Colombia’s President Ivan Duque told newspaper El Tiempo he considered his first year in office “positive,” blissfully ignoring his country’s harsh reality and public opinion.
In the interview with his campaign sponsor’s newspaper, the president said he had “many satisfactions,” contrary to the Colombian people who, according to polls, are increasingly pessimistic about their future.
“I have many satisfactions, but our duty is never to be satisfied. We always have to achieve more for the good of the country,” said Duque.
When asked about his biggest failure, the president smoothly responded that “more than failures, I believe we should learn some lessons in terms of being able to move towards a justice system that is closer to the citizen.”
Duque failed to push a justice reform through Congress and unsuccessfully tried to return the country’s war crimes tribunal to Congress, which, according to analysts, cost him nearly his entire political capital.
But Duque’s perception of reality is considerably different than that of the majority of opinion leaders or average Colombians, who largely disapprove of their president.
“We did not manage to move forward with our reform, but I believe today that it should not be a reform, but rather a set of measures that will allow us to improve the service of justice,” according to the president.
When challenged by his sponsor’s newspaper about the tsunami of criticism he has received, Duque said that “I always listen to criticism with a sense of modesty and a vocation to give the best for the country.”
The president’s newly found modesty was in sharp contrast to his sentiments last week, when he said much of the criticism was “venomous.”
Duque’s persistent denials of reality, for example about the stagnating economy and his failure to obtain majority support in congress, made it look like senior journalist Yamid Amat had put on a broken record.
Amat pushed and pushed about the criticism from Duque’s far-right party, the center right voting block and the leftist opposition, but the president stoically insisted his first year was a success.
Duque denied concerns by the central bank, contradicted the central bank about the causes of his country’s accelerating unemployment rate, denied having made more trips abroad in one year than his predecessor in eight, and inflated the value of economic deals with China.
Colombia’s president appears to have adopted the “alternative facts” strategy of his American counterpart Donald Trump, making it almost impossible to make sense of anything Duque was talking about, even for one of Colombia’s most experienced journalists.