Will we see the FARC in Congress?

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Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos plans to allow the FARC to fight for seats in congress.

For many in Colombia the mere thought of a Timochenko in a position of power is enough to make the blood boil. How can a mass murderer enter parliament, they say? How can the families of the victims killed by the 45 years of terror be expected to react to the sight of this criminal pretending to represent the electorate?

They have a point, but however difficult it is to live with, we are going to have to get used to the idea of former combatants fighting for our vote.

President Santos confirmed as much in an interview with CNN while in the US last week.

In the UK they have grown accustomed to the site of former terrorists now in power, Following the Good Friday Peace Agreement of 1998, the IRA promised to disarm and began the process of choosing politics over violence.

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Uribe’s opposition a gain for Colombia’s democracy by Colombia Reports

Editorial by Colombia Reports

The rift between Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos and his predecessor Alvaro Uribe is a welcoming step in Colombia’s development as a democracy.

Colombia may almost always have officially been a democracy, but the quality of the country’s democracy has traditionally been very low when measuring along the lines of participation, representation, accountability, transparency and solidarity.

Add the fact that power struggles in Colombia have long gone hand in hand with violence, either through competition between political elites, the repression of opposition, or by violently trying to overthrow the establishment.

Colombia’s transition from an almost feudal system ruled by elites represented by two political parties to an actually functional democratic state is a work in progress and is long from being finished.

In order to reach a quality democracy, Colombia first had to break from a traditional two-party hegemony.

Before the 1991 constitution, Colombia was run, through pseudo-elections, by the Conservative and Liberal Party. Even though this hegemony was officially ended by the latest constitution and a number of armed opposition forces were included to the democratic process, it wasn’t until 2001, when Uribe came into the picture, that Colombia started breaking from its past.

First, Uribe broke from his Liberal Party to successfully run as an independent candidate, drawing support from several sectors in society and becoming Colombia’s first independent president.

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Colombian Conservatives place President Santos on notice

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As the curtain raised on a new session of congress on Friday, Efraín Cepeda, the director of the Colombian Conservatives, warned of a ‘crisis’ in President Juan Manuel Santos’ National Unity coalition government. The leader of the second largest parliamentary force was speaking after a special meeting of his troops where their presence in this coalition was confirmed, but where it was also conditioned on big change.

Cepeda is exploiting the first serious signs of weakness in the Santos regime; the president is desperate to restore relations with congress, and is starting to look over his shoulder as Alvaro Uribe’s political party takes shape.

Many Conservatives are ideologically tied to Alvaro Uribe rather than President Santos and will be tempted, as we approach the pre-election cycle next year, to join his movement. For Santos the price of their continued support has risen significantly.
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Health care latest: Obama says House made ‘the right vote’

The House passed on Sunday the Senate’s health care reform bill and a package of measures meant to reconcile differences between the Senate bill and the one it passed last year.

Here’s the latest on what’s happening:

11:48 p.m.: President Obama says that the House’s vote on health care “wasn’t an easy vote but it was the right vote.”

Speaking from the East Room of the White House, the president, who made health care reform a priority for his administration, said the vote wasn’t a victory for a political party but for the American people.

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