Juan Manuel Santos won the Colombia election yesterday with 69
percent of the vote - a clear mandate to continue the security
policies of his predecessor Alvaro Uribe. But he also inherits Uribe-
In Colombia's presidential elections on Sunday, Juan Manuel
Santos secured an overwhelming mandate to continue the strong
security policies of his popular predecessor, Alvaro Uribe. "This is
also your victory, President Uribe," said Mr. Santos, calling him
one of the "best presidents" in Colombia's history.
But in order to lead effectively, Santos must quickly stamp his
own mark on government, political analysts say. In particular, he
must address the concerns of millions who voted for runner-up
Antanas Mockus, a former mayor of Bogota promising change in
Colombia's corrupt political culture that led to numerous scandals
"The time has come for national unity, the time has come for
harmony, the time has come for us to work together for the
prosperity of Colombia," Santos told a crowd of cheering supporters
gathered in a sports stadium in Bogota. He won 69 percent of the
vote, while Mr. Mockus, running on the Green Party ticket, won 27.5
In a preelection interview, Santos said his government would be
different from Uribe's in priorities and style. Uribe's folksy
manner won Colombians over in weekly town hall meetings throughout
the country where he would micromanage even the smallest problems
presented to him. Santos, from an elite Bogota family, prefers to
"I rely on teamwork," he said.
But just a new approach won't be enough, says Eric Farnsworth,
vice president of the Council of the Americas.
"[Santos] is going to have to show that while he follows the
general course that Uribe has set, he is not beholden to Uribe," he
Investigations into Uribe-era scandals
Though a proud heir to Uribe's successes on the security and
investment fronts, Santos inherits the burden of scandals that
tarnished Uribe's two terms as president.
Prosecutors are investigating more than 2,000 cases of
extrajudicial executions by government forces accused of killing
innocent civilians and presenting them as battlefield deaths, and
the civilian intelligence agency known as DAS is under investigation
for illegal wiretap and surveillance of opposition figures in a
scandal that US human rights groups have labeled "worse than
"Santos is not going to be able to escape the scandals that
marred Uribe's rule," says Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-
American Dialogue think tank in Washington. "He'll have to take them
on and distance himself from them."
It was weariness with such scandals that boosted his rival,
Mockus, a former university rector, whose campaign mantras referred
to the "sanctity" oflife, legality, and public funds.
Shifter warns that Santos's overwhelming win should not mean he
disregards Mockus's message of transparency, legitimacy, and
legality that managed to capture the imagination of millions of
"Even though the election [wasn't] close, he's got to take the
Mockus phenomenon seriously because it shows there are a lot of
people concerned about corruption and scandals," he says. "People
voted for him because they are scared to go with Mockus but Santos
has got to tackle these issues and make them his issues."
Apparently understanding that, Santos said on Sunday night that
Mockus had gotten Colombia to "think about the value of life, the
value of transparency and legality. …