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Wednesday, 29 May, 2002, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
Colombian election: Your reaction
Colombia's presidential election has been won by a right-winger who has offered to talk peace with the armed groups fighting in the country's bloody civil war.

Alvaro Uribe, a 49-year-old lawyer, won a landslide victory on an independent ticket, securing more than 53% of the vote.

It marked the first time in the country's history that an outright victory has been won in the first round of voting.

Mr Uribe had pledged during the campaign that he would get tough with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which have put a large contract out on his life and have tried to assassinate him three times in the last six months.

But on Sunday he appeared ready to consider negotiations with the rebels on bringing about a peace settlement.

What is your reaction to the outcome of the Colombian presidential election? Can the new president bring about change in Colombia?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction

With 53% of the electorate behind him Uribe has a strong mandate to break the cycle of war caused by FARC, ELN and AUC. With the backing of America an end to Colombia's troubles may be on the horizon.
Rishi, England

Some sixty years ago, an English Prime Minister proudly announced to his people: "Peace in our time"... We all know what happened shortly after: war had to be bought to bring lasting peace to a continent... Some things never change. Good luck to the new Colombian President and the Colombian people.
Alice, UK

Uribe's history as governor of Antioquia department, under which the fascist bands of the AUC flourished and massacres became common, gives no grounds for hope. Neither does the fact that the AUC congratulated his victory. This is a government of the rich, for the rich. His election will mean more paramilitaries, more massacres and more misery for the people who overwhelmingly didn't vote at all. There will now either be revolution or the "peace" of the graveyard.
Anon, Britain

I am glad that we have finally found someone we Colombians can be proud of. I am proud we Colombians were wise enough to choose this rather simple, sincere, intelligent and balanced character to lead our country out of its decadent descent. Our newly elected president will, at last, give back to Colombia its righteous place in the international community. We are going to be facing tough times ahead, no doubt. But we will face them gladly, for we are going to be led for the first time in a long, long time by someone bold enough to challenge violence and corruption under countless threats, and come out the cleanest winner our country has ever had in an electoral campaign.
Javier Otoya, Colombia


I, too, hope to be able to go back some day without looking over my shoulder at every corner

Jorge Alonso, Georgia, USA
Colombia has come to a crossroad: either it strives to survive by fighting its enemies or it succumbs taking many with it. It is really a shame that such a beautiful country finds itself in this situation. Attacked by its own people, virtually isolated by its neighbours and forgotten by many of its "friends". I strongly believe that Uribe's plan of using authority to establish order is the only way to save one of the most beautiful and controversial countries in the world. After all, today's rulers (USA, UK, France, Germany, Japan, etc) had to apply the same method to succeed. My best wishes to Mr. Uribe and to all the Colombians who are still in our country. I, too, hope to be able to go back some day without looking over my shoulder at every corner.
Jorge Alonso, Georgia, USA

Mr. Uribe's close ties to the Colombian paramilitaries and the support his candidacy received from the Bush Administration only strengthens suspicions that the U.S. "war-on-drugs" is, sadly, more about oil and natural resources and that Mr. Uribe's US-backed presidency will mean little in the way of peace for the long-suffering Colombian people.
Brian, USA

The persistence of the BBC in referring to the action of some 15-20,000 guerrilla against 35 million of population as a "civil war" attributes vestiges of legitimacy to these thugs. They have only their own opaque interests and illusions at heart. Of course the political system here is corrupt, as in every other country, the UK included. Does that justify murder and kidnapping on the present unprecedented scale? Moreover, your description of these thugs as being of either "left wing" or "right wing" persuasion presumes that they actually have political agenda, or that such agenda might actually merit reasoned debate; neither is the case.
Dr Martin Keeley, Colombia

Uribe will not bring peace or solutions to Colombia, but we hope that his government will create the principles on which a new republic can be born again; a prosperous and rich country like Bolivar wanted for us.
Darwin, Colombia

He is likely to beat the FARC as he will have the full might of the US behind him. But this will simply shift the balance of power to the right wing paramilitaries who will have even more free reign to terrorise the population and grow rich from the drugs trade. Colombia needs someone like Chavez: close enough to the people to gain their trust but tough enough to stand up to the landowners, drug barons and the US.
Charles Moore, Scotland


