Colombia has been influenced by many countries in diverse regards. However, in terms of politics Colombia can be proud of being unique in the world. This is more evident with the very original and irreverent ways in which the government is seeking to remain in power. Something other countries’ governments can learn from. The following is a list of steps that any potential head of state ought to learn and put into practice in order to perpetuate in power.
1. Before openly aspiring to the presidency, make sure to form and receive support of local militias that can later be reformed to form a national paramilitary organization. Affiliation with an armed group outside the law can come in handy, as will be pointed out shortly.
2. Promote laws that benefit the business elite in the Congress. Do not worry about harming the worker’s interests. Finance presidential campaign funds by the rich, instead of the poor.
3. Exploit the public sentiment of frustration for the failed peace talks between the government and the guerrillas. And promote a political discourse of: how anyone against the presidential candidate’s policies is allied with the guerrilla.
4. While running for the presidential election, do not take risks and make sure political supporters and the paramilitary organization work closely together to make sure that a majority in Congress is achieved.
5. Select the Vice-president and Ministers from among media magnates who can assure a smooth interaction between government and national press. Make sure to remind the country’s richest oligarchs, who also own TV stations, that you made them richer while in Congress (see point 2) and will make them even richer as President.
6. Publicize the government’s security policy as responsible for returning many parts of the country to state control and for pushing the guerrillas to the jungle. The overemphasis of these positive developments will understate negative parts of the policy such as paramilitary massacres, extrajudicial killings. Good collaboration with the national media in this phase is crucial (hence point 5). This way high popular support can be maintained.
7. Neutralize the negative public opinion of government policies that only benefit businessmen by offering cash handouts to the poorest in society. Everyone can be bought.
8. Initiate a demobilization process with the paramilitaries (who have become unnecessary). To ensure collaboration, grant complete immunity (or impunity) to most fighters or a maximum of eight years in jail for paramilitary bosses under the condition that some confessions of atrocities and reparation to the victims are conducted.
9. Extradite paramilitary bosses to the US when these become disgruntled and present a threat to the government by revealing their links to politicians and the army.
10. Bribe Congressmen in case opposition to a re-election is threatening continuity.
11. Increase the condemnation of human rights activists that target the government and denounce them as being allied with the guerrilla, thus neutralizing their diatribes against the government, which would maintain a high popular support for the government.
12. Commence a smear campaign against the Supreme Court when this starts the long-awaited investigation of congressmen for their alliance with the paramilitaries. Information gathered by secretly wiretapping the magistrates by the government’s security agency will come in handy.
13. Appoint Attorney Generals and Inspector Generals that can dilute the investigations of corruption and links between the paramilitary and the government, as much as possible — and in some cases absolve government officials of any wrongdoing.
14. Agree with the push of a referendum for allowing a second immediate re-election and thanks to the success in manufacturing consent the public opinion will discount the irregularities in financing the recollection of signatures for this initiative.
15. Promote a Constituent Assembly if the Supreme Court commences investigations against congressmen for apparent illegalities in the process of deliberation for the referendum. The Constituent Assembly would seek to change the presidential system for a Parliamentary, thus, the prime minister would be the leader of the majority party in the lower house of parliament. Making sure some the paramilitaries do not totally disappear, the majorities in parliament would be secured.
This list will be certainly updated soon.