A Look at Colombia's Upcoming Presidential Election

Thom Calandra |
Óscar Iván Zuluaga, Alvaro Uribe, Juan Manuel Santos, presidential election colombia, colombia mining companiesBOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia's presidential elections begin Sunday.

Everybody to run from street.

I have not given up on Colombia, which has under its current president squandered great mineral wealth potential these past four years.

Colombia ​is in the process of a presidential election that is too close to call.  

The Sunday first round might be the only round if one candidate gets half of the popular vote. Most observers see that as a remote possibility.

I think that former Finance Minister Oscar Ivan Zuluaga will win the top spot, on ​this coming ​Sunday or in a run-off. This election is about money, ​it is ​about mining, ​and it is ​about 21st century sensibility when it comes to nurturing foreign direct investment and economic growth.

For a nice spell under former President Alvaro Uribe eight years ago, Colombia's economy was rocking and foreign direct investment was rolling in.​ The Colombian peso was among the world's best performing currencies, thanks to accelerating exports and a rapidly growing GDP.​

Now, with economic growth at ​a slower pace of ​4.5 percent or so, Mr. Zuluaga, when he is elected, will have a full plate of pesos to ponder.

This election also is about security and terrorism -- two things that never seem to evaporate in Colombia. (The recently deceased author Gabriel Garcia Marquez found lyrical ways to tell tales of the nation's ceaseless violence in his fiction and non-fiction works.)

These looming elections also are about telling the current administration of Juan Manuel Santos that it is one thing to promise reform on all fronts in this beautiful democratic nation. It is another to implement reform. Mr. Santos's ability to get things done ranks in the lowest percentile. Why former President Alvaro Uribe supported Mr. Santos in the first place is a question for the ages.

Mr. Uribe, the popular line goes, was aghast when his successor started negotiating with guerrillas almost from Day One of the president's administration four years ago.

Mr. Uribe uses Twitter to attack President Santos. Mostly​, the former president twits about the promise he says he had with Mr. Santos: to continue TO WAGE WAR AGAINST FARC and other Colombia terrorists.

I believe, hearing from Bogota and Medellin and Cali businessmen and women who regularly meet with the former president at his ranch, that Mr. Uribe is just as aghast at the sloppy bureaucracy that has manhandled many fronts of the economy -- including mining and agriculture -- as he is at the current president's peace talks with guerrillas.

Oh yes, did I tell you this is the first time in 16 years that Colombia has a team in World Cup football -- Brazil in June and July? Go team?

​There is a chance, if we see a June presidential run-off, that Colombia's 50 million or so citizens will have to choose between World Cup soccer​ and election bally-hoo.

On our TCR investing side of Colombia: In the area of gold mining, Colombia once was Latin America's most productive.

Until violence and sloth set in sometime around 1940.

​Current President Santos vowed to continue a gold mining rebound that began with the spark of his predecessor, Mr. Uribe. Sadly, Mr. Santos never delivered. Instead of helping gold prospectors, and copper and coal and silver, prosper, he and his administrators at every level, including the provincial level, have allowed paperwork and failed computer systems to clog the works for permitting, claiming and developing new mines.​

​There are still believers, and I am one. I started returning to Colombia in 2007 or so after having lived in Medellin 25 years prior.​

One of the first geologists I met down there was Bob Carrington. He has been at it down there, along with another Bob --Bob Allen of Grupo de Bullet -- since the 1990s.

This geophysical update just in from Bob Carrington at Colombian Mines ($CMJ:CA). CMJ has two irons in the fire: Mercedes and El Dovio. These are the prospector's flagship exploration projects for gold, copper, silver.

I was not able to see El Dovio this month as planned ​and will reschedule for July or early August. I am a ​longtime ​CMJ shareholder. Bob and Gloria Carrington are based in Medellin and in Reno, Nevada. They say samples for three El Dovio holes -- potentially high-grade gold and silver, with zinc -- will reach the laboratory this week.

The couple's company holds a Colombia portfolio of mineral concessions that ranks as largest among publicly traded prospectors for that nation. The only thing bigger down there is the private (with public offshoots such as Continental Gold ($CNL:CA), Cordoba Minerals ($CDB:CA) and Solvista Gold ($SVV:CA)Grupo de Bullet

​Let's see if these Colombia elections make any difference in the enormous squandering of mineral prospects in that richly resourced nation of gold, silver, copper, emeralds, coal and oil.​

--

Thom Calandra 

Subscribe to TCR ​at www.thomcalandra.com

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