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A watchful eye on Colombia's finances

Roberto Junguito represents
Colombia at panel discussion

IT WAS THE kind of grouping that could only happen at Davos. Five Latin American presidents were assembled in one place in February, for a panel discussion: Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, Eduardo Duhalde of Argentina, Alejandro Toledo of Peru, Vicente Fox of Mexico, and Lula of Brazil. Uribe explained the economic reforms that he had managed to push through with the aid of his finance minister, Roberto Junguito, who was sitting next to Francisco Gil Diaz, his Mexican counterpart.

Gil, recalls Junguito, could barely believe what he was hearing. "How were you able to do it?" he asked. Junguito modestly told Gil that it was largely due to the president's abilities in selling reform to Congress. But in truth the president would never have been on board were it not for Junguito's abilities in selling reform to Uribe.

Uribe was not elected for his economic platform: rather, the country, sick of a seemingly endless and intractable civil war, rallied around a strong leader with a clearly-articulated policy of fighting terrorists and the cocaine industry that funds them.

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