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Archive for Sunday, May 23, 2010

Jayhawk is leading candidate in Colombian presidential election

Juan Manuel Santos, Class of 1973, one of many family members to attend KU

Juan Manuel Santos, presidential candidate of the Social National Unity Party in Colombia, gestures  during his closing campaign rally in Bogota on Friday. Santos graduated from Kansas University in 1973 with degrees in business and economics.

Juan Manuel Santos, presidential candidate of the Social National Unity Party in Colombia, gestures during his closing campaign rally in Bogota on Friday. Santos graduated from Kansas University in 1973 with degrees in business and economics.

May 23, 2010

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As traveling Kansas University fans know, there are Jayhawk alumni seemingly everywhere you look. You can even find one running for the presidency of a South American country.

Juan Manuel Santos graduated from KU in 1973 with degrees in economics and business. Today, he’s ahead in the polls in the upcoming Colombian presidential election.

Santos greets supporters from the back of a truck during a campaign rally Thursday in Fundacion, northern Colombia. Colombia will hold presidential elections on May 30.

Santos greets supporters from the back of a truck during a campaign rally Thursday in Fundacion, northern Colombia. Colombia will hold presidential elections on May 30.

Phil Miller, who today works as a mediator in Kansas City, roomed with Santos when they were both members of Delta Upsilon fraternity.

“From the get-go, Juan always said he was going to go back to Colombia” and get involved in politics, Miller said. “He’s got that in his bloodstream.”

Miller recalled Santos as a fun-loving, smart-as-a-whip character from an erudite and elite background. They met in a basketball class, and Miller encouraged Santos to join the fraternity.

Santos was one of many members of his family to attend KU.

“He told me it was the intensive English program, combined with journalism” that brought the family to KU, Miller recalled.

Many other members of the Santos family who attended KU went through the School of Journalism. The family operates El Tiempo newspaper in Colombia, the nation’s largest media operation.

“That whole bunch has been coming and going,” said Larry Day, a retired journalism school faculty member.

Santos went on to study at Harvard University and London School of Economics.

Miller remembered one time when he visited Santos in England during the early 1980s, and Santos took him to an upper room of a casino to play baccarat.

“All I could think about was James Bond,” Miller said. “I remember thinking, ‘This guy, really, he’s got something else here that the rest of us don’t.’”

Keith Yehle, KU’s director of government relations, remembered a meeting with U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., when the discussion turned to Santos.

Yehle recalled engaging in some good-natured ribbing about the KU-Missouri rivalry with the congressman.

A member of the House Armed Services committee, Skelton had traveled to Colombia. At one meeting he walked up to Santos, who was then serving as the nation’s defense minister, and asked how he learned to speak English so well.

When he learned the reason, he could only laugh.

“‘Here I am, in the middle of Colombia, and there’s a KU grad standing across from me,’” Yehle recalled Skelton saying.

During his tenure as defense minister, Santos played a role in the rescue mission that eventually led to the 2008 rescue of Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate being held hostage by FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a Marxist rebel group.

His time at KU has come up during the campaign, too. Colombia Reports, an independent news organization in the country, reported that the candidate was asked in a radio interview if he smoked marijuana while at KU.

“During the university phase, I smoked marijuana just as almost all (my) colleagues at the universities did,” Santos was quoted as saying.

A rival presidential candidate has also admitted to smoking the drug.

The latest media reports in Colombia have Santos leading in the polls heading into the May 30 elections. A runoff election is possible if no candidate gains a majority of the vote.

The Associated Press contributed material for this article.

Comments

Soap 3 years, 11 months ago

Caption should read: "Check out my tiny bracelets!"

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Hydra 3 years, 11 months ago

Maybe KU can get a drug discount now.

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kusp8 3 years, 11 months ago

Too late, I already declared war on Misery.

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thebcman 3 years, 11 months ago

pretty handy that his family operates the largest media operation in the country.

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Flap Doodle 3 years, 11 months ago

Will he declare war on Missouri if elected?

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iLikelawrence 3 years, 11 months ago

...kinda looks like Sam Brownback...

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beobachter 3 years, 11 months ago

as a frat member, he obviously learned how to cheat and lie to reach his goal.

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catchmeifucan 3 years, 11 months ago

If you do your homework, you will find out the Momar Khadafi was also a grad student at KU. Not sure if he graduated, but he did attend. Something KU doesnt like to talk about. Back in the 70's I believe.

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local_support 3 years, 11 months ago

I wanna see his birth certificate

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 11 months ago

As defense minister, the esteemed Jayhawk Alumnus is almost certainly up to his ears in extrajudicial killings and assassinations. As the conservative candidate for Colombian president, and heir apparent to outgoing President Uribe, if he's elected, look for him to continue the status quo, which means continued vast wealth for his and other elite families in Colombia, and grinding poverty for the majority of Colombians.

http://mydd.com/2010/5/21/cynicism-truimphant

"Under Uribe, Colombia experienced one of its most dynamic periods of economic growth averaging over 5 percent per annum. Exports doubled and foreign direct investment tripled but like with much of the neo-liberal economic agenda that growth failed to lift the poorest of the poor. Under Uribe, Colombia was the only country in South America where social inequality increased over the past decade. Colombia's GINI coefficient went from 0.53 in 2002 to 0.58 last year.

In terms of land tenure, Colombia boasts the third most concentrated land holding pattern in the Americas - just 1.4 percent of Colombians own 65.4 percent of the land. Only Haiti and Bolivia have more unequal metrics. Nor did Uribe's economic boom translate into jobs, Colombia's unemployment rate is the highest in the region. The official rate is 12.3 percent but that belies the fact that nearly half of all Colombians are marginally employed in the informal sector. So much for the theory that uribismo has meant progress. Like its Republican counterpart in the United States, urbismo has brought tangible economic benefits if you are part of an elite. If you're poor, urbismo has delivered few benefits and in places like Sahagún not even shoes.

Vote-buying is a long established fact in Colombia and it is places like Córdoba where it is most rampnant. These people were treated to a lunch of tamales, roast suckling pig, given t-shirts and a cash stipend perhaps a few kilos of rice. In all, some 10 to 15 percent of the Colombian electorate will sell their votes with the going rate somewhere between $50 and $70 USD. This is, of course, what the Mockus campaign must overcome. Two polls will be out later today and I suspect the race is, as of now, a dead heat."

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