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| 6/22/2010 12:00:00 AM

Will Washington treat Colombia's Santos as an ally?

Juan Manuel Santos has demonstrated that pro-American, pro-free-market politicians still have life in Latin America.

Mr. Santos, who romped to victory in Colombia's presidential runoff on Sunday, has no interest in courting Iran, unlike Brazil's Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva. He has rejected the authoritarian socialism of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez. A former journalist with degrees from the University of Kansas and Harvard, he values free media and independent courts. His biggest priority may be ratifying and implementing a free-trade agreement between Colombia and the United States.

So the question raised by Mr. Santos's election is whether the Obama administration and Democratic congressional leaders will greet this strong and needed U.S. ally with open arms -- or with the arms-length disdain and protectionist stonewalling to which they subjected his predecessor, Álvaro Uribe.

Mr. Uribe will leave office in August as one of the most successful presidents in modern Latin American history, though you would never know it from listening to his critics in Washington. He beefed up Colombia's army and economy, and smashed the terrorist FARC movement; murders have fallen by 45 percent and kidnappings by 90 percent during his eight years in office. Though most Colombians wanted him to remain in power, he bowed to a Supreme Court ruling against a referendum on a third term -- which means that unlike Mr. Chávez, he will leave behind a strong democratic system.
 
Read more here.
 
Semana International delivers news about Colombia in English. Find more in our home.
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