Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos on Monday said that he wanted history to remember him for leading a government that advocated for the rights of all Colombians, for having a government that respected and defended all freedoms.
Santos said that his administration is respectful of differences and fundamental rights and as thus, the government under his command has defended the right to work, the right to health and to an education as framed in the country’s constitution.
The president visited the headquarters of newspaper El Tiempo in Bogota along with mayors and governors from around the country to sign a declaration promising to uphold the freedom of the press. When prompted, Santos said that he hoped history would display him as he sees himself — as the leader of “a progressive government, [to be remembered as] a government reformer, [for having] a decent government, and by decent, I mean a government respectful of differences and respectful of freedoms.”
The former journalist stressed that the mandate of his government is based upon the principles of respect and the rights enshrined in the Constitution.
Santos said that all Colombians should be guaranteed the right to life and security which means peace in Colombia, something the president called an obligation. He then said that the homicide rate in 2012 was the lowest in three decades.
“The right to peace, as it is [written] in our Constitution [means we have] an obligation to seek peace and that is what we are doing,” said the president.
The Santos administration is currently involved in peace negotiations with the country’s largest guerrilla group, FARC, in attempts to end the nearly 50-year bloody insurgency.
Colombia’s head of state went on to say that much like how the right to peace is shared by all Colombians, so too is the right to work. He then reiterated that his administration lived up to its promise of creating two and a half million jobs in their first term.
Regarding the right to an education, Santos recalled the decree he signed in 2012 that declared all children in grade school up through high school would receive a free education.
“That right,” said the president, “we have given to 8.6 million children.”
How history will record Juan Manuel Santos remains to be told. After May of next year, however, the Colombian people will decide whether this “progressive government reformer” will be remembered as a two-term president or just a lame duck.