Senator Luis Fernando Velasco, best known for his opposition to high energy prices, was chosen by the Liberal Party and the Senate for the Senate Presidency, the most important leadership position in the legislative body, for the term beginning in 2015, reports local media.
Velasco, a Senator from the southwestern state of Cauca was chosen over fellow Liberal from Bogota, Juan Manuel Galan in exchange for the Senate Presidency, will preside over the first commission of the Senate, a commission that deals with constitutional reform, territorial organization, administrative rules, norms and contracts, as well as determining ethical issues, according to Congreso Visible.
Velasco was investigated for ties to paramilitary groups during Colombia’s para-politics scandal, but was absolved, according to congressional watchdog Congreso Visible. He was detained briefly for the charges against him, but was released when the accusations were found to be false. Velasco previously served as mayor of his hometown Popayan, Cauca and has been in Congress since 1998, and the Senate since 2006, always with the Liberal Party.
Velasco is an outspoken Senator when it comes to issues of energy and their often high costs for Colombians, especially relating to prices of gasoline. He has introduced legislation proposing freezes to the price of gasoline, and dropping the price per gallon by a total of $0.53, to make gasoline prices on par with neighboring countries, according to an article by Colombian economic magazine La Republica.
Senate presidents, who also serve as presidents of congress, change individuals and parties every year. The current Senate President Jose David Name will finish his term on July 20 of next year, where Luis Fernando Velasco will take over. After Velasco’s term, Mauricio Lizcano, also from the U Party will take the role of President, followed by a still unknown candidate from the Conservative Party, according to national radio Caracol.
Galan, known by the Colombian media as a political “dolphin,” a term used to describe children of prominent politicians, because of his father’s involvement in politics, is an outspoken Senator cited by several sources as one of Colombia’s best. Galan is also known for his position in support of the decriminalization of marijuana.
Jose David Name, the current Senate President from the coastal city of Barranquilla from the ruling U Party, has already faced accusations of paramilitary ties, corruption relating to “mermelada,” literally jam. For Colombian politics, spreading the jam relates to spreading public funds, (i.e. tax money used to boost or help a candidates campaign) or to simply add votes when there aren’t any.
- Luis Fernando Velasco será el presidente del Senado en 2015 (Caracol Radio)
- Comisiones (Congreso Visible)
- Cuatro escenarios para bajar el precio de la gasolina (La República)
- Luis Fernando Velasco Cháves (Congreso Visible)