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Mac Margolis

As Goes Colombia, So Goes Latin America?

As fiscally strapped governments struggle to cope with the pandemic, festering grievances over poor services and  broken political promises are spilling out into the streets.

Don’t be fooled by the flowers.

Don’t be fooled by the flowers.

Photographer: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images

When Colombians voted in a 42-year-old development wonk as president in 2018, they knew it was a leap of faith. But what Ivan Duque lacked in political adroitness (he’d served a single term as a senator), the argument went, he would finesse as an internationally accredited emerging market technocrat.

Thirty-two months on, Duque has done neither guild any favors. Shunned by adversaries and allies, with his approval ratings testing new lows, Duque is facing a torpid economy, unchecked Covid-19 and public whiplash not seen in Colombia or in much of Latin America since before the pandemic.