Adam Nisbet LASP-902 ABSTRACT Executive Power in the Northern Andes

The region that now encompasses Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela was once the first Spanish viceroyalty in South America to break free from the crown and establish their own independent government1. Since that separation and into modern

times, these countries have experienced an at times volatile struggle for representative democracy facing a shift toward socialism, the qualms of populism, and the constant threat of coup d’états from their standing militaries. This study seeks

to understand why democratic systems have traditionally struggled in this region by analyzing the history of their government systems and by profiling their current executive leadership and modes of representation. In this interdisciplinary study we will discuss the political implications of the rise of Colombia’s new president, Juan Manuel Santos, and the issues this region of Latin America is facing including foreign relations with the United States, and other regional and foreign influences. World trade and

foreign investment has dramatically influenced these areas’
1

Gran Colombia (18) July, 2007.

economic sustainability and propelled substantial growth in the 2000’s. In the midst of Latin Americas’ developmental phase

there are ongoing issues concerning human rights, freedom of the press, and environmental rights for this region. In each of

these countries the movement towards representative government has endured consistent distress due to their regional, economic, and ethnic diversity. On the international front, it appears that there is a notable separation between the diplomatic routes of the countries; Colombia’s new president has taken on a dramatic proAmerican diplomatic stance while Venezuela has abandoned American influence for an “overseas development aid” diplomatic program aided by China, foreign corporations and other influences2. Besides international influences the region faces infighting and regional turmoil across the boundaries of their respective countries due largely to narcotic trafficking and regional instabilities often times linked to ethnicity or natural rights. Colombia alone is still fighting the longest

standing drug war against guerrillas in modern history3, it is

2

Burges, Sean W. Building a Global Southern Coalition: the competing approaches of Brazil’s Lula and Venezuela’s Chavez. Third World Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 7, pp 1343-1358. 2007.
3

Ardila Galvis, Constanza. The Heart of the War in Colombia. Kumarian Press. March 2002.

considered to be in a state of constant civil war4, with millions of internally displaced people and it currently relies heavily on US funding for humanitarian aid and defense5. In Ecuador

President Correa, who proposed the popular “citizen’s revolution” in 20046, has been the victim of a recent coup attempt perpetrated by angry civil servants, including police and military, regarding changes to their pension plans that has furthered instability7. On the other hand, Hugo Chavez, the

president of oil rich Venezuela, condemns anything proposed by the United States diplomats accusing the United States of consistent meddling in the region and has even blamed them for the Ecuadorian coup attempt stating from his Twitter account: “They’re trying to take down President Correa,” he’s been “kidnapped;”7. This study has combined references to scholarly articles analyzing each countries’ progress through the 2000’s and their reach for political stability. Much of this region relies on overseas development aid to fund further infrastructure costs

4

Keller, Karen. Critics Fault Former Colombia President Uribe. AOL News. November 2, 2010. http://www.aolnews.com/world/article/critics-fault-formercolombian-president-alvaro-uribe/19695763
5

Haugan, Greg. US to give $30M for Colombia land restitution. Colombia Reports. October 19, 2010. 6 ECUADOR: Correa Success Depends on External Factors. OxResearch Daily Brief Service. Oxford: pg. 1. August 26th 2009. 7 Kuffner, Stephan and Padgett, Tim. Ecuador: When the Cops Took on the President. 1 Oct 2010. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2023011,00.html?iid=sphereinline-sidebar

and oil related costs which further complicates political power structures8. With so many countries from Cuba to the US

attempting to gain political influence in this region, from political ideologies such as Marxism, Socialism, Populism, and Communism, evidence will shed light on how their leaders currently define their nations through elections and democratic constitutional systems. Regional disputes have recently arisen between Colombia and Ecuador amid serious regional security conflicts concerning cocaine trafficking paramilitaries, the FARC in Colombia, and issues related to the remote border with Ecuador that has been the site of border invasion dispute. To make the situation even

more precarious, Venezuela has been documented to be openly harboring the same FARC militants because of Marxist ideology9 and has broken ties with Colombia over this issue10. At the same

time, this region is forging many new allegiances with countries such as Iran, China, and others showing a dynamic and yet questionable future in relations with the US11. The areas

8

Burges, Sean W. Building a Global Southern Coalition: the competing approaches of Brazil’s Lula and Venezuela’s Chavez. Third World Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 7, pp 1343-1358. 2007.
9

