Archive for Monday, June 21, 2010

Colombia KU graduate now president

June 21, 2010


— A former defense minister from a powerful political clan who oversaw a major weakening of leftist rebels won Colombia’s presidency Sunday, routing an eccentric outsider in a runoff.

The victory for Juan Manuel Santos, a 58-year-old economist and three-time government minister, was a ringing endorsement of outgoing conservative President Alvaro Uribe, whose U.S.-backed security policies he helped craft and promised to continue.

Santos graduated from Kansas University in 1973 with degrees in business and economics.

With nearly all polling stations reporting, Santos had 69 percent of the vote against 28 percent for former two-time Bogota Mayor Antanas Mockus.

Mockus ran an anti-corruption campaign atop a fledgling Green Party that many Colombians considered naive if well-intentioned. But after catapulting into early contention he stumbled with a series of gaffes that had Colombians questioning his ability to run a country mired in a half-century-old conflict.

Violence marred Sunday’s vote as seven police officers and three soldiers were killed in separate attacks blamed on leftist rebels, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the country’s largest rebel band.

Santos, a former naval cadet, paid tribute to those losses in his victory speech, promising to work with Colombia’s armed forces to “consolidate control over every inch of our territory.”

“Time is up for the FARC,” he said. There will be no dialogue with the rebels as long as they continue to engage in kidnapping and drug trafficking, he said.

As defense minister in 2006-09, Santos helped knock the wind out of the FARC. Two members of its seven-man ruling secretariat were killed during his tenure and FARC desertions soared. He also oversaw the bloodless 2008 ruse that rescued former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, three U.S. military contractors and 11 others from long captivity with the rebels.


Shardwurm 7 years, 7 months ago

"Santos graduated from Kansas University in 1973 with degrees in business and economics."

Cost him about $5,000 for that degree.

ronwell_dobbs 7 years, 7 months ago

Are any Mizzou graduates running third-world, drug-fueled banana republics these days? Didn't think so (losers).

Alabamastreet 7 years, 7 months ago

No but a Mizzou grad did make chemical weapons for Saddam in Iraq . . . live that one down.

frank mcguinness 7 years, 7 months ago

Ronwell, mizzou grads usually don't qualify to run a convenience store so it's doubtfull they would run a country. We saw what the last mizzou grad did to a company. (sprint) KU will be laughing at that debacle for the next 100 years.

nobody1793 7 years, 7 months ago

Cool. That's one place I bet Texas doesn't recruit.

Uh, for sports I mean.

andreainkansas 7 years, 7 months ago

Colombia is hardly a " third-world, drug-fueled banana republic." It has the most stable democracy in Latin America and, compared to most of the hemisphere, has a decent-sized middle class. The U.S. federal student financial aid program was based on the Colombian model. And, yes, the drug war continues to be an issue, but it is U.S. and European demand at the heart of it. Bolivia and Peru are also major drug producing states, yet no one paints the same ugly picture of those nations.

Finally, Texas' community and smaller colleges, at least for basketball, do have a strong recruiting link to Colombia, particularly Choco natives in Bogota and Medellin. Edgar Moreno ended up playing for Texas through this network. Sorry guys. Maybe this can help KU recruiting. Basketball is a HUGE sport in Colombia, particularly in the Pacific region.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

" It has the most stable democracy in Latin America"

You've got to be kidding. It's an oligarchy, and vote-buying and election-rigging are among its main "democratic" features.

And our dear Kansas alum's main claim to fame (and power) is that he out-thugged the FARC.

andreainkansas 7 years, 7 months ago

I didn't say it was a perfect democracy. The U.S. doesn't have a perfect democracy, either. But compared to the successive golpes de estado, military juntas, and government instability elsewhere in the region, yes, Colombia's democratic government is stable in the region.

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