Colombia’s fragile democracy ‘deserves to be protected’


“With Petro I’d be concerned about good governance, whether he will be able to be a good manager, but I would not worry for democracy itself,” analyst Laura Gil, director of La Línea del Medio, observed of the leftist candidate Gustavo Petro prior to Colombia’s recent presidential election.

Petro has surprised observers by criticizing Nicaragua’s authoritarian drift that, in his words, has turned into a climate of “repression against opponents and political prisoners.

“If he wins, we are in for four turbulent years” said Gil, also a political scientist at Bogota’s Javeriana University. “He will have to prove that his leftist movement is willing to operate within the rules of democracy and control the most radical members of his coalition, while facing right-wing groups that will make every effort to block his proposals.”

“Petro has good ideas, but he also had good ideas when he was mayor and had a hard time implementing anything or even building a team to work with. This is what should worry us about Petro, not of him turning Colombia into another Venezuela,” she wrote for AS/COA’s Americas Quarterly. “The fragile democracy we have, as fragile as it is, still deserves to be protected.”

And she now has the opportunity to do so.

Colombian Foreign Minister, Álvaro Leyva Durán, has appointed Gil as the new Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stressing her “practice in the defense of human rights, peaceful conflict resolution and peace building and peacekeeping,” according to reports.

A political scientist of Colombian-Uruguayan nationality, in 2019 Gill received the Simón Bolívar Award for radio opinion with a podcast on Venezuela, note observers:

She previously received the Círculo de Periodistas de Bogotá (CPB) award for a series of columns on the ruling of the International Court of Justice Nicaragua vs. Colombia, the Law and Democracy Medal from the Colombian Press Society in 2015 and the 2017 Álvaro Gómez Hurtado Award for best opinion column. She was a 2015 Draper Hills Fellow at Stanford University and a 2019-2020 National Endowment for Democracy Fellow.

Gil had been working as director of the opinion portal ‘La Línea del Medio’, having previously served as director of Diálogos y Estrategias, a Bogota-based group dedicated to supporting public policies that further human rights, reconciliation, and post-conflict reconstruction.

The newly-elected Petro, has criticized the political violence perpetrated by the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. In Nicaragua there is an authoritarian drift that has turned into a climate of “repression against opponents and political prisoners,” he said in his first interview as president-elect with the Colombian magazine CAMBIO.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email