Colombia’s Congress was supposed to return from its three-month Christmas recess on Monday, but decided the country could do without democracy for another month because of the coronavirus.
The decision of Senate President Lidio Garcia to suspend activities until April 13 was not coordinated with the House of Representatives, whose president Carlos Cuenca said the lower chamber plans to convene on April 3.
Why Cuenca decided on April 3rd is a mystery as this is the Friday before Holy Week when Colombia’s notoriously absent lawmakers generally don’t work.
The decision of Garcia and Cuanca adds another month to the paralyzation of Congress that has been on Christmas recess since December 16.
According to newspaper El Espectador, the senate president ordered the development of an online platform that would allow his chamber to vote on legislation until the lawmakers return to Bogota.
Garcia ordered the development of this platform after several senators were opposed to doing nothing for another month.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, the government of President Ivan Duque is considering postponing reform proposals until after summer recess, which ends on July 20, apparently not counting that Garcia’s online voting proposal will amount to anything.
Duque and his ministers have been overwhelmed by the accumulation of crises that began with a steep drop in oil prices, was followed by the arrival of the coronavirus and ended with evidence Duque’s 2018 election may have been illegitimate.
The last time Colombia was without Congress for such an extended period of time was between June and November 1991 when Congress was revoked by a Constituent Assembly that had rewritten the country’s constitution and had called new elections.
Since then, Colombia’s so-called “temple of democracy” has become infamous for the chronic absence of lawmakers and rampant corruption.