A short article in El Espectador recently quoted different Government ministers who outlined their plans for this end of year festive season. Naturally, they were very enthusiastic to visit their families and immerse themselves in the spirit of Christmas.
Most of them also agreed that this was a time to reflect on their performance. This is definitely an extremely good idea that should be put into practice every day not only once a year. Although, even a continued humble reflection would not be enough to alter the government’s philosophy.
It would be unfair to state that all ministers have done an appalling job. Although, some ministries have just not caught the eye of the press which is overwhelmed by the abundant news material that just the Defence and Agriculture ministries eagerly publicize.
It is not a coincidence that these ministers have the express aim of launching their candidacy for presidential and/or senate elections. Nevertheless, the government’s neo-liberal agenda indicates the general direction that all government ministers have taken in the social, political and economic spheres.
The end result of the government’s ideology is not difficult to discern. It is as simple as outlining the negative events of the year. For instance, the ‘false positives’, the indigenous march for their right to own productive land, Carimagua’s multiple changes of plans, sugar cane cutters wage protest, interminable congress links with paramilitary groups, millionaire recompense to criminals, re-election bribes, free trade agreement with the United States and Canada, Uribe’s flip flopping, and the pyramids, among many others.
There are also positive actions from the government. The rescue of 15 kidnapped civilians and military personal is perhaps the most significant achievement. However, it would be presumptuous to argue that they would be in the long term interest of all Colombians.
Due to this success — ‘Operation Jaque’ gives the government more legitimacy — a serious peace process with the FARC is something that not even baby Jesus can give us. If the government maintains its arrogance in perceiving the end of the internal conflict through military operations there will be many more generations wasted (similarities with Bush’s philosophy are pure coincidence).
This conflict will not be won in the military front, internal conflicts rarely are. A huge percentage of economic resources being assigned to the armed forces should instead be invested in the social, educational and health front. This is in the best interest of the country, otherwise more marches, protest and social unrest would emanate from the misery of millions. Sadly, Colombian history illustrates how these frustrations are channeled into forming armed groups, instead of creating a political front that can alter the politics in the country. An ironic vicious circle.
This period of reflection would not lead to changes in government policies given that they have achieved their purpose, benefiting the small percentage at the top of society. This period should be utilized, instead, by the population to analyze what six years of economic neo-liberalism has led to. This period should be utilized by the people to realize whether more sustainable policies can be achieved where the people are the beneficiaries. This period should be utilized to ask ourselves whether a new re-election is in the best interest of the people.
Author Sebastian Castaneda is Colombian studies psychology and political economy at the University of Hong Kong