Colombia’s strongman

By Felix Salmon
May 20, 2009

Here’s a measure of how important Nouriel Roubini has become of late, according to his Twitter, he’s just met with president Alvaro Uribe of Colombia and his (entire?) cabinet.

Nouriel’s right that the big debate in the country is about whether to let Uribe run for an unconstitutional third term; he doesn’t mention (you can’t blame him, he only has 140 characters) that even Uribe’s second term was unconstitutional until he had the constitution changed in 2005 to allow him to run for president again.

Uribe’s very popular, and at the margin a good president for Colombia. But third terms — even constitutional ones — rarely end well, and the longer that a strong president like Uribe stays in power, the harder it becomes for civil institutions to emerge — you get closer and closer to a “L’État, c’est Moi” state of affairs. Uribe will probably get his third term. But I hope the OAS — and the State Department — are bold enough to object.

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