May 28, 2006 [LINK]

Uribe wins landslide reelection

Colombia's hard-line anti-terrorist president Alvaro Uribe won about 62 percent of the vote, far more than was needed to avoid a second-round contest. Carlos Gaviria, of the Liberal Party [ ], came in second with 22 percent. Uribe won in 31 of the 33 provinces, and among overseas Colombian voters. There was no interference from either of the guerrilla groups, FARC and ELN. The civil war is far from being over, but there are many sings of vast improvement since Uribe was inaugurated nearly four years ago. The number of violent deaths and kidnappings has dropped sharply, and in the cities at least, it is now almost safe enough for tourists. The main trouble spot is the continued strength of the right wing militias, who are not accountable to any legal authority. See BBC and El Tiempo (in Spanish).

Although Colombia is in many ways one of the most "typical" of Latin American countries, it has usually followed a separate path from the rest of the countries in the region. It remained democratic while nearly all of the others were taken over by military officers in the 1960s and 1970s, and it avoided the hyperinflation and debt crises that most other dealt with in the 1980s. While other countries in South America turn sharply toward the left, Colombia maintains a clear conservative course. The appeal of left-wing politics is very low in a country where leftists routinely murder innocent civilians with terrorist bombs.