4 Feb 2010

POLO-UK select election candidate

Dr Glory Saavedra just sent me this, gracias

We here include the campaign proposal of the elected POLO-UK candidate for the House of Representatives in the forthcoming Congressional elections in Colombia - 14 March 2010. Manuel Puerto proposes to defend the conditions and rights of Colombian migrants, asylum seekers and refugees and also to ensure that Colombian exiles and those abroad have full democratic representation in Congress. The Presidential election is set for May 30th, 2010.

Incluimos aquí la prospuesta de campanha de Miguel Puerto, abogado y sindicalista Colombiano, residente en UK.
Manuel es el candidato de POLO-UK y propone defender las condiciones de l@s migrantes/asilad@s, refugiad@s Colombian@ en el exterior y también asegurar la voz de los Colombianos en el exterior en las políticas del país.


Congressional and Presidential elections in Colombia 2010.

Elections are coming up, not just in the UK, but in Colombia. Bearing in mind the dire state of the country under President Alvaro Uribe’s so-called “Democratic Security” policies and the high degree of corruption amongst Uribista senators and members of congress - this is an opportunity for the people to have their say and elect those who will turn the country around away from yet more militarization, poverty, oppression and violence.

From the late 1950s to the mid 1980s, the Frente Nacional – the agreed alternate Conservative and Liberal governments every four years - suffocated democracy. The two main parties are both neo-liberal in essence. Even the more recent apparent diversity of parties fielding candidates, does not hide the mostly accurate perception that, no matter what, it is always the same elitist and corrupt bunch standing for office - the representatives of the ruling class and/or drug mafia who have brought the country to its knees (witness the past questionable dealings of ex-mayor of Medellin/proposed presidential candidate, Sergio Fajardo. See also http://www.cipcol.org/?cat=89). In the last presidential elections of 2006 therefore, over ½ of the total electorate of 26m abstained. Thus Uribe’s “62%” victory (7m votes) is a scourge brought about by just ¼ (26%) of the possible electorate.

This year, however, despite the ever present assassinations, threats and illegal harassment which real critics of Uribe’s government have to endure, remarkable politicians have once more emerged as viable alternatives to the persistent repressive and clientelistic regimes. Two examples stand out. The first, and an exception in the otherwise confused and divided Liberal Party, is the outstanding peace campaigner, Senator Piedad Cordoba from the progressive Liberal left-wing current, Poder Ciudadano. [For more info on Piedad Cordoba see the latest issue of Frontline Latin America, January – March 2010 - out now!]. Senator Cordoba is standing this year as candidate for the Senate. On the other hand, the Liberal party’s postulated, presidential candidate, Rafael Pardo, though now critical of dictatorial Uribe, has supported Uribismo in the past and, despite his precarious support within his own party, will still pursue further militaristic policies which will deny the radical transformations necessary in Colombia.

The more promising party is the Polo Democratico Alternativo, a left alliance, which has now matured into serious opposition to the Uribistas. Its ranks include the brilliant and ethical lawyer Carlos Gaviria, Senator Jorge Robledo and Senator Gloria Cuartas amongst others. Their recently chosen presidential candidate Senator Gustavo Petro carried out distinguished leading investigations, over the last 4 years, which outed the illegal alliances made by the paramilitaries with hundreds of majority Uribista politicians. The Parapolitica scandal revelations rocked Colombia as they exposed the true extent and reach of mafia infiltration of government. The Polo Democratico has the potential to place a progressive president in power, one who will lead the way to build a new Colombia, a Colombia which will not be left behind by the inspiring tide of social, economic and democratic progress now often seen in the rest of the Latin American continent. [For a rough overview of some of the Polo’s other leading Senators and activists, see http://www.cipcol.org/?p=162 (English). View Senator Petro’s discussion of the manifesto at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-42Kmkf1UM&NR=1 (Spanish - 30mins)].

Colombians resident abroad, who registered their ID documents last year, will be able to vote and it is of utmost importance this year to do so in order not to condemn Colombia to 4 more years of rapacious capitalist exploitation and suffering. The Congressional Election date is 14 March whilst the Presidential Elections may be as early as 30th May. In the UK, the POLO-UK branch has elected a candidate for the House of Representatives on behalf of Colombian residents in exile, asylum seekers, migrants and their families. Miguel Puerto, human rights lawyer and trade unionist, has a programme proposal to improve the lot of Colombian exiles and for Colombians abroad to have a say in the future of Colombia. Miguel Puerto’s election manifesto is included (Spanish - pps). Open debate will carry on through Sussex Colombia Solidarity. Please feel free to email us your views and queries or come to our campaign meetings.

Dr Glory Saavedra, sussexcolombiasolidarity@gmail.com

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