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Colombia President Ivan Duque at April 22 Televised Address on Coronavirus Colombia President Ivan Duque at April 22 Televised Address on Coronavirus Source: Presidencia de Colombia

Colombia’s Governors, Mayors Overwhelmingly Support President Duque on Coronavirus Controls; but Bogota Mayor Starts Tilting at Windmills

Published in Editorial Written by  April 23 2020 font size decrease font size increase font size 0
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Colombia’s main trade associations for departmental governors and mayorships just endorsed what most Colombians view as President Ivan Duque’s rational, science-driven and politically reasonable handling of the Coronavirus crisis.

The National Federation of Departments (FND) and the Colombian Federation of Municipalities (FCM) on April 22 publicly endorsed President Duque’s mandatory quarantine extension through May 11 – along with a gradual, controlled restart of construction and manufacturing industries under strict health protocols.

In a joint letter, the groups praised what they termed as “successful handling that the President has given to the crisis generated by the Covid-19, protecting life and health, and preventing a pandemic of unemployment, hunger, poverty and recession from being generated,” according to FND and FCM.

Even more telling: the just-released EcoAnalytic/Guarumo poll of eligible Colombian voters (see Medellin Herald, 21 April 2020) found that 74.5% of voters endorse Duque’s handling of the Coronavirus crisis and 81.5% endorsed his mandatory quarantine policy -- while 63% of voters reject the continuing anti-Duque demagoguery of Senator Gustavo Petro, who lost to Duque in a landslide in the 2018 presidential election.

However: This EcoAnalytic/Guarumo poll also revealed that only 33.5% favor continuation of the Coronavirus quarantine beyond April 27, while 45.8% favor terminating the quarantine.

Reason: Employment is now the number-one worry, at 32.4% of Colombians polled, with the possibility of Coronavirus infection only the second-greatest worry, at 23.4%, the poll shows.

Despite growing panic over jobs and the economy, Bogota Mayor Claudia López -- who campaigned for demagogue Petro in the 2018 election -- is launching Quixotic attacks on Duque, signaling the start of her expected 2022 campaign for the Colombian presidency.

President Duque by contrast isn’t running for anything, as Colombia’s constitution only allows a single term.

The first López attack – likely aiming to shift blame for any personal responsibility for Bogota having by far the worst Coronavirus prevalence in all Colombia – came in a theatrical bloviation, blaming the Bogota airport as the principal culprit.

“Over my dead body,” López yelled to reporters over the non-existent, Quixotic idea of reopening Bogota’s airport.

Ironically, President Duque has blocked all passenger air traffic at all Colombian airports and has publicly stated he has no intention of restarting international flights.

Beyond tilting at windmills over the airport non-issue, now Mayor López is criticizing President Duque’s decision to allow strictly controlled reopenings of construction and manufacturing sectors – combined with strict limits on public passenger transport (maximum 35% of capacity, mandatory masks, mandatory distancing) along with Duque’s initiatives and mandates to expand relatively safe, Coronavirus-free bicycle transport and telecommuting alternatives.

However, even a well-controlled reopening of public transport means more passengers on Bogota’s public transport system. Hence, according to López, this inevitably means more Coronavirus cross-infections.

However, all recent economic-expert reports agree that Colombia must gradually restart its economy – under strict health controls -- or else watch its entire economy collapse, hurtling millions more into poverty, accompanied by inevitable food riots, massive street violence and a likely surge in deaths from other poverty-linked diseases.

Which begs the question: Is demanding a total shutdown of the Colombian economy -- while waiting another 12 to 18 months for a Coronavirus vaccine -- the smart way for López to start a 2022 presidential campaign?

Read 694 times Last modified on Last modified on April 23 2020

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Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

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