Iván Duque Márquez assumed the presidency of Colombia in August 2018, thus becoming the youngest president in the country’s history. He was 42 years old and had won the elections representing the Democratic Center after a second round in which earned the trust of more than 10 million citizens. He surpassed his opponent, Gustavo Petro, who had belonged to the defunct M-19 guerrilla and was the leader of the Colombia Humana party, which added 8 million votes, the highest figure obtained by a defeated candidate.
Duque will turn 45 on August 1 and he will have one remaining in the presidency. He will have nothing more to celebrate in the worst year of his mandate, with the country mobilized from south to north as never before in protest against the decisions of his government and in which the pandemic caused by Covid-19 has not served to stop the anger and despair of Colombians.
Lawyer, writer and politician, married and father of three children, with the only international experience of having represented his country in the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) from 2001 to 2013, Duque is living under the fire of a Colombia that bleeds from injuries caused by drug trafficking, guerrillas, paramilitaries and political corruption. A country that adds almost all the plagues of the world and where a president with his own weight, waist and political stem was urgent.
After the great marches experienced in 2019, Duque is suffering the most dramatic moment in his third year in office. The people have risen up against him after he wanted to apply a tax reform which he ended up resigning a few days before accepting the resignation of his finance minister.
None of your decisions It has managed to calm the spirits nor has it prevented Colombians from declaring themselves since last April 28 in national strike, with daily riots and blockades on the main roads and highways that are leaving many cities without food or basic necessities. The country is experiencing an unsustainable situation, which has led US congressmen to protest the brutality used by the police against protesters, mostly young people, and which has caused, according to some sources, many disappeared and more than twenty deaths.
Duque did not believe in the Peace Agreement with the FARC left to him by his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018), and today there are many dissidents who have chosen to return to the mountains and to arms, and many more social leaders murdered. Perhaps because of the influence exerted on him by former president Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), his friend, and one of the voices that most supported him on the road to the presidency and assisted him in the execution of many of his disputed and protested decisions. The dependency reaches the point that many consider Duque a ‘puppet’ of Uribe.
“Former President Uribe has an influence on the government that, although difficult to measure, only accentuates Duque’s image of weakness.” This is how Marco Schwartz thinks, until a year ago director of El Heraldo de Barranquilla, the most important newspaper on the Atlantic Coast. “Duque wanted his term to be remembered as the one that propelled the country to modernity and advanced its equity, but it is likely that he will go down in history as the one who faced the bloodiest protest in its recent history,” adds Schwartz..
Oblivious to reality
Among the books written by Duque there is one entitled ‘IndignAcción’, in which he makes a series of proposals for actions to build the Colombia of the future. Surely, the president never imagined that the indignation would turn against him, which supports the theory that many of his critics proclaim, who accuse Duque of being the clear example of a wrong man who is in the wrong place, and blame his errors due to his inability to lead and living outside of reality.
Duque did not believe in the peace agreement with the FARC and today there are many dissidents who have returned to the mountains
“The position required character to decide, intelligence to attract the most capable collaborators and daring to dare to offer imaginative solutions. Duque lacks his own electoral support and owes everything to Uribe. In short, a mediocre surrounded by mediocre people and controlled by a leader as powerful as he is dangerous. Colombia is a 747 in the middle of a hurricane and Duque, the pilot, is a cyclist ». These are the words of Daniel Samper Pizano, writer and journalist, and brother of former President Ernesto Samper (1994-1998).
Nor does Alfredo Sabbagh, journalist and professor-researcher on audiovisual media, television and new technologies at the Universidad del Norte, on the Caribbean Coast, which was recently threatened by ultra groups, is sympathetic to the president. «The few expectations generated by the mandate of the young man anointed by the Democratic Center were quickly hidden with an agenda sculpted at the end of the rear-view mirror, directed guilt and zero self-criticism. Duque was never able to connect with a divided society that, and look at the paradoxes of history, converges in seeing him as ‘Uribe’s errand boy’ ».
The protests, criticism, the excessive use of police force and the situation in the country, which is a victim of poverty that affects more than 21 million inhabitants of the almost 50 that Colombia has – plus unemployment of 16.8% – has led President Iván Duque to register disapproval levels of 76% (the past February was 59%), following a poll published on May 21 by Invamer Poll. It has also cost him the resignation of the High Commissioner for Peace, Miguel Ceballos, due to Álvaro Uribe’s interference in the tasks of his position. There is nothing good to remember in Duque’s history as president of Colombia.