Colombia replaces foreign minister over passport scandal

Luis Murillo

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro has replaced Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva, who was suspended over his handling of a controversial contract to print passports.

Petro appointed Luis Gilberto Murillo as Leyva’s permanent replacement.

Murillo had been acting foreign minister and ambassador in the United States since January when the Inspector General’s Office first suspended Leyva.

The president is expected to appointed to appoint a new ambassador to Washington DC in the coming days.

Murillo on two occasions was elected governor of the western Choco province and was a mayor player in the governments of former President Juan Manuel Santos (2010 – 2018).

The foreign minister first joined the Santos administration as the director of a program to empower Colombia’s black minority and was appointed Environment Minister in 2016.

Murillo was the running mate of liberal candidate Sergio Fajardo in the 2022 elections and was sent to Washington to lobby Petro’s “Government of Change” after the president took office.

The foreign minister has since played a major role in aligning the two countries’ counternarcotics policies and negotiating changes to the US-Colombia free trade pact.

Murillo took over amid escalating tensions between Petro and the administration of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

These tensions resulted in Petro’s decision to cut all diplomatic ties with the western Asian country earlier this month.

The foreign minister has also been involved in the reestablishing of ties with Venezuela and Petro’s attempt to mediate a solution to an ongoing political crisis in Colombia’s neighbor to the east.

Related posts

Corruption cost Colombia’s disaster management agency at least $60M: comptroller

Runner up in Colombia’s presidential election sentenced to 5 years over corruption

Colombia’s teachers strike over pending education reform