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

Colombia and the world 2010, what an intense year!

This year will be remembered as one of the most dramatic and newsworthy in recent history.

2010 will be a year to remember. An intense year. A period of major change, shocking news and anxious moments. Newsrooms worked at full steam, and the public opinion was permanently surprised by several events which affected people’s daily lives given their magnitude and significance.

Natural tragedies were among the keynotes. The world became shocked at the very dawn of 2010 by the devastation caused by Haiti’s earthquake. The poorest country in the continent and one of the world’s most underdeveloped suffered huge losses. The natural phenomenon was merciless against its poor infrastructure, unresponsive institutions and a good-willed international cooperation with little chances to make aid effective. In Chile, another earthquake fueled even more fears about the backlash of nature. And the end of the year’s rainy season, especially in Colombia and Venezuela, ended a string of damage which affected the lives of millions of people.

The world had no rest. In the economic field, the expected recovery of the financial crisis that erupted a year ago in the United States was slow and timid: growth was poor and didn’t push employment to safer figures. Even worse were the ghosts of the crisis, which swarmed Europe, where the critical fiscal situations of Spain, Greece and Iceland unnerved markets at various opportunities. The political arena also kept stressed, especially in relation to Iran and North Korea’s policies in nuclear matters, and the obstacles that the U.S. found to change Afghanistan and Iraq’s course. Finally, in the information sphere, WikiLeaks blew U.S. diplomacy into a million pieces. Its publication of secret documents and confidential cables in the global network revealed unknown details about the leading world power’s behavior.

No less intense was 2010 for Colombia. A year with presidential elections. A period of change. The ruling of the Constitutional Court which prevented Alvaro Uribe’s second re-election paved the way for an unprecedented campaign, given the magnitude of Juan Manuel Santos’ victory, the level of participation and the high degree of competition among six candidates who met high standards. The battle was exciting and innovative in relation to electoral traditions: the televised debates were decisive, social networks fed the illusions of Antanas Mockus’ “green wave” and marketing reached high levels of sophistication. Santos made the difference with a strategy of continuity of the outgoing government’s policies, and Mockus relied too much on the votes of those who sought a change.

The excitement didn’t end on the elections day. The new government launched a continuity formula in the main issues -primarily, the fight against the FARC which produced the bombing against Mono Jojoy-, a change in style and an agenda that has diversified the political scenery and moved it towards the center. Such measures allowed Santos a second semester with both agile advances in Congress over a package of ambitious reforms and a similar popularity to the previous government’s.

2010 will also be remembered thanks to national diplomacy. And, paradoxically, thanks to both difficult days with Venezuela and to the subsequent normalization of relations with Hugo Chávez and Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador. Recent approaches were as intense as the tensions that produced Alvaro Uribe’s claims about the presence of FARC members in Venezuela.

In short, it was a high speed year. Colombian economy grew nearly 5 percent, beating previous projections. It remains to be seen how far will go the effects of floods and heavy rains on infrastructure, agriculture and the lives of more than two million homeless. Both the effectiveness of the government's response and its ability to manage aid resources will determine the true extent of damage in economy.

But if 12 months ago the year 2009 was dismissed as a lost and forgettable period of transition, 2010, on the contrary, will be a period whose consequences will keep alive for several years.

Read the special report in Spanish here.

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