By: Sebastian Silva-Iragorri
With the greatest gentleness and calm soul I begin with my letters to think about what Caro and Ospina would feel on October 4, 1849, 174 years ago, when laying the fundamental foundations of one of the most important political parties in Colombia. Conservatism should have been called Republican or Nationalist, but a cookie-cutter title was imposed that does not correspond to the true idea of the party. Even at one time men of conservatism governed as republicans, in the case of Carlos E. Restrepo and others they did so under the name of historicists. Saying that conservatism is an ideology of retrogrades who do not want anything to change is an enormous historical falsehood, maintained even today without blushing by its opponents. Conservatism admits and makes change, but always for the service of man and not man enslaved to the service of change. This philosophical distinction is key to understanding conservative doctrine and its essential principles.
In their different periods, men of the highest intellectual stature served and led the party, starting with José Eusebio Caro and Mariano Ospina Rodríguez and then a host of statesmen such as Jorge and Carlos Holguín, Manuel María Mallarino, Rafael Reyes, José Vicente Concha. , Marco Fidel Suárez, Miguel Abadía Méndez, Guillermo Valencia and another series of characters in literature, writers and poets, philosophers, researchers, humanists, great politicians and thinkers who were inspired by the ideals of the liberator Simón Bolívar and who have honored him to the Homeland and its history. Then “the leopards” will come with Ramírez Moreno and Silvio Villegas at the helm. Also notable are the so-called Marshal Gilberto Alzate Avendaño, Laureano Gómez, Mariano Ospina Pérez, Guillermo León Valencia, Misael Pastrana Borrero, Belisario Betancur, Andrés Pastrana and the list of ministers, ambassadors, educators, university rectors and writers of the highest level. Valiant soldiers and generals always won the wars against the contenders in power, in 1885, in 1895, in 1902 and consecrated themselves with the attributes of courage, nobility and generosity.
Since 1886 and for 45 consecutive years, the conservative party governed Colombia and lost the presidency due to the division between Vásquez Cobo and Valencia, who together were the majority.
Conservatism filled Colombia with roads and railways. He brought the Kemmerer Mission and created the Bank of the Republic, Social Security, Ecopetrol, El Sena, the Caja Agraria today Banco Agrario, the National Comptroller’s Office, initiated labor benefits for workers and employees and created the National Federation of Coffee Growers. That is, the most important social institutions and services to the Colombian population. Conservatism is social by essence, it is ordered progress and life, it is tolerant, understanding, it is a true selection of the spirit, it is the balance between the totalitarian extremes of the left and the right and between sectarian globalists and armchair progressives.
In 1886, Núñez, Caro and delegates from the States agreed on a non-sectarian national constitution that lasted 105 years and then with the intelligence and capabilities of Álvaro Gómez Hurtado the bases of the new constitution of 1991 were built.
In Economy it is the party of free enterprise, of private initiative, of the free market, all with absolutely necessary interventions, nothing more, very far from populism, Nazi national socialism, socialists, fascists or communist parties.
The great nations with the oldest democratic and republican political architectures have generally been conservative and in Spain, Great Britain, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, conservative majorities have been consolidated at various times.
World thinkers such as Edmund Burke, who is considered one of the fathers of English conservatism, made the world think about the foundations of order with freedom and fought in his time against poorly understood globalizations and populism in power that, as now, debuts its totalitarian garb. .
With the same softness as the beginning I close these letters wishing the Colombian conservative party a happy birthday.