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New year, new hope. And after the stagnation that was 2020 for many — save for the comfortable, virtue-signalling folk who have seen their lot actually improve — there appears to be more of a focus than usual on the positives that lie in store for us over the next 12 months.
Nonetheless, positivity is one thing, reality another — we’ll leave to one side the postmodernist view on what is real and what isn’t, only to say that when you’re dead, you’re dead. So while we’ll do our best to carry on regardless, here are some reasons to be less than optimistic that 2021 will be brighter than 2020.
Let’s start with the most obvious. Regardless of where you stand on the efficacy of lockdowns and the true severity of coronavirus (in a recent interview, the historian Niall Ferguson noted how in terms of lethality the disease isn’t even in the top 25 of global pandemics humanity has suffered), the closedown-to-suppress-the-virus approach has been adopted by many countries.
For sure, with vaccines now on the scene, hopes are high in richer nations that they’ll be able to get on top of the situation in the first six months of this year or so.
However, considering the way our decision-makers and much of the media have become completely engrossed in every detail of this virus and its modus operandi to the detriment of pretty much all other areas of life, those who hope that by this time next year we’ll be in AC (After Coronavirus) times need a reality check.
‘Closer to Colombia, strong rhetoric against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has the potential to morph into something more than mere words.’
What’s more, emerging-market countries, such as here in Colombia, look set to be well behind the curve in any vaccine bounce. By going along with the richer nations’ moment of crisis in their otherwise comfortable existence, in following the lead of said richer nations and neglecting other, arguably more serious problems, developing countries will be cast further adrift. Inequality will widen, not only between nations but within them as well.
One final covid “fear” is the continuation of Colombian President Iván Duque’s cringeworthy, quite condescending evening TV addresses. Mercifully, they are easily avoidable. I’m clearly not the only one who has had enough. The owner of one of my panadería “offices” changes channel as soon as El Presidente comes on.
Much of the world will breathe a sigh of relief when US President Donald J. Trump vacates the White House on 20 January. In his place comes a veteran establishment figure, a man who many view as a safe pair of hands, Democrat Joe Biden.
The thing us, after four years of a president who put America (the United States part of it, that is) first, who largely preferred isolationism rather than internationalism, a Biden administration will look to reassert Washington’s influence on the global stage. How that manifests itself over the next few years will be fascinating to watch, from a safe distance that is, if one can be found.
OK, another flare-up in the Middle East doesn’t exactly usher in Armageddon, but an outwardly bullish, confident China is sure to lay down the gauntlet to what it must perceive as a weak, disjointed rival.
Closer to Colombia, strong rhetoric against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro — a China ally of sorts — has the potential to morph into something more than mere words. In fact, the centrist faction of the Democratic Party might see it as a way to show it’s not being highjacked by the left, as well as adhering to its stated global clampdown on corruption.
In addition, “corrective” action against Caracas would do no harm at all in helping to boost support among certain Hispanic voters who loathe the socialist wing hovering in the USA’s blue corner.
And attacking fellow human beings is more box office than fighting a microscopic, common enemy of mankind.
Uribe presente, es mi presidente
One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. So while large swathes of the Colombian electorate will be thrilled with the prospect of an Uribe running for the presidency next year, many will be filled with dread.
Reports in late 2020 suggested that Tomás Uribe, son of former president, the divisive Álvaro Uribe, was being sounded out by Centro Democrático officials to run for the country’s top job.
By all accounts, it’s a long shot — he’s reputedly not keen — but if Colombia was to put an Uribe back in Casa de Nariño, it would open the door for old scores to be settled, à la US President George W. Bush finishing off some of his father George H.’s business.
In such a scenario, we may not need the US to instigate war with the neighbours to the east. The Uribes are coming for Chavismo in all its manifestations, abroad and at home.
Whatever transpires over the course of the next 12 months, it promises to be an exciting ride.
Listen to Wrong Way’s Colombia Cast podcast here.