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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Maybe, at long last, there will be some semblance of political stability in Colombia. Good luck to everybody involved.
27 May 02 | Americas
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