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El Tiempo, Colombia

Second Term


By Gabriel Silva Luján

Translated By Karen Posada

23 December 2012

Edited by Natalie Clager


Colombia - El Tiempo - Original Article (Spanish)

In a few days, the president of the United States will begin his second four-year term. The truth is that no one knows what to expect.

The campaign didn’t get much attention because it was full of rhetoric, with little substance. In the heat of the electoral battle, many important subjects were avoided, no matter how important they were to the future of the country and the world. To get an idea of Obama’s agenda you have to mix the little data that exists with much intuition and a big dose of speculation.

Obama is a cold and really brilliant man, who also has a heart. Naturally, he’s noticed that he’s the first African-American president of the United States. Many criticized that this identity wasn’t emphasized in his first term. They are right, but Obama did the right thing. He behaved as a man of state, above the agenda of racial vindication.

But all of this indicates that in the second term he will have higher social priorities, with an emphasis on equality. The debt he has with his people will be paid with more public investments and social services, a fight against crime in inner city neighborhoods and defense of industrial work. He will be a more interventionist and protective Obama.

The dream that Latinos in the U.S. have held for decades is finally going to become a reality. Their numbers and participation defined the election in Obama’s favor. They are no longer invisible. They are a force that decides. Obama will cancel that debt to Latinos by promoting a more humane system of immigration. In addition, a higher sensitivity to the priorities of Latin America is expected.

The biggest challenge continues to be fiscal issues and resuscitating the economy. Obama will do whatever is needed in 2013 to avoid a recession. In that struggle he will have a great ally in Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve. The Republicans hate him because they think he saved Obama, since he helped a lot with his expansionist policies. And he will continue to help him.

On the international front, there’s also a desire for greater activism and more ideological attention with respect to foreign relations. Appointing Senator Kerry as the new Secretary of State is a powerful sign.

He has mightily defended a progressive international agenda, and the subject of human rights, democracy and liberties will have higher priority. Fortunately for Colombia, he’s a man who voted for the FTA — despite opposition from democratic unions — and he is a personal friend of President Santos.

In the next four years, Obama will also have to face severe external challenges. War drums sound in Western Asia, where territorial disputes between China and its neighbors threaten to get out of his control. Along with the recent democracy he’s awoken in the Middle East, a new current of Islamic extremism looms in the background.

There’s also the threat of North Korea’s nuclear schizophrenia.

But, incredibly, what’s even harder than facing the aforementioned issues is convincing Americans to give up the craziness of allowing anyone to have a firearm and decide to release their frustration by killing innocents. If Obama insists on changing that culture, as it seems he might, it will almost mean a civil war. The love Americans have for guns guarantees, unfortunately, that gun control won’t be part of his legacy.

Thanks for reading this column at a time when the only thing worthwhile is to be with your family. My best wishes.



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