On May 27th, Colombian citizens cast their ballots to elect their next president, with the result producing no majority winner and thus sparking a run-off vote. As is the case during political campaigns these days, numerous political strategies and narratives have been pushed by the media and are proliferating on social networks. Prior to the second round, which takes place on June 17th, I wanted to share a few observations.
santos nato colombia

"I'm leaving, but nothing's changing, so go ahead and vote!"
One theme in particular has been rather prominent. For years now, comparing Colombia to Venezuela, and scaring the population into thinking "well, we don't want to end up with a Chavez or a Maduro" has been a popular political sales pitch.

Given the campaign promises and political origins of some of the candidates, the possibility of taking the country towards a socialist system - which would be a first for Colombia - might in other circumstances be a credible scenario. However, there are subtle (and not so subtle) details that make such a radical change in the the country's ultra-Yankee outlook quite impossible.

Whether Gustavo Petro, presidential candidate for 'Colombia Humana', or the polls' favorite, conservative Ivan Duque Marquez, wins, the result will be overshadowed by something which occurred just before the elections, on May 26th, when the Colombian government announced a momentous decision. Not much has been said about it in the press even though it firmly indicates what the country can expect, regardless of who is elected.

I'm talking about the announcement by president Juan Manuel Santos, which was made with a certain pride and a little bit of bragging while on his way out the door: "Next week, we will formalize Colombia's entry into NATO". This means that the country will be the only 'global partner' of the 'anti-communist' bloc in Latin America, sharing this 'honor' with countries like Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand and Pakistan - all of whom, according to the organization, "actively contribute to the operations and missions directed by NATO."

And so Colombians are voting in an election that supposedly gives them a voice on the direction they'd like their country to take. But if Colombia - as a member of the world's only military alliance - no longer has independent military and security policy, then Colombian voters have no means to seek pacific relations with their neighbors, especially those who may, for one reason or another, in future not be aligned with Washington's interests.

The situation in Venezuela became rather complicated recently with an election that many countries in the region did not recognize, including Uncle Sam, and which the opposition decided to boycott - a move that apparently leaves Maduro further isolated from 'the international community' (read: Pax Americana). As regime change is very much on the cards there, Colombia's sell-out to NATO is an ominous sign for regional stability.