Latin America & Caribbean

Your advice to Colombia's new President Juan Manuel Santos

President Alvaro Uribe, right, decorates Colombia's President-elect Juan Manuel Santos with the National Merit Order
Image caption Santos succeeds Uribe as president on 7 August

Juan Manuel Santos takes over from Alvaro Uribe as president of Colombia on Saturday.

Mr Santos has promised to continue Mr Uribe's tough line on security.

Many commentators see security as just one of the many issues he must tackle over the next four years.

Here, Colombians offer their advice for the incoming leader and discuss what they think are the main challenges facing the new president.

Raul Forero, Bogota

Uribe achieved so much more for Colombia than previous presidents, particularly on the issue of security.

However, there are still many challenges facing Santos which were not accomplished by the Uribe government.

Santos needs to improve employment opportunities and healthcare, he also needs to continue to safeguard security and the economy.

The main pressing issue he inherits from Uribe is the relationship with Venezuela and Chavez, who is looking for ways to distract people from his own domestic problems by provoking Colombia.

He must also finish the job Uribe started against guerrillas, drugs and armed groups.

Uribe did a lot of the dirty work. My advice to Mr Santos is to try and improve on it.

Carlos Botero, Cucuta

I think the most pressing and important issue facing President-elect Santos and his government will be dealing with the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez.

The abuse of commerce and trade between the two countries to try to blackmail the Colombian government and its people is the main ongoing problem for our country.

My advice to President-elect Santos is to tread carefully and carry a big stick, to work for peace and national security, and to improve the lives of all Colombians.

He must not let his guard down as I believe he will be facing many dangerous situations with Hugo Chavez and his war games and power tactics.

Andres Felipe, Medellin

I have lived through many transitions in my country's history, such as the drug war between 1980 and 1990, which was the worst time in our lives.

I saw good friends of mine die and corruption was prevalent in Colombia.

Now we have peace and can take vacations without being afraid of being kidnapped by Farc or any other criminal group.

I liked Uribe because he had the same problems and concerns as everybody else and he managed to bring calm and prosperity back to Colombia.

Right now we have international investors, tourism has risen by 40%, and people look at Colombia through different eyes.

Mr Santos has good knowledge of how to manage the economy.

He is also very strong on security policies and I know want to see him continue with the security policies that Mr Uribe established.

Hopefully one day Colombian society can enjoy life fully and future generations can have the things we never had.

Gustavo Adolfo Angel Murillo, Bogota

I truly think that the guerrilla issue is not the biggest problem facing Juan Manuel Santos.

This is important because one of his campaign pledges was that he would continue the security policies of President Alvaro Uribe.

As [Farc leader] Alfonso Cano recently said, if the causes of the rebellion continue, there will be no end to the rebel conflict, independent of the protagonists.

This expression symbolises the challenges faced by Santos.

He must stop the social inequalities. In Bogota, the richest live side-by-side with the poorest people in Latin America.

He must also stop government corruption immediately and avoid judicial impunity.

Once he accomplishes these challenges, it will be easier to end the rebel conflict and this absurd war.

Jorge Patino, Bogota

President-elect Santos must maintain Uribe's achievements against Farc, ELN and the paramilitaries.

However, urban crime is rising and the national government should help local mayors tackle it.

We need to restore our diplomatic and commercial ties with Ecuador and Venezuela, which are our main markets, apart from the US.

Relationships with Ecuador are healing but they are getting worse with Venezuela.

If Venezuela stops all its commercial restrictions on Colombian goods, employment figures will start to improve.

Uribe didn't manage his foreign relations well, especially within Latin America. We have become too US-oriented.

The gap between rich and poor grew during the Uribe years.

It is the widest in Latin America right now and needs addressing.

On top of the list, well above Farc and drugs, the most pressing issue is unemployment.

Right now, inflation is low, but unemployment is high.

Santos should be able to make Congress approve his employment bill, which was one of his campaigns proposals.

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