BROOKINGS | 7/6/2010 12:00:00 AM
After the Presidential Elections: The Challenges Ahead in Colombia
The strong victory in Colombia’s presidential elections of Juan Manuel Santos, a former Minister of Defense in the outgoing administration of President Alvaro Uribe, reflects the sentiment of many Colombians that Colombia has achieved great progress over the past eight years. Yet while significant, the success remains incomplete and great challenges remain.
Yet critical weaknesses in security remain. In much of the territory nominally cleared of illegal armed actors, government presence remains sporadic and spotty. Often, illegal armed actors reign a short distance from major roads and government officials can enter many municipalities only with permission of the local armed actors. The government’s latest raid to liberate four prominent and long-held FARC hostages notwithstanding, the military effort against the FARC over the past year more or less has been stalled. The FARC still controls areas of difficult terrain, such as in Narino, and has increased its attacks along roads and in cities. Although the scale of its operations is small compared to the critical years of the late 1990s and the size of the territory the FARC controls is also far smaller, the operational tempo of attacks has increased and the resulting insecurity is sufficient to paralyze normal life.
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