Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, confirmed his plans to run for re-election in next year’s presidential race. In a televised speech yesterday, he expressed his commitment to undertake a second term in order to “complete the job” he began, and stated that “we cannot leave halfway through our work in security and economic issues.” Santos took office in August 2010.
After a few years in which Santos’ popularity dropped, recent actions taken by his government have seen his image rise. In particular, his re-initiation of peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), in order to end years of armed conflict. An opinion poll carried out by Gallup showed that the president’s popularity had risen from 21% in August 2013 to 29% in November of the same year.
During his speech, Santos spoke about continuing the peace talks in order to provide safety and security for all citizens. Admitting he had hoped the negotiations with FARC, held in Cuba, would move along more rapidly, he stated: “Big transformations are not achieved in a short amount of time. I want to conserve peace and prosperity for this country. All Colombians want peace… However, we have certainly made important progress… the guerrilla group has accepted to adhere to democratic rules. We cannot lose all that we have done until now.”
Santos also discussed the steps taken to improve quality of life and alleviate thousands of Colombians from poverty through job creation: “We have created over 2 million job positions, more than any other country in Latin America. But there are still a vast number of unemployed individuals that remain.”
Admitting he had made mistakes during his term, he stated: “I am far from perfect, but I am convinced that the way to face problems is not with fire and blood… we must complete our job.”
Presidential elections will take place on 25th May 2014. Santos’ main opponent is Óscar Iván Zuluaga, supported by former president Álvaro Uribe, who is part of the Social Party of National Unity. His candidacy was announced by the former president a few months in advance in order to increase his popularity with the public and solidify his position as main opponent.