Washington Post. Terrorist on Video; Colombia proves – again – that Venezuela is harboring FARC insurgents. July 30, 2010.
10

Chavez Breaks Ties with Colombia. Los Angeles Times. Main News; Foreign Desk; Part A; pg, 11. July 23, 2010.
11

The Economist. “The Dragon in the Back Yard.” August 15th, 2009.

leaders seem as though they are in a constant dance between the throws of populisms and disruptive violence. This study will seek to explain themes in executive leadership in this region and also explain modern shifts in their constitutional democracies and a qualitative analysis of their electoral systems. The region is composed of a very

diverse conglomerate of political ideologies, ethnicities and races that have created a very complex representative spectrum. Ecuador’s constitutional government has been largely unstable in recent decades having voted in six national elections in the past four years to hold constitutional assemblies and to cast obligatory votes for their representative government repeatedly12. The state of executive leadership in the Northern

Andes can shed light on how these political systems have progressed. Colombia’s recent election, while having a few

outbursts of violence and death, can actually be seen as a positive example for the region which showcased democratic debate and enthusiastic voters engaging in political activism and free speech. Since the provident political themes of Simon Bolivar’s conquest, these countries have had a determined will to be represented through democratic government. And while each
12

Bowen, James D. Notes on Recent Elections: Ecuador's 2009 presidential and legislative elections. Electoral Studies, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 186-189, Mar 2010.

country faces internal crisis’s ranging from indigenous rights and natural rights, to issues involving their rich and mostly undeveloped natural resources, they have developed their own political identity and free acting will. Even as proposals for

school reform in Venezuela and Ecuador lead to protests and tear gas on the streets of their respective capitals they will still seek reform and progress with so many factional parties involved staking claim to representative power13. This study will seek to explain the contrasts and links between these political systems and their goals for the rights of the individual. As President Correa has explained in his

campaigns, the country should ideally work: “to keep wages in line with the cost of living; to broaden the reach of basic services; to widen coverage of social security; to make banks more responsive to people’s needs; and to continue defending Ecuador’s national sovereignty.”14 This study will also seek to

answer whether, in a time of international economic lag and constantly shifting diplomatic relations, can these goals be achieved for Northern Andes and Latin America?

13

The Economist. Hugo Chavez seeks to catch them young. Education “Reforms.” Caracas. August 22nd, 2009.
14

Venezuela’s

ECUADOR: Correa Success Depends on External Factors. Service. Oxford: pg. 1. August 26th 2009.

OxResearch Daily Brief

Works Cited 1. Ajl, Max. Defeating the “envoy of God.” Ecuador: Rafael Correa. New Statesman. December 4, 2006. 2. Ardila Galvis, Constanza. The Heart of the War in Colombia. Kumarian Press. March 2002. 3. Barndt, William T. Executive Assaults and the Social Foundations of Democracy in Ecuador. Latin American Politics and Society; Spring 2010; 52, 1; ProQuest Direct Complete. pg. 121 4. Bowen, James D. Notes on Recent Elections: Ecuador's 2009 presidential and legislative elections. Electoral Studies, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 186-189, Mar 2010. 5. Burbano de Lara, Felipe; Tibanlombo, Juan; Vallejo, Andres; Garcia, Eva; Pozo, Mauricio; Hernandez, Joaquin; Almeida, Juan; Jijon, Carlos; Arcos Cabrera, Carlos. Correa Un Ano…: de las promesas a la realidad. HOY. Edimpres SA. Quito, Ecuador 2007. 6. Burges, Sean W. Building a Global Southern Coalition: the competing approaches of Brazil’s Lula and Venezuela’s Chavez. Third World Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 7, pp 13431358. 2007. 7. Carroll, Rory. Ecuador: Row over spying ends thaw and turns the heat up on Colombia. The Observer. Week Pages; Pg. 36. July 4th, 2010. 8. Chasteen, John Charles. Born in Blood and Fire, a Concise History of Latin America. W. W. Norton & Company. New York. 2006. 9. Chavez Breaks Ties with Colombia. Los Angeles Times. Main News; Foreign Desk; Part A; pg, 11. July 23, 2010. 10. Colombia’s Good News; a pro-American candidate wins a presidential election in a landslide. Will Washington treat him as an ally? The Washington Post. June 22, 2010.

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