Posted by Santiago Sosa on Jun 13, 2011 Leave a comment

What does Humala’s election mean for Colombia?

Colombia news - Ollanta Humala

Leftist leader Ollanta Humala won the elections in Peru by a very close margin. One may ask oneself, did the Peruvians voted somewhat similarly as they have in past elections, choosing the lesser of two evils instead, did they actually choose the best candidate? And is Humala the lesser of two evils for Colombia, the best outcome or the worst one?

The paranoid point of view is that Colombia is now surrounded by leftists – and not just any kind of leftists: chavistas. This shouldn’t be a problem for several reasons: First, Humala has distanced himself from Chávez and wants to implement Brazil’s model, which is quite compatible with Colombia (politically at least). Second, Humala is not the only one distanced from Chávez: Ecuador’s Correa has always wanted to stand for himself, and wants his Revolución Ciudadana (the citizens’ revolution) to be as original and autonomous as possible. Third, Chávez is losing support both domestically and internationally, and many are pointing out that his model has failed, with no one wanting to emulate it anymore. Finally, current bilateral relations with the neighbors are at such a good point that it wouldn’t be anyone’s interest to disrupt them.

The optimistic point of view is that relations will improve: If Humala is really set on eradicating poverty while maintaining Peru’s current model, or making few changes, then the Peruvians will find themselves wealthier and more able to have better economic ties with Colombia. Certainly, now that Peru and Colombia integrated their stock exchange markets with Chile, then Humala’s best choice is to maintain a good relation with Colombia and further economic cooperation, and the fact that he could achieve a great deal of social development may have a strong impact in Colombia’s own development.

Finally, the realistic point of view is that there will be no changes in Peru’s relation with Colombia. Even more so, there will be few changes in Peru’s foreign policy, as Humala has said that he would prefer good relations with the U.S. and has declared himself to be against the legalization of drug consumption. Domestically, since he won by such a small margin, then he is ever dependent on alliances and coalitions he manages to build with other parties, particularly that of ex-President Alejandro Toledo. Humala will not have a huge room for maneuverability.

In the end, Humala’s political colors are not of the highest importance. The Colombians know this better than most, currently having a chameleon for President.