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But how close is she to what Mario Vargas Llosa called a perfect dictatorship? But an election does not a democracy make. Neither would be judged well against the ideals of the British, and then the French and American revolutions.
For Vargas Llosa, the Mexican state was for all intents and purposes as illiberal and undemocratic as the rest of Latin America. Here he is setting out the case. I am struck by the parallels with Colombia.
In Colombia I see a similar reality where it is not of political party that remains in power, but instead a political elite. Following the military dictatorship of Rojas Pinillathe Conservative and Liberal elites decided to alternate power during what was known as the National Front So the Conservatives were given four years, the Liberals the following four, and so on.
The colour of the president would change, but power was shared. It mattered not a jot in terms of policy or even personnel as the same people were recycled in different cabinet and top bureaucratic posts. After the National Front, Colombia returned to open elections where Conservatives were pitched against Liberals only these two parties were allowed to compete.
But the logic of the National Front continued until Virgilio Barco inwith the victors building coalitions with the defeated. A blue president would pick a partly red cabinet.
All this meant that Colombians were only ever sold the appearance of a choice, there was no worthwhile way of expressing a democratic will against the regime. Whatever the election result, any difference in outcome was imperceptible. The important thing for the ruling class was to prevent the development of any threat to their rule.
Starting with Jorge Eliecer Gaitan killed on 9 Aprilan event that sparked La Violenciathe joint, sometimes alongside paramilitaries, drug cartels, etc role of the state in the murder of a litany of popular, populist and anti-oligarchical presidential candidates Jaramillo, Pizarro, Galan…is well documented.
Take President Santos, a man born into this governing elite. When Santos came to power he hastily built a coalition of the Conservatives, the Liberals, and the two main parties that split from them as a result of the reforms of ; Cambio Radical and The U Party.
So to that extent, he has brought back the idea of the National Front. If you were being kind, you would call this Big Tent politics.
Of course this is less malign than a dictatorship, but it is a sort of totalitarianism-light. The Santos regime is built on the very principle of power sharing, of co-opting opponents with cabinet positions, lucrative jobs in government or industry bodies, or even in plum diplomatic posts in Madrid, Washington, or London.
Colombians are acutely aware that they are governed by an elite. While the PRI may well have been able to co-opt the intellectuals, and to mute opposition, Colombia has been at war for 50 years although in reality it stretches back further precisely because the governing class has failed to disguise the nature of its exclusionary politics; they are obvious to all.
Perversely though, it has been arguably even more successful in keeping its bum on the throne. Mr Vargas Lleras is favourite to win the presidency in Noun. He was consumed by lust. He was driven by a lust for power. Lust for chocolate drew her into the candy store. Want to boost your conversions by % just by sprinkling a few words into your copy?
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