It is about time my people elected a responsible leader

Alberto, Colombia
It is about time my people elected a responsible leader with a serious and flawless track record. His platform for "security first" is the most important step for Colombia. People in Colombia are sick of the terrorist acts committed by the "narco-terrorists" against the local population, because in fact all types of terrorists are the same and cause damage to innocent people. After these criminal groups are eliminated, then Colombia will dedicate its resources towards social and economic programs that are needed to get this beautiful country back on its feet. The international community can contribute to Colombia's cause by advancing intense drug-consumption prevention programs, because in fact this is a two front war. We will do the fighting and bleeding and you prevent people from consuming drugs!
Alberto, Colombia

I read somewhere a Colombian citizen saying that his country is so beautiful that it is populated by the most evil men in the world as a balance. It is a pity for the whole country that the war still rages on causing continued massacres, displacement and misery for its people. It would be wonderful if Uribe could put an end to the civil war, but I very much doubt it. Firstly, the gulf between rich and poor is at its widest in Colombia. Unless there is massive social spending from the government, the ravaged, dirt-poor countryside will always supply a stream of disaffected people in to the ranks of FARC. Secondly, the right-wing paramilitaries, in every way as barbaric and bloodthirsty as FARC, will have to be crushed, or else they will remain free to terrorise the population with impunity.
John G, London, UK

Pastrana gave peace a chance, but with Uribe be prepared for "gunboat" engagement. Leftists appear to enjoy the lucrative drug trade at the expense of sharing power in a democratic way. Uribe is poised to strike at them with the fire power at his disposal thanks to the American airboats. Peace for Colombia can only come now or never.
Nunka Santiago, Canada

I see this victory as Colombia's only hope of solving the current internal violence. Our problems (drugs and poverty) are more than just our own - they're global concerns. Anyone that has had the opportunity to visit Colombia knows the positive aspects that it has to offer.
John, Colombia


Stronger military action against Colombia's various criminal insurgents can only be seen as part of the solution

Carl, England
Because the previous administration's peace overtures failed so dramatically, it's neither surprising nor disappointing that the new administration is opting for a more heavy-handed approach. But stronger military action against Colombia's various criminal insurgents can only be seen as part of the solution. The dire poverty suffered by much of Colombia's population needs to be addressed with investment in education, communications, and employment opportunities. The corruption and bias in the political and legal systems must be reversed. Of course, these things will be easier if security and stability are brought to the country, but they must not be forgotten no matter what happens.
Carl, England

Mr Uribe is the best president Colombia could wish for. He is a very honest man with a huge ambition to help Colombians find peace. Good luck to him. But he needs the international community to help him.
Isabelle, France/UK

Pastrana gave the FARC a chance to move towards a peaceful conclusion to the conflict. Instead they consolidated their power and increased their campaign of violence and terror. What other choice does Colombia now have?
Leon Beckenham, England

Cheers to Reza in Iran. The rest of you "armchair experts" are doing nothing for them with your pessimism. Colombians chose this man; shut up and give him a chance.
Jennifer Ethington, NJ, USA

All Colombians love their beautiful country. They are very eager and deserve a peaceful life. I am sure President Uribe is a very wise and capable man, who possesses the ability to bring peace and prosperity back to Colombia.
Reza Nezami, Iran

It is about time the control of the two dominant parties has finally been broken. Let's hope Uribe delivers on the promises of freeing the country of the FARC, AUC and ELN.
Anon, UK


Uribe shows tremendous courage to stand up after terrorists assassinated his father

Lee Webb, Colorado, USA
Maybe this is the way to fight terrorism. Our leaders should group fundamentalists, drug dealers and common criminals all together as one element. All ordinary people want is to be left alone, to make a life for themselves, without having to worry about criminals and violence. Mr Uribe shows tremendous courage to stand up after brutish terrorists assassinated his father. I applaud him.
Lee Webb, Colorado, USA

Unless the drugs trade and the associated corruption which have reached epidemic proportions in Colombian society are eradicated then nothing will change. Money will always buy protection for the criminal elements from whatever forces Uribe puts in place to eradicate them.
Peter Grimes, Gerrards Cross, England

Maybe, at long last, there will be some semblance of political stability in Colombia. Good luck to everybody involved.
Diasy, England


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