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Who is who in the Government of Gustavo Petro


The future president has prioritized the appointment of key portfolios such as Economy and Defense, but has left the bulk for the last moment

Cabinet of Gustavo Petro.

The cabinet of ministers of a president sends a political message, depending on the forces that are represented in it and in which portfolios, and also on the style of government and the priorities with which he begins his administration.

This Friday, 48 hours after Gustavo Petro's inauguration in Colombia, these are the profiles of the eight ministers he has appointed.

Álvaro Leyva Durán (Bogotá, 79 years old)

Minister of Foreign Affairs

A conservative political veteran, since the 1980s he has concentrated on promoting different negotiation processes with illegal armed actors.

His appointment marks both the participation of sectors of the traditional elites in the Petro Government, the importance of the commitment to peace and the commitment to experience.

Leyva knows power from the inside (he was private secretary to President Misael Pastrana in the 1970s, congressman and Minister of Mines in the 1980s, member of the Constituent Assembly in the early 1990s) and has good relationships between facilitators of previous negotiation processes. like the Catholic Church.

He will be a key figure in reestablishing relations with Venezuela and carrying out parallel negotiations with the ELN guerrillas and other armed groups such as the Clan del Golfo to achieve the "total peace" that Petro has announced.

Jose Antonio Ocampo (Cali, 69 years old)

Minister of Finance

He is a well-known social democratic economist, with a track record in the public sector and in international entities.

His appointment marks the arrival of experience and a more moderate look at the first government elected by left-wing parties in Colombia, something that has helped reassure market players who view a change in economic policy in the country with concern.

With a doctorate from Yale University, he was director of the influential Fedesarrollo think tank, Minister of Agriculture under César Gaviria and Minister of Finance under Ernesto Samper.

He was Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations in 2007 and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

He is co-director and professor of the Specialization in Economic and Political Development at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.

However, the new minister is currently on work leave, since he continues to be linked to this University.

Iván Velázquez Gómez (Medellín, 67 years old)

Minister of Defense

Known for having been the main investigator of parapolitics in the Supreme Court of Justice, his appointment is a message of fight against corruption and respect for Human Rights in the portfolio that manages the military, but also a political provocation to Uribism, who sees him as a political rival.

Criminal graduate from the University of Antioquia, he made a career in his department as a prosecutor and solicitor in the 1980s and 1990s, when drug-trafficking, guerrilla and paramilitary violence intensified in the region.

His work in defense of Human Rights led him to leave for Bogotá at the end of the 1990s, and shortly after he entered the Supreme Court, where he coordinated the investigations that have led to the conviction of more than 50 congressmen and former congressmen, in most of them allies of the then president, Álvaro Uribe.

Persecuted by the defunct Administrative Department of Security (DAS), the political police, in 2012 he left the country and became the head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, an independent UN entity to investigate high-level corruption. in that country.

After uncovering cases that revealed corruption in high levels of the Executive, President Jimmy Morales did not allow him to return to Guatemala and then closed the CICIG in 2019.

Cecilia López Montaño (Bogotá, 79 years old)

Minister of Agriculture

Economist with a long public career as a social democrat in the Liberal Party.

Among others, she was Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Ambassador to The Hague for Belisario Betancur;

director of the extinct Institute of Social Security of the liberal César Gaviria;

Minister of Agriculture and Environment, and National Director of Planning of the also liberal Ernesto Samper, with whom she is very close politically and ideologically;

and senator and presidential candidate of that party.

She is an expert in agrarian matters, especially in social policies, agrarian reform and the land market, matters in which she has worked as a researcher.

She will have the challenge of implementing the agrarian reform that Petro proposes and that is foreseen in point 1 of the agreement with the FARC.

Carolina Corcho (Medellin, 39 years old)

Minister of Health

Medical, psychiatrist and political scientist, her appointment is one of the bets on youth and the change of both political vision and power actors.

Harsh criticism of the health system, he proposes a more public one in which the private insurance role disappears through the elimination of the Health Promoting Entities (EPS), something that could remain in the system reform proposal that Petro has announced but for present to Congress in 2023.

She was director of social participation at the Bogotá Health Secretariat when Gustavo Petro was mayor.

And then, from her position as vice president of the Colombian Medical Federation, she criticized decisions by Alejandro Gaviria as Minister of Health of the Santos Government and Fernando Ruiz in that same position with the Duque Government.

Alejandro Gaviria (Santiago, Chile, 56 years old)

Minister of Education

Economist, academic and now politician, the failed presidential candidate of the center coalition that faced Gustavo Petro in March came to the cabinet as a sign of Gustavo Petro's political openness and also of moderation in his political position.

Gaviria, a civil engineer with a master's degree and a doctorate in economics, had a traditional career as an economic technocrat.

Among others, he was deputy director of the National Planning Department, in the government of Álvaro Uribe, researcher at the Fedesarrollo think tank, and professor and dean of the Faculty of Economics at the Universidad de Los Andes.

He was Minister of Health of the Santos Government, between 2012 and 2018, representing the Liberal Party.

In that position, he defended the current Colombian health system, strongly criticized by sectors of the left, including Petro's designated health minister.

This is because he has an important participation of the private sector not only in the provision of services, but also in insurance through the Health Promotion Entities (EPS).

Susana Muhammad (Barranquilla, 45 years old)

Environment Minister

A political scientist with a master's degree in sustainable development, her appointment is one of the signs of Gustavo Petro's commitment to having a dose of youth and closeness in his cabinet, since she will be the minister who has worked the most with him.

Muhamad has spent almost his entire career with the president: he worked in his three campaigns for the presidency (2010, 2018, 2022), was his secretary general and Secretary of the Environment in Bogotá, and a councilor for his party, Colombia Humana, of which he was President.

Patricia Ariza (Velez, Santander, 76 years old)

Minister of Culture

Artist, poet, playwright and theater director, and a long-standing left-wing activist, her appointment is a sign of recognition of the traditional left and of the sector's experience.

As an artist committed to politics, she co-founded the Teatro de la Candelaria, directed the Colombian Theater Corporation and founded the Women on Stage for Peace Festival.

It is her first time in public office, but she has very clear ideas of her goals as chancellor.

She will promote a story that helps transform the preconceptions that Colombians have about the war and bring culture and art to the most distant areas of the country.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2022-08-05

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