“Utópicos”, a magazine of the Santiago de Cali University, carried out a series of interviews with heirs of Colombian politicians, called “Delfines”, which will be published by The viewer. The first one, with the eldest son of the two-time president of Colombia and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Juan Manuel Santos, who assures that he is not interested in pursuing a political career.
His father comes from a family that was formed around a figure who, in the first decade of the 20th century, combined the practice of journalism with politics. So much so that his great-great-uncle, Eduardo Santos, had a close relationship with the former (as owner of the newspaper Time) and with the second (arriving, in 1938, to be president of Colombia, by liberalism).
His heirs (Enrique and Hernando Santos Castillo) consolidated this great journalistic project, but only one of them, Juan Manuel Santos —of the third generation— managed to become the Presidency of Colombia. As there is an intermediate generation in which none of the nephews decided on politics, Juan Manuel Santos has not been called a “dolphin”, because technically and politically he built his own path until he reached the head of State. However, in the new generations (and I’m talking about 2022), the name of Martín Santos has jumped onto the public scene. Taking into account the above:
Do you consider yourself a “dolphin” of politics? Have you thought about dedicating yourself to public service and building a path to being president?
I have been asked this question repeatedly and every time I have said emphatically that no, that is not my plan, not only because I am focused on other interests, but also because I believe that we must provide space for other young people, much more prepared than me to venture into that field of politics. I have also argued several times that power is not inherited, but cultivated. Leadership is created, not inherited; So within my plans is not to make a political career to become president of Colombia.
Before, political inheritances were forged with intellectual and academic preparation. Now, other conditions are perceived (which acquired notoriety during the parapolitics) and today the aspiration is to preserve political and economic power in the face of the withdrawal from public life of the patriarchs. Have you been proposed to take your father’s flags?
I have to say that the proposal to assume the political banners of my father has been made to me repeatedly; especially now, that there are many people who miss the way in which my father did the politics of the center, of the third way. From congressmen to businessmen and academics they have approached me to try to push me and venture on this path, and I have said no, that their intention honors me, but that it is definitely not in my plans.
Do you believe Tomás Uribe when he says that he is only going to advise Óscar Iván Zuluaga? , or is it not that he is in a process of learning political minutiae to start a journey that leads him to power, perhaps not in 2022, but in 2026?
The truth is that I would prefer not to enter into controversies with Tomás Uribe. Everyone has the right to think and act as they prefer; if he has political aspirations, like any Colombian he has every right to do so. So, I prefer not to express my opinion for others, especially in this context of polarization and aggressiveness in which we Colombians unfortunately find ourselves.
To clarify your professional path and future audience, what has become of you in these years? What do you do? What projects do you have?
Three years ago I moved to New York (United States), to do a master’s degree in Public Affairs and International Relations at Columbia University. I took it forward, it was an incredible experience for me, not only because of the learning I had, but also because of the people I met. My original plan was to go back to Colombia immediately after that, but I was hired by a consulting firm called K2 Intelligence, in a position that caught my attention. So I currently work as a consultant for this firm, but at the same time I recently launched my own consulting firm, it is called Metodica Consulting. It is an undertaking that I have thought and developed during the last five months in which COVID-19 has made me reflect on new ways of approaching reality.
My plans for the next few years will be to dedicate myself fully to consulting, not only for the company I work for, but for mine, which consists of four areas of work: business development, sustainability, communication and strategy, and public affairs. and government.
You are a celebrity on Twitter, with almost 425,000 followers, to what do you attribute your success in networks? What is the value you place on expressing your opinions on social media?
I don’t consider myself a celebrity on Twitter for any reason. Simply, I believe that the number of followers reflects, perhaps, that the audience likes the content of my publications; So that’s why it could be considered an influential person in this social network, but it doesn’t go beyond that. There are people who are successful in their social networks, with humorous content, with visual and photographic content; there are others in many different areas, and I think that the number of followers is a reflection of the taste that perhaps the audience has for my trills and my content.
How much is there of personal opinions and how much is there of conversations and the thought of Juan Manuel Santos?
There is this idea that my father is behind my social networks. That is totally untrue. I am fully responsible for each of the letters that is typed and published there. Even, many times I have had confrontations with my father, because he does not agree with some statements that I have made in these social networks and in no way do I consult or ask him for advice on what I publish there. I own my tweets, my words and my own content.
If we compare him with Tomás Uribe (117,100 followers), we see that he quadruples it. Why is this happening?
I don’t see any specific reason and I don’t like that kind of comparison. Each person, as I had mentioned, is free to do what they want, what they think and what content they want (to publish). I have tried not to incur this negative trend for society and it is the whole issue of fake news. We see that thousands and thousands of inaccurate information are published daily, that all they do is distort the debate and increase aggressiveness on social networks. I try, of course, to be critical of some issues, but, above all, to make sure of the veracity of the information that I share, that I publish, that I quote, that I write.
So, I would rather focus on saying that there are two types of trends in social networks: those who want to make noise, create anxiety, create panic with false news, and there are people who enter the debate, who dispute, as is healthy in a democracy, but with foundation and with accurate information.
* Editor’s note: Some responses to this interview were published by the author in her column in the Washington Post.