Could Colombia Be The "Next Venezuela"?

LatinAmerican Post analyzes whether or not Colombia can be the "next Venezuela".

Colombian flag behind a statue of Simón Bolívar

Photo: Pixabay

LatinAmerican Post | Christopher Ramírez Hernández

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Leer en español: ¿Puede Colombia ser la "próxima Venezuela"?

Álvaro Uribe is one of the politicians who sees with fear the possibility that "Colombia could be a new Venezuela", given the possible arrival of the leader of the left, Gustavo Petro, to the Presidency of this country, in the elections of the next May 29.

Since the late 1990s, through the so-called 'Bolivarian Revolution', the radical left has ruled Venezuelans under what some consider to be a Chavismo-led socialist regime.

However, as columnist Pablo Stefanoni stated in one of his opinion articles, “Venezuela ended up being a political weight for the left, increasingly and better exploited by the right to build ghosts of 'Venezuelanization'”.

Currently, Venezuela is the victim of hyperinflation in which the minimum wage of citizens (which is only 28.9 dollars) is not enough to cover even 8% of the cost of the family basket, according to the Venezuelan Finance Observatory ( OVF). This has made the Venezuelan migration crisis worsen, according to figures from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with more than 6 million refugees and migrants.

Now, how true is the thesis of the critics of the Colombian left that it could make this country the next Venezuela?

To begin with, it is important to say that, both in Venezuela and in Colombia, the groups with this ideology have similar thoughts on most issues, although in the midst of these there is also a duality of worldviews that offer clear differences between one left or the other.

Decentralization in each country

Thus, although both manage what is known as a "decentralization" of the country, which for Venezuela is a "new national geopolitics (...) that implies a total change in the cities", based on the infrastructure of the nation, for leftists in Colombia, this phenomenon should be of a much more administrative nature, so that it is the regions that can have control over the decisions that affect their own territory, and not Bogotá (the country's capital).

"We are going to propose a decentralized government, so we are going to have many offices in the regions of the country, where the government is built from the most forgotten territories," said Francia Márquez, Petro's vice-presidential formula, during one of his visits to Medellín .

Anti-imperialism: yes or no?

On the other hand, there is a crucial point in the Latin American left that Hugo Chávez knew how to reproduce to the maximum in Venezuela: anti-imperialism and the fight against the oligarchies.

From the Venezuelan national government they are clear about this concept : "In the international arena, our nation wages an anti-imperialist struggle and contributes to the formation of the multicentric and multipolar world" , in which, mainly, it is the United States, and its international allies, the main enemies; Of course, any kind of support shown by the “more favored” national groups to this 'empire', will also be seen as a threat to the sovereignty of the nation and to the revolution as such.

In the case of Colombia, specifically, in the performance of Gustavo Petro, the most radical leftists assure that, although the anti-oligarchy struggle has been clear, the truth is that the anti-imperialist struggle has been a task that this politician owes.

This is how the Colombian anthropologist and essayist, Alberto Pinzón Sánchez , who in the early 2000s participated in the peace negotiations between the government of Andrés Pastrana and the FARC, puts it in an opinion column: “the Anti-Imperialist aspect ( …) has been ideologically and politically veiled not only in its innovative and alternative programmatic proposals (those of Petro), but also in its general approaches”.

Although Petro says he is in favor of renegotiating the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States, assuring that it is necessary to build "food security on the basis of internal production", for the most critical this does not reflect a radical anti-imperialist position such as that of Venezuela.

YOU CAN ALSO READ: Will Gustavo Petro Be Able To Emulate The European Pension Systems In Colombia?


Stick with oil?

Another issue to take into account is the environment-energy relationship, raised by both lefts and which is perhaps the greatest of their dilemmas. While the Bolivarian Government proposes "to create an economic model of development, with an expanding oil industry that allows creating a sustainable base, to develop other industries", the Petro government's plan dictates something totally opposite, stating that "oil and coal are polluting ballasts of the past”.

“We will progressively change the energies we use in industry, commerce and in our homes (…) This transition (…) will take us from oil, gas and coal today, to solar, wind, geothermal and tidal energy, among others”, dictates the document.


Importance of women and LGBTI diversity

Among other issues to take into account are also the strengthening of women as protagonists of their own reality and respect for LGBTI diversity. The first can be seen, in both cases, from one of the portfolios in the national government: while in Venezuela there is already a Ministry of People's Power for Women and Gender Equality, in Colombia, Petro wishes to create a similar one called Ministry of Equality.

However, the second issue also raises conflicts between both lefts since, in Venezuela gender diversity is not something that is taken into account (because not only is marriage between people of the same sex prohibited, but it is also illegal for a 'trans' person to change their identity), the country project of Petro and the left he leads aims to recognize that "the sexual diversity of a society is possible only from freedom and democracy ( …) Either democracy is multicolored or it is not democracy, it is tyranny”.