President Santos on post-FARC Colombia and Venezuela’s crisis

World Today

President Santos on post-FARC Colombia and Venezuela's crisis

They fought Colombia’s political establishment for more than a half-century. Now they’re about to become part of it. On Friday, the leftist FARC rebels launch their political party.

It’s part of the peace deal struck with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

CGTN’s Michelle Begue interviewed the president about the challenges ahead.

With end of 50 years of armed conflict with the FARC guerilla group, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has high hopes for Colombia’s economy.

“First, by the mere fact of ending a war, investment will increase. It is increasing,” he explained.

“Tourism is increasing at a very fast rate. There are areas of the country that were not developed at all because the state couldn’t go because of the conflict and now we can go–very rich areas.”

But not all is peaceful in this South American nation. According to conflict monitoring NGO Indepaz, 50 socialist leaders have been killed across the country in this year alone. The Nobel Peace Prize winner expressed his concern.

“There is a fight among criminal bands to see who takes over,” he said. “This is the price of transition. But the government is very much aware and taking action to stop this because we have the responsibility of granting security to those people who were in a way liberated by the conflict.”

The Colombian President also talked about his U.S. counterpart. Historically, Colombia has been a strong U.S. ally in the region.

But when it comes to President Donald Trump’s policies towards Cuba and his remarks of considering military force in Venezuela, Santos claims to draw the line.

“We also have our differences,” says Santos. “For example, I told President Trump that military intervention will not be accepted by Colombia or any other country in the region. So as good friends we also tell each other things when we don’t agree.”

On Thursday, a Gallup poll showed the President’s approval ratings are low. 25 percent of Colombians approve of the President.

According to the poll, corruption has played a role. There is an ongoing investigation into illegal funds from the Odebrecht Scandal which made their way to Santos’ re-election campaign.

But President Santos is confident that his administration is clean.

“Fortunately, so far, people in my administration at a high level have not been tainted. If they are tainted they should go to jail.”