Santos Forms New Colombian Cabinet – Marginalizes Uribe’s Democratic Center

nsnbc : Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos reshuffled his Cabinet to include a number of leftist MPs. The move comes amidst growing opposition against peace talks with the FARC-EP and ELN from the Democratic Center party led by ex-president Alvaro Uribe, and the recent terror campaign launched by ultra right-wing militants in northern Colombia. Santos won the presidential elections on a peace mandate with support from left-wing parties.

JUan Manuel Santos_ColombiaPresident Juan Manuel Santos decided to reshuffle his Cabinet amidst an economic slowdown of Colombia’s economy. His decision to include members of leftist parties in his new Cabinet is, however, widely perceived as an extension the support Santos received from leftist parties who described their direct or indirect support of Santos during the presidential elections as a mandate for peace.

The administration and the largest leftist guerrilla, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – Peoples’ Army (FARC-EP) are expected to sign a final peace accord this year. The talks in the Cuban capital Havana began in 2012 and have led to several landmark agreements and the aim to transform the FARC into a non-militant political party or movement.

Official peace talks with the second-largest leftist guerrilla, Colombia’s National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN) are scheduled to begin in Ecuador in May.

Ultra right-wing paramilitaries, Los Urabenos, responded almost immediately to the announcement that the government would launch official peace talks with the ELN by starting a protracted campaign in the northern and northwestern provinces of Colombia.

The Democratic Center party led by former president Alvaro Uribe has held a number of protests and denounced what they described as the administration’s exaggerated concessions to the FARC-EP. It is noteworthy that both Alvaro Uribe and his brother Santiago Uribe have been linked to Los Urabenos and right-wing death squads. Santos’ Cabinet reshuffle further marginalized the Democratic Center party and power structures around the Uribe family.

The new Cabinet includes Jorge Eduardo Londono from the Green Alliance as Minister of Justice; Clara Lopez from the Democratic Pole as Minister of Labor; Maria Claudia Lacouture from the U-Party as Minister of Trade; Luis Gilberto Morillo from the Liberal Party as Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development; Elsa Noguera from the Radical Change party as Minister of Housing; German Acre from the Conservative Party s Minister of Mining and Energy; as well as Jorge Eduardo Rojas from the National Salvation Movement as Minister of Transport.

Santos decided to keep several of his ministers from his old Cabinet, which are; Gina Parody from the U-party as Minister of Education; Juan Fernando Cristo from the Liberal Party as Interior Minister; Maria Angela Holguin from the Liberal Party as Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mauricio Cardena from the Conservative Party as Minister of Finance; Luis Carlos Villages from the Liberal Party as Minister of Defense; Aurelio Iragorri from the U-Party as Minister of Agriculture; Alejandro Gaviria from the Liberal Party as Minister of Health; David Luna from the Liberal Party as Minister of Technology; and Maria Garces as Minster of Culture.

CH/L – nsnbc 26.04.2016

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