The colour of Petro’s cabinet

By: León Valencia for @infobae

Translation by: María Victoria Ramírez


At the time of writing this article, Petro already has eight ministers: José Antonio Ocampo in finance, Álvaro Leyva in foreign affairs, Alejandro Gaviria in Education, Carolina Corcho in Health, Cecilia López in Agriculture, Patricia Ariza in Culture, Susana Muhamad in environment and sustainable development and Francia Márquez, vice president of the republic, for the new ministry of equality and women. A little more than half of the ministers are still to be designated, although names are already sounding for these positions. Those designated give for a first analysis about where the composition of the cabinet is going.


All these ministers moved in the last elections in the two leftist coalitions, the (El Pacto Histórico) Historical Pact and (La Coalición de la Esperanza) the Coalition of Hope, the first more ideologically defined, the second more towards the centre of the political spectrum. Some -starting with Álvaro Leyva- militated in the traditional parties, but in the last twenty years, in the shake-up that Álvaro Uribe Vélez hit Colombian politics by unequivocally raising the flags of the right, all were located on the left wing.


If he maintains this colour in the new appointments, the cabinet will definitely be the other side of the Uribe’s governments. But he will also depart from Santos' economic orthodoxy.


Until now, the representation of Cesar Gaviria's Liberal Party, which very soon announced its support for the new government, has not appeared. Neither are people related to the Conservative Party, Radical Change (Cambio Radical) and the U Party (Partido de la U), groups that in declarations after the second round stated that they would not go to the opposition.


The strangest thing is that a representation of the Green Party (Partido Verde) has not yet appeared, despite the fact that a fraction of that force supported Gustavo Petro since the referendum and the first round; and another faction, which includes Claudia López and Ariel Avila, supported him in the second round, helping him to consolidate the great victory in Bogotá.


Most have held ministries or important public positions and have played a relevant role in national life, which means that Petro is appealing to well-known figures and experienced people in politics and, at least, in this first stage of his government. , he wants to privilege experience over youth.


They are people with a lot of character who do not hide their thoughts and do not turn them down easily either, so Petro will have interlocutors with their own ideas, with thoughtful strategies, with discursive skills, who will test the president's ability to listen and collectively define every day plans and programs. It will have to do the same in its relations with the Congress that will be installed on July 20th with such a diverse composition.


The participation of women in the cabinet has been faithfully guarded. They have five quotas out of eight. It is an indication that gender equality will be respected. There is no other way. Because the female vote in the last stretch of the campaign was very important and also because there is already a special sensitivity in the country on this issue.


Now, Petro, in the announcements of each appointment, included a condensed summary of the work of those designated and there he marked the terrain of the transformations that they had to carry out. He did it with the first of those named -Álvaro Leyva- to whom he commended the task of putting the foreign ministry in function of peace.


The ministers he lacks are not unimportant. But the big headache is the definition of the Minister of Defense. He or she should be a civilian so as not to return to the time of ministers coming out of the military ranks. He or she will have the mission of recovering the leadership that the current minister has lost over the generals. Diego Molano strangely became a spokesman for the Military leadership and a defender of their mistakes, and that is too serious for the leadership of the Armed Forces.


Another no less complicated mission of the new Ministry of Defense will be to recover the unity of the ranks and agree with them on a deep reform of the Armed Forces to bring them in tune with the Post-Conflict and the political alternation between right and left. It is not a secret to anyone that the peace agreements, the serious violations of human rights and the notorious acts of corruption have opened deep discussions among the country's officers and have broken the unity of command that is so essential in the military establishment.