THE WASHINGTON POST | 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.
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.
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