Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos resumed his governmental duties on Monday after undergoing surgery to remove a non-aggressive, cancerous tumor from his prostate in Bogotá last Wednesday. Following a prognosis with a 97 percent chance of a full recovery without chemotherapy or radiation, the president’s doctors deemed the surgery a success. Santos is the sixth South American president to undergo treatment this year. Presidents Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, as well as former Presidents Fernando Lugo of Paraguay and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil have also publicly battled cancer.
While he is not allowed to travel during his three-week recovery, President Santos has resumed his domestic duties, signing 34 decrees and calling to congratulate Hugo Chávez on his victory on Sunday. He is currently preparing for the long-awaited peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—FARC) which will begin in Norway on October 17. The nearly fifty-year conflict between the Colombian government and the rebels has centered on land reform, an issue which the FARC does not feel has been addressed despite the president’s 2011 land titling and redistribution program, the Victims and Land Restitution Law.
Successful negotiations would benefit President Santos’ approval ratings and the improved stability will make Colombia more attractive for investors. A boost in investment would be welcome, given the International Monetary Fund’s reduced growth predictions for the region, from 3.4 and 4.2 percent for 2012 and 2013, respectively, to 3.2 and 3.9 percent.