February 1, 2023

Who will be the ministers of Gustavo Petro’s government cabinet?

Read Time:8 Minute, 10 Second

(CNN Spanish) — The elected president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, has outlined little by little what his government will be, with the appointment of some ministers.

Bit by bit, Petro —who was elected in the June 19 elections— is announcing the officials who will lead the ministries in the government that begins on August 7.

Ministry of Defense – Ivan Velasquez

Lawyer Iván Velásquez, born in Medellín, has a long history in the Colombian judicial system and as commissioner of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala.

In Colombia, during the 1990s, he led investigations against Pablo Escobar. In 2017, as assistant magistrate of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Colombia, Velásquez investigated the links of congressmen with paramilitarism and obtained the conviction of more than 50.

In 2013 he took office in the UN commission for the fight against corruption in Guatemala, but four years later then President Jimmy Morales decided to expel him.

Velásquez has the challenge of removing the National Police from the Ministry of Defense, as proposes the president-electso that it becomes a civil body and forms part of the Ministry of Justice or the Interior.

Read more about Ivan Velasquez

Ministry of Education – Alejandro Gaviria

The president-elect announced that Alejandro Gaviria will be the Minister of Education and said that among his challenges were “achieving public and free higher education”, “public university centers of excellence focused on research” and “substantially increasing the number of boys and girls in preschool.”

Gaviria thanked the appointment in a tweet: “I promise to work for a change for life, for inclusion, the generation of opportunities and reconciliation,” he said.

Alejandro Gaviria was deputy director of Fedesarrollo and the National Planning Department. He was Minister of Health during the government of Juan Manuel Santos and was rector of the Universidad de los Andes from 2019 to 2021, when he resigned to launch his presidential candidacy. Gaviria ended up joining the internal consultation of the Centro Esperanza coalition and in the second round of the presidential elections announced his support for Petro.

Gaviria is a civil engineer, has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, and is the author of several books of literature and poetry.

Read more about Alejandro Gaviria

Ministry of Health – Carolina Corcho

Carolina Corcho is a doctor, psychiatrist and political scientist. She studied Medicine at the National University of Colombia. She was born in Medellín, Antioquia, and works as a “researcher in Public Health and social issues,” according to her Twitter account.

Corcho is vice president of the Colombian Medical Federation. She was a consultant for the Pan American Health Organization and an evaluator for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, director of Social Participation and Citizen Services of the Bogotá Secretariat of Health, and undersecretary in charge of Territorial Management in Health, also of Bogotá, among other charges.

Read more about Carolina Corcho

Ministry of the Environment – Susana Muhammad

Susana Muhamad is an environmental activist and current councilor of Bogotá. She was Secretary of the Environment during the Mayor’s Office of Petro (2012-2015).

Muhamad is director of Climate Planning for 9 Latin American cities to comply with the Paris Agreement, according to her website.

The activist was already part of the Petro joint team in the environmental sector.

Ministry of Agriculture – Cecilia López Montaño

Cecilia López Montaño will be the new minister in the Agriculture portfolio. López Montaño is a former senator, economist and was born in Barranquilla.

He has extensive experience in the public sector, in addition to his time in Congress. In fact, she was already Minister of Agriculture during the government of Ernesto Samper (1994-1998). She was also Minister of the Environment and Ambassador of Colombia to the Netherlands.

López Montaño thanked the appointment on his Twitter account

Ministry of Culture – Patricia Ariza

This Monday, July 4, President-elect Gustavo Petro announced a new appointment through his Twitter account: Patricia Ariza, new Minister of Culture.

Petro said that with the appointment of Ariza there will be “an explosion of culture throughout Colombia for Peace and coexistence. A culture for identity to revitalize diverse Colombianness.”

Ariza is 76 years old, was born in Santander, is a poet, artist, actress and playwright. She studied Arts at the National University of Colombia and was the founder of the Teatro de la Candelaria in Bogotá, a cultural institution in Colombia that she currently directs.

The new minister shared a message on her Twitter account thanking her for the appointment:

“Thank you President Petro for valuing culture and art. Thanks to the artists of this country who give us their support. Thanks to my theater friends. We will try to ensure that culture and art contribute to peace and inclusion” , wrote.

Ministry of Finance — José Antonio Ocampo

Petro Jose Antonio Ocampo

Gustavo Petro and José Alberto Ocampo, the next Minister of Economy of Colombia. (Credit: TwitterR / Gustavo Petro)

José Antonio Ocampo will be Colombia’s next finance minister and his goal will be “to build a productive economy and an economy for life,” Petro said upon announcing his election to the country’s economic portfolio.

José Antonio Ocampo is currently the co-director of the Economic and Political Development Specialization at the School of International and Public Affairs, a member of the Committee on Global Thought, and co-chair of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia University.

He is also the chairman of the Committee for Development Policy, an expert committee of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc).

Ocampo has a BA in Economics and Sociology from the University of Notre Dame in 1972 and a Ph. Colombia, and as a visiting professor at the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Yale.

This is a key announcement that has been very well received by various sectors, since Ocampo’s trajectory is a signal for the market economy and investors, at the same time that it is considered as a support for the management of the progressive agenda of Petro.

Read more about Jose Antonio Ocampo

Foreign Ministry — Álvaro Leyva

This was Petro’s first cabinet appointment. At the time of your announcement on June 25the president-elect said that Leyva’s office will be “a Foreign Ministry of Peace”, adding that the country “will contribute all its efforts to the world to overcome the climate crisis and we expect all the efforts from the world to overcome our endemic violence.”

Álvaro Leyva is a politician of conservative origin. He was a promoter of the peace agreement in Havana between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC guerrillas; he was Minister of Mines and Energy in the government of Belisario Betancourt (1982-1986). He was also a presidential candidate for the Conservative Party in 2014.
Leyva will be key in Colombia’s foreign relations that will take a turn with respect to the current government of Iván Duque, as Petro announced the normalization of bilateral relations with Venezuela, which had been broken for years.

Ambassador to the US – Luis Gilberto Murillo

Luis Gilberto Murillo is a new face at the Colombian Embassy in the US Gustavo Petro appointed him as the next ambassador after the resignation of Juan Carlos Pinzón. Murillo, who lived and worked in Washington and was Sergio Fajardo’s vice-presidential candidate, will occupy what is one of the most important diplomatic positions in the country.

Read more about Luis Gilberto Murillo

More appointments expected

After months of electoral campaign and two presidential rounds, Petro is carrying out the connection with the government of Iván Duque and is expected to make more announcements from his ministers in the coming days.

Meanwhile, local media report that both the president-elect and the vice president, Francia Márquez, will be on vacation before their presidential inauguration on August 7.

— With information from Gerardo Lemos, Ana Cucalón, Sebastián Jiménez and Melissa Velásquez from CNN en Español.

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