Freedom in the World
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Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political uncertainty increased in 2009 as President Alvaro Uribe’s supporters took steps to allow him to seek a third term in 2010. A scandal involving government surveillance of civil society members, opposition politicians, and judges sharpened existing tensions between the president and the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the significant security gains of recent years appeared to level off, as violence rose in some cities and rural zones. Relations with neighboring Venezuela continued to worsen amid recriminations over a U.S.-Colombian military accord and Caracas’s alleged toleration of Colombian rebel activity on Venezuelan territory.
Colombia’s relations with its neighbors have been turbulent in recent years. Both Ecuador and Venezuela cut off diplomatic ties after Colombia’s 2008 cross-border raid in Ecuador; many, though not all, ties with Ecuador were subsequently reestablished. In October 2009, the United States and Colombia signed a defense pact granting U.S. military personnel and aircraft increased access to seven Colombian bases. The agreement’s broad language led Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to denounce it in bellicose terms, prompting fears of a border conflict.
Colombia is an electoral democracy. The 2006 legislative elections, while an improvement over the 2002 contest, were marred by vote buying, district switching, opaque financing, paramilitary intimidation, and violence. The 2006 presidential election was comparatively peaceful, and the 2007 regional and local elections repeated some of the flaws of the congressional polls but marked an improvement over the last such elections in 2003.