The Real Authoritarian Trend in Latin America

Oposicion Politica Colombiana

Western media, especially in the United States, have been mercilessly beating drums for regime change supplemented by devastating United States government imposed economic sanctions in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, allegedly in the name of defending democracy and promoting liberty.  United States efforts have, in large part, been implemented with the connivance and assistance of United States proxies, the Republics of Colombia and Brazil, both now led by authoritarian right wing governments eager to surrender their countries’ natural resources to whomever the United States and the global neoliberal order selects.  Obviously that does not sit well with their populations who have recently realized they were deluded in recent elections through fear mongering and electoral manipulation which they now seem powerless to resist.  The good old days of Washington dominance seems reborn, this time much better organized to avoid the return of progressive populism such as that once instilled by the likes of Hugo Chavez, Pepe Mujica, Rafael Correa, Evo Morales and others.  The Ugly American is back, regardless of which major political party rules from Washington.

In Colombia this has been made devastatingly clear as former president Alvaro Uribe Velez, through proxies (being constitutionally inhibited from direct reelection) has solidified dictatorial control over all of that country’s political and judicial bodies.  They, in turn, using tortured legalistic tactics unequally applied, have virtually emasculated the political opposition, making it virtually impossible for it to meaningfully participate in electoral contests for the foreseeable future.  While large scale corruption and human rights violations, including crimes of lèse-humanité by Uribe partisans, are obvious, impunity reigns.  The country’s attorney general has been exposed as a lynch pin in the international Odebrecht scandal (see “Colombia’s biggest corruption scandal gets more complicated”, the Economist, November 17, 2018) but remains firmly entrenched in power and together with most leading politicians formerly backed by Uribe, is apparently immune from any effective attempts at prosecution.  On the other hand, the leading figures of the political opposition have been removed from office in the Senate and House of representatives on obviously ludicrous grounds and the main opposition group in last year’s presidential elections, Colombia Humana, which garnered the second highest vote total in Colombian history, has been denied legal status to participate in next year’s departmental and local elections.  Venezuela, in the meantime, has a virulently active political opposition with a putsch leader having proclaimed himself as president although he has no power other than that provided by United States misdirection of international Venezuelan economic assets to his personal control, exacerbating rather than mitigating the Venezuelan humanitarian economic crisis.

All of the foregoing is blatantly obvious with little efforts to hide the relevant facts, that’s hardly necessary.  The “mainstream” media either merely ignores them especially in the xenophobic United States, or reports them colored in Deep State rhetoric.  For the most part, it’s way too busy chasing fantasies of Russian meddling everywhere to notice the irony or the real news.

So, about Colombia.

  • Antanas Mockus, the former mayor of Bogota, a runner up in the presidential election of 2010 and the candidate who received the second highest number of votes for election to the Colombian Senate has been removed by the Uribe controlled Council of State from his Senate seat purportedly because, since 2006, he has served as the registered agent for a non-profit organization granted government contracts, the Corpovisionarios Foundation, a think tank that since 2000 has engaged in research and consulting services relating to design and implementation of activities to promote and attain voluntary change in individual and collective behavior relevant to coexistence. Former Senator Mockus’ role with Corpovisionarios since 2006 was as an inactive participant; however, he has been a leading and vocal critic of administration abuses, including its inaction as thousands of civic and social leaders were murdered since the current administration assumed office in the latter half of 2018 (see “Consejo de Estado anula elección del senador Antanas Mockus”, Red+, April 4, 2019).
  • On April 24, 2019, the same Uribe controlled Council of State ordered the expulsion of opposition leader Angela Maria Robledo from the House of Representatives purportedly because during last year’s presidential elections in which she was the runner up for the vice presidency she was purportedly guilty of double militancy (e., simultaneous participation in two political parties). Ms. Robledo’s congressional seat was granted to her, not through a congressional election process, but rather, as a result of constitutionally mandated legislation approved last year (27 years late).  Such legislation, the Statute on the Opposition, requires, among other things, that the runner up in the election for president be granted a seat and full term in the Senate and the runner up in the election for vice president be granted a seat and full term in the House of Representatives.
  • Ironically and incoherently, the same Uribe controlled Council of State has ruled that Colombia Humana, the political movement led by Ms. Robledo and her running mate Gustavo Petro Urrego, the one which serves as a predicate for the claim she engaged in double militancy, lacks legal status to participate in departmental and local elections set for this year, or to receive the benefits assigned to opposition political parties under the recently enacted Statute of Political opposition.

The result in Colombia is that two of the country’s most prominent opposition leaders have been removed from office, the leading political opposition group in the country has been deprived of legal status, and thousands upon thousands of civic and social leaders have been murdered with impunity by paramilitary forces loyal to former president Uribe, while the current Colombian administration joins with the United States in demanding the removal of the Maduro government in neighboring Venezuela because of alleged dictatorial and antidemocratic tendencies.  The result is also that the Peace Accords negotiated and entered into between the Colombian State and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) which have been fully complied with only by the FARC are in danger of being marginalized as the de facto Uribe administration refuses to honor them, seeking to impose unilateral modifications that would shield Uribe partisans from responsibility for crimes against humanity and deprive the FARC of most important protections under the accords.

Brazil is not much better under dictatorship friendly, recently elected president, Jair Messias Bolsonaro, elected after a legislative – judiciary coup overthrew democratically elected president Dilma Rousseff and then barred popular former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from running by arresting, convicting and jailing him on trumped up charges of corruption.  As in Colombia, the right wing now in power is riddled with credible charges of corruption but enjoys virtual impunity through the corruption inherent in the highest levels of its judiciary.

Thus, as in so many other parts of the world, the United States and its bewilderingly incoherent mainstream media provide the narrative support necessary to maintain corruption in power, in the name of transparency, democracy and liberty, while seeking regime change everywhere that access to economic exploitation of a country’s natural resources is restricted.

The list is long, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, myriad African countries, the Ukraine, but the Americas most of all.

After all, tradition has to count for something.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2019; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen).  Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at and much of his writing is available through his blog at

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