Colombia’s 28th president, Cesar Gaviria, will be President Juan Manuel Santos‘ new campaign manager as he seeks re-election in just nine days.
|Colombia’s 2014 elections|
Colombia’s Semana magazine put it best, when it said that a “heavy weight” has just arrived to President Santos’ campaign: former liberal party president of the nation and ex-secretary general of the Organization of American States, Cesar Gaviria.
The addition of Gaviria this Thursday, who was elected in 1990 after his incredibly popular political mentor and presidential hopeful Luis Carlos Galan was assassinated by drug cartels in 1989, appears to be a direct challenge to Santos’ immediate presidential predecessor, Alvaro Uribe.
According to most recent polls, the incumbents only viable challenger is the Democratic Center (Centro Democratico – CD) party’s Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, who is supported fully by party creator Uribe. There are few posters of Zuluaga that do not have the former head of state in them as well.
Now, two former presidents are effectively running the campaigns of the two frontrunner candidates: Gaviria with Santos and Uribe with Zuluaga.
This news comes after two weeks of scandals have rocked both campaigns — though without any consequences in the polls — causing both campaign managers to resign.
Santos needed a replacement fast after his main political strategist got into trouble for allegedly receiving $12M from drug traffickers. The scandal forced his political spin doctor Juan Jose (JJ) Rendon to resign while prosecution officials opened a criminal investigation.
Meanwhile, Zuluaga’s campaign manager resigned over a wiretapping scandal that brought the candidate and Uribe under fire.
Gaviria is certainly a political powerhouse in Colombia, and is an appropriate strategic choice for Santos, as Santos’ main talking point throughout this election cycle has been his championed peace talks with the FARC guerrilla group, and Gaviria presided over the 1991 dialogues that resulted in the demobilization of the M-19 guerrilla group.
Gaviria also lead the creation of the current constitution of Colombia, which was formed in 1991.
The first round of the presidential elections take place on May 25.