Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos admitted Monday he bungled the handling of a failed controversial justice reform that forced the resignation of his justice minister and frustrated relations between the government and its congress coalition.
In an interview published in El Tiempo, Santos said, “Of course we have been wrong and we will make the necessary corrections.”
Referring to the former Justice Minister Juan Carlos Esguerra, who resigned on June 22, Santos said, “The grave error was that the minister supported the settlement without being aware of its repercussions.”
The Santos administration initially proposed the justice reform, a mammoth initiative that would have had fundamentally altered the structure and jurisdiction of the judiciary. However, congress significantly modified the bill, generating fears that it would lead to impunity for crimes committed by politicians and other public officials.
Ultimately, amid heated criticism, Santos forced the legislature to scrap the bill. The failure to steer through the reform strained relations between the executive and the legislature as both branches of government blamed the other for the failing of the reform.
The interview followed a Detacxo poll that indicated a sharp decline in Santos’ popularity since April. Yet in a manner reminiscent and befitting of politicians everywhere, Santos dismissed his falling poll numbers saying, “The polls are to listen to, not to govern…”