel Santos—incumbent hardliner Alvaro Uribe's former defense minister who pledges to continue the current aggressive military campaign against drugs and guerillas—and Antanas Mockus, reformist, anti-corruption candidate of the Green Party (Partido Verde). In February, President Uribe was constitutionally barred from running for a third term, leaving Santos as his heir-apparent and presumed shoe-in. But polls are showing Mockus' potential as an upset victor.

As a two-term mayor of Bogotá, Mockus, the son of Lithuanian immigrants, was seen as an idealistic infrastructure wonk with an eccentric streak, promoting bicycle lanes, traffic calming and mass transit. The Economist wryly says he was the city's "chief pedagogue," urging bogotanos not to run red lights, dump litter or beat their wives, sometimes dressing up as "Super Citizen" in spandex to get the message across. As the rector of the National University in Bogotá, he once dropped his trousers and mooned an auditorium of unruly students to get their attention.

Mockus and his allies have positioned themselves firmly in the center. They say they are neither with nor against Uribe. Mockus vows to continue the current government's security policies, but not what he calls Uribe's "anything goes" attitude that he blames for human rights abuses. (World War 4 Report, May 15)

But there are signs that his election could mean an opening in the country's entrenched drug-fueled conflict. During a recent debate with other candidates, Mockus answered a question about Plan Colombia—the US aid plan that funds the militarized anti-drug effort—by proposing a national dialogue to reconsider the country's drug policy. (Colombia Reports, April 9)


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