Socialist Politician’s New Bid for Colombian Presidency
Robledo’s persona as an academic and incorruptible man has positioned him as a leftist leader who can likely hold power in the country
Spanish – This is not the first time that Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo has run for the Presidency of Colombia. On October 26, 2016, he made public his aspiration to come to power in 2018. However, there was an alliance formed between the center-left and the most radical wing of the Democratic Pole —the Independent and Revolutionary Workers’ Movement (Moir). The decision at that time was to support Sergio Fajardo and his vice-presidential candidate, the current mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López, to face Uribism, represented by Iván Duque. After the first round, Robledo’s candidacy had to settle for third place and watch from the stands as Duque and Gustavo Petro fought for power in the election. The result: the triumph of Uribism with more than ten million votes and the strengthening of the Colombian left with more than eight million.
Given Petro’s weak leadership after the elections, Robledo seeks to take advantage of the mobilizations that took place at the end of 2019, which he supported as a platform to strengthen his candidacy and make him one of the most robust politicians to take power away from the right.
Robledo’s image on the left
Despite being involved in one of the most radical sections, Robledo has managed to strengthen his image in the different spectrums of the left. The public perceives him as a wise and incorruptible man. He is also influential in various unions, which not only represent votes, but also money and key chips in different sectors of society. An example of this is the Colombian Federation of Education Workers (Fecode), which has almost 300,000 members who teach in Colombia’s public institutions, which means that the left has the upper hand when it comes to the ideological indoctrination of Colombian students. Several of the student leaders who have been at the forefront of mobilizations in the country also back Robledo.
😮😮 Me encanta esta idea.
Robledo y su equipo de trabajo representan las mejores características de nuestra gente ♥️. Construye con rigor sus propuestas, sus debates y sobre todo, siempre ha estado en las calles del lado de las causas nobles del movimiento social. Que alegría! https://t.co/a0o3okDvQ4
— Jennifer Pedraza S (@JenniferPedraz) January 20, 2020
Although Petro also wields influence among unions, Robledo’s image in public opinion is much more reliable, as it doesn’t generate as much resistance. Petro has had problems working in a team and accepting different viewpoints, while Robledo has been willing to twist his arm and get out of the way as long as the left comes to power. An example of this is his support for Fajardo’s presidential candidacy in 2018 through the Colombia Coalition.
Robledo and the Moir
Robledo is an active member of the Moir, a movement with a clear Marxist-Leninist-Maoist tendency- an ideology that has killed millions. In fact, the leading player of this movement is Robledo, so much so that they have a whole section on their homepage devoted to the work of the Senator. Although he tries not to be connected to the leftist projects in the region, in 2016, the Moir’s page made it clear that the mission of the organization is to “lead the class struggle of the Colombian proletariat for its definitive emancipation, establish socialism in Colombia, and achieve communism. It defends the interests of the people and the nation of Colombia, and its immediate objective is the new democratic revolution.”
However, after the announcement of Robledo’s presidential nomination that year, this mission was deleted from the page (as the PanAm Post noted). Considering that the Senator is the principal member of the Moir, this mission is in line with his thinking, and he may have approved it before it was published on the website.
Robledo’s economic model: radical protectionism
Although, in 2012, Senator Robledo stated that “the history of capitalism is the history of state intervention in the economy,” he is the leading advocate of state interference in the market, pushing for radical protectionism.
La historia del capitalismo es la historia de la intervención del Estado en la economía
— Jorge Robledo (@JERobledo) September 4, 2012
One of his most recent struggles has been against digital platforms that allow Colombians to access better quality services and better costs. Although Robledo claims to be on the side of the poor, he has taken the lead in the fight against Uber’s operation. He is in line with the taxi oligopoly that seeks to limit all supply and monopolize the market and cut off thousands of drivers from different platforms.
He has also been very critical of the free trade agreements signed in the last three decades and proposes the creation of import quotas, which would make products more expensive, thus harming those with fewer resources, but benefiting sectors that today support him.
In 2016, after Robledo’s candidacy for the presidency, economist Luis Guillermo Álvarez said the following:
He has stood out in the congress more because of his perseverance than because of his wisdom. He has always viewed and proclaimed himself as the champion of the poor and the destitute. Paradoxically, the economic policies that he promotes reduce the availability of goods and services for the poor he claims to defend while raising the incomes of landowners, inefficient producers, and rent-seekers who profit from the parasitic intervention of the state.
— Jorge Robledo (@JERobledo) October 19, 2016
Although Robledo proposes to end “crony capitalism,” his proposals only show that he seeks to replace some cronies with others, benefiting the sectors that would help him not only come to power but also stay there.
Robledo’s ambiguous position on Venezuela
While he has tried to avoid being associated with communism and socialism, Robledo also avoids addressing the political and social crisis confronting Venezuela. In the most recent interview conducted by Colombian journalist Vicky Davila for Semana, Robledo was asked if he classified Nicolás Maduro’s regime as a dictatorship. He was uncomfortable and stated that “it is difficult to use labels to define things.” Instead, he hid behind “the self-determination of the people” argument to avoid delving into the issue.
When Dávila asked him to define Maduro in one word, he refused and went back to the argument about labels. But he did go to these labels when the journalist asked him to define the interim president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó. Robledo said, “pathetic. Guaidó is terrible.” In other words, he had harsher words for the man who constitutionally became President of Venezuela in January 2019 than he did for those who have plunged this country into misery through repression and tyranny.
In the interview, he also stated that if he became President of Colombia, he would maintain good relations with the regime, and he opposed any international action that would help Venezuelans free themselves from the socialist stranglehold in which they live.
The danger that Robledo poses to Colombia
Robledo represents one of the most radical wings of the Colombian left, the Moir, which seeks to implement socialism in Colombia. His passion for protectionism has shown that his real interest is not so much in helping the citizens or the neediest sectors, but the industries that support him and keep him in power.
His persona as an academic and incorruptible man has positioned him as a leftist leader who could likely hold power in the country. Robledo could capitalize on the votes won by Petro in 2018. If you add the indoctrination in public institutions by members of leftist movements who support him, his chances of winning are more than realistic, perhaps not so much for 2022, but 2026, when we would see the fruits of the labor of teachers and students in the classrooms.
His economic positions, which he has defended tooth and nail in the Senate, would lead Colombia into one of the greatest crises. His views include renegotiating free trade agreements under his quota conditions, strengthening the unions and guilds that support him, modifying the education system (with further indoctrination than the current one), the increase in public spending, among others. These would result in a massive outflow of capital from the country and skyrocket inflation as he would strengthen narcoterrorism (by not combating the Colombian narco-guerrillas that have settled in Venezuela with the protection of the Chavista regime), increase in foreign debt, unemployment, and poverty.