Colombia faces bankruptcy over lawsuits against state

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos claimed Saturday his country will go bankrupt if it loses a quarter of the pending lawsuits against the state.

“If the state loses half or a quarter of all the lawsuits there are today, we go bankrupt. We simply are not able to pay,” said Santos.

The Colombian state faces a total of 1 quadrillion pesos, equal to $530 billion, in lawsuits over human rights violations, negligence, contract violation and mismanagement. The total sum of what is demanded in these lawsuits is twice the country’s gross domestic product and six times the national budget for 2012.

According to Santos, there are “mafias who live off milking the state through all kinds of demands” and are “making a killing” with the lawsuits.

In the last 10 years, the state has lost $1.9 billion in lawsuits with a success rate of only 0.5%.

The president reiterated that Colombia has been losing these lawsuits “because of sheer laziness … Because it is not the money of the public officials but the money of all of us, nobody is interested in defending the state’s interests vehemently.

In November, Santos already announced the creation of the Legal Defense Agency of the State, composed of a director general as well as an advisory board of three lawyers who will determine legal strategies in the different processes.

Former Liberal Party Justice Minister Fernando Carrillo was appointed to lead the agency.

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