World Democracy Day: Colombia, on the verge of becoming a regime

Can we seriously consider a country in which political leaders die daily, more corruption scandals are uncovered and media outlets censored, like a true democracy?

Nariño Palace in Bogotá.

Nariño Palace in Bogotá. / Via REUTERS

LatinAmerican Post | Christopher Ramírez

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Leer en español: Día Mundial de la Democracia: Colombia, al borde de convertirse en un régimen

This September 15 marks the International Day of Democracy, endorsed by the United Nations Organization (UN), a day of great relevance that serves to remind, according to this international entity, “that democracy must focus on the people".

A poor democracy

Now, it is no secret to anyone that this item in Colombia is not the best, as demonstrated and explained by the World Democracy Index (IDM) prepared by the Intelligence Unit of The Economist (EIU).

According to the EIU, by 2018 (year of the last report), democracy in Colombia could be considered as a deficient one, only reaching 6.96 points out of 10 possible. That is to say, the Colombian State “(…) has free and fair elections and, even if there are problems (such as violations of the freedom of the media), basic civil liberties are respected. However, there are significant weaknesses in other aspects of democracy, including governance issues, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation. ”

With all this, according to the index, only 0.96 points separate Colombia from being considered a 'Hybrid Regime', or what is the same, a country with an almost null democracy.

Among the hybrid regimes in Latin America are El Salvador, Bolivia or Haiti, all below the 6 points in the IDM. For the EIU, a hybrid regime is one in which “corruption tends to be widespread and the rule of law is weak. Civil society is weak. In general, there is harassment and pressure on journalists, and the judiciary is not independent. ”

Sadly, this is what Colombia has been approaching in recent years.

Corruption in Colombia

The endless number of corrupt plans that are developed within the political culture are heard daily in the media, becoming a “generalized” problem in the country.

Illegal concessions in the construction of roads (Odebrecht and Carrusel de la Contratación), health robberies (Hemophilia and AIDS cartels), embezzlement of the food budget of low-income children, deposit of large sums of money to landowners The country's powerful (Agroingreso Seguro) and electoral fraud (buying votes) are some of the scandals that have been uncovered in Colombia, only in the last decade.

Likewise, corruption in Colombia has resulted in crime, which in turn has taken refuge in drug trafficking, financed by large political groups in the country. This is the center of a war that has resulted in, so far, 837 civilians killed (social leaders and former FARC guerrillas), from January 2016 to May 2019; this according to information from the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz).

To this list are also added the six candidates for regional elections on October 27 that, according to El Espectador, since July 27 have been killed in war-torn territories such as Cauca, the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, Antioquia and Norte de Santander, the border with Venezuela.

Of course, these numbers reflect that very little "basic civil liberties" of Colombian political leaders are respected and that the elections of this 2019 are at risk before a Colombian society conforming to corruption and death.

“It gives the impression that nothing touches us or outrages us, and that we have become accustomed to the perversion being our natural state. We are sinking in a swamp of rot and it is as if nothing happens. (...) This has become manure. It hurts. It hurts to say it, but it stinks, ”the experienced journalist Juan Gossaín wrote in the newspaper El Tiempo in 2017.

Read also: World Democracy Index: 55% of the world has no real participation

Freedom of opinion

Another of the strengths and that is related to the issue of corruption, is the censorship observed in the media. An example of this is what happened in recent weeks with Noticias Uno, which, for many sectors of Colombian society, is the only independent newscast in the country.

Although it has been insisted on many occasions that the cancellation of this information is related to economic problems within the Channel One, the truth is that you can not cover the Sun with a finger. News One has been the stone in the shoe of several political forces that, without a doubt, have put their grain of sand to get rid of a 'monster' that prevented them from continuing to commit a crime.

It should be noted that, although this problem is not the worst of the evils in Colombia, if it is increasing and silently, especially with the partialization of information.

Some of the most important journalists in the country have dedicated themselves to defending ideologies and politicians, both from the right and from the left, leaving aside their true role in society: being the fourth power, the one who opposes the authority and defends the right to the total and free information of the citizens.

Many will say that this is not censorship. Censorship is the fact of totally prohibiting the reproduction of some content, because it directly or indirectly attacks someone's personal interests; But, overestimating the role of a politician in the way that great Colombian journalists do, highlighting the "good" over the "bad" is not another way of censorship in a country?

With all this (corruption, zero security guarantees for leaders and censorship of the media), I dare to ask the current Government what are they doing to improve democratic conditions in Colombia? Well, although the original plan was to get as far away from Venezuelan reality as possible, today we are getting closer and closer.