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Jun 18, 2018 | 17:18 GMT

3 mins read

Colombia: The New President's New Policies

(Stratfor)
The Big Picture

Colombia's peace process isn't complete yet. The country's next president, Ivan Duque, will take charge of fully implementing the government's peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. And despite his proposal to modify some elements of the deal, he will face major legal and congressional roadblocks. On other policies, however, he will have an easier time making progress, such as in attempts to slow down trade negotiations.

Colombia has just completed its first presidential election since the country's government signed a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in September 2016. The right-wing candidate from the Democratic Center party, Ivan Duque, will take office August 7. During his campaign, Duque explicitly said he would attempt to make changes in the government's peace deal with the FARC. More specifically, Duque said he will try to modify the clause that gives amnesty to FARC members who were involved in drug trafficking — but that's easier said than done.

To fulfill his campaign promise and change the peace deal, Duque would have to pass a constitutional amendment, which requires a congressional majority. For that, Duque will have to negotiate for support from other political parties. And even if he negotiates successfully, FARC members could still attempt to block the changes by appealing to the country's supreme court. Alternatively, Duque could attempt to gain a mandate through referendum on whether to change the peace deal, or he could order the country's security forces to increase investigations into FARC's top leadership. Still, none of these options can guarantee the results Duque wants.

The bottom line is that if the FARC peace deal is significantly modified and ELN negotiations are suspended, then Colombia's energy infrastructure will be under threat from an uptick in attacks.

In addition to the FARC deal, negotiations for an additional peace agreement with the National Liberation Army (ELN) could be under threat. Duque has favored suspending the talks if the ELN doesn't fully cease its criminal activities and attacks. But if the negotiations fail, that will likely increase the number of ELN attacks on Colombia's oil pipelines and electricity towers. The bottom line is that if the FARC peace deal is significantly modified and ELN negotiations are suspended, then Colombia's energy infrastructure will be under threat from an uptick in attacks, particularly in the country's southwestern and northeastern regions.

Duque's victory also has implications for Colombia's ongoing trade negotiations. Duque is unlikely to revise existing trade agreements, such as the one proposed by left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro, but he may slow down the pace of ongoing negotiations. This is especially true of trade talks with Japan and Turkey, where there is opposition from Colombia's industrial and agricultural sectors.

As president, Duque won't be able to achieve all of his goals. But the choices he makes, particularly in implementing his country's peace deal with the FARC, will shape Colombia for years to come.

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