Center for Latin American Studies Hosts Colombian Senator and Presidential Hopeful Juan Manuel Galán

September 26, 2017
by Sophia Mauro


On Friday, September 22, 2017, Senator Juan Manuel Galán (MSFS ‘03) joined students and community members to talk about his presidential campaign, hopes for Colombia’s future, and thoughts on Colombian domestic and international politics. He was joined by Professor Marc Chernick, Professor in the Practice of Political Science at the School of Foreign Service and Director of the Georgetown-Los Andes Program on Conflict Resolution and Human Rights at the University of Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.

A member of the Liberal Party, Galán is  the son of influential politician and presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán, who was assassinated in 1989.  Galán is one of many hopefuls gearing up for the first-round election in March 2018.

In his remarks, Galán voiced his opinion of the most pressing issues facing Colombia today. He emphasized the need for reform, noting, “Now, we don’t have FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] being an excuse not to put forward the necessary reforms to make our country more equal. We are one of the most unequal countries in the hemisphere.” His policy suggestions included aid for rural areas, preservation of property rights, land tax reform, and the elimination of clientelism.

Galán also discussed the Colombian peace process and the need to prioritize victims over the perpetrators. From his perspective, transitional justice is the single most important aspect of the peace accords. Without it, he asserted, all efforts will fail. Galán introduced a legislative change that, he said, would ensure victims have access not only to the general, abstract truth but also to the judicial system for tangible answers related to specific cases.

Transitional justice. That’s the heart of the peace accords. The way we implement this transitional justice is going to ensure the success or the failure of the peace accords.

He addressed questions from the audience about specific mechanisms he would implement to bring about an end to pervasive inequality, as well as the ways in which he plans to reach out to all Colombians and not just urban and educated elites. He also discussed the Colombian political repercussions of his support for drug legalization and recognition of same sex marriage rights.

The event, “A Practitioner’s Perspective on the Colombian Peace Accords,” was sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies, the Latin America Initiative, and the Latin America Leadership Program.