Colombia’s President Ivan Duque has ignored calls to share power with the center right and added another ally of his political patron to his cabinet.
Instead, the president appointed Claudia Blum in charge of the Foreign Ministry.
Duque sticks to loyal plutocrats
Since taking office in August last year, Duque has refused to share power with politicians from outside his minority coalition of conservative and far-right parties.
This political strategy has widely been considered a disaster as the government was unable to push legislation through congress.
The resignation of Defense Minister Guillermo Botero last week, and growing opposition to Duque’s policies in Congress provided an opportunity to change this strategy and strengthen ties to the center right voting bloc. The president decided differently.
Blum has always been loyal to Duque’s political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, and is a member of the same Cali elite as outgoing Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, who replaced Botero as the head of Defense.
Uribe appointed the incoming foreign minister Colombia’s ambassador to the United Nations in 2006.
Blum and her husband, the CEO of Colombia’s biggest pharmaceutical company were among the biggest private donors to Duque’s 2018 presidential campaign.
No sharing of power amid paralyzing opposition
The appointment of Blum comes amid major turmoil both domestically and internationally.
Duque’s unpopular policies and his resistance to the peace process agreed by his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos with demobilized FARC guerrillas have destroyed public support and created tensions with the international community.
The president’s far-right Democratic Center party received a beating in local elections last month and Duque is visibly fearful of anti-government protests planned for next week.
Trujillo’s hardly diplomatic tenure as foreign minister have escalated tensions with the international community and the United Nations in particular.
Blum, who spent the past few years working at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington DC, may be more equipped to maintain more cordial relations abroad.
However, Duque’s refusal to share power with parties from outside his minority coalition, is likely to change nothing about his inability to effectively govern.