Days after a complete reorganization of the military command, Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos may change his cabinet within the week, newspaper La Republica reported on Wednesday.
Reports suggest that as many as five of his important ministers will be relieved of their posts over reported poor management, Bogota parochialism, as a reaction to the 10-point drop in popularity that Santos suffered since June.
The ministers for foreign affairs, trade, justice, labor and mining, are expected to be replaced on Friday afternoon during the closing of the National Assembly of Businessmen, according to La Republica.
Mining Minister Federico Renjifo has long been criticized for his handling of ongoing strikes in the mostly informal mining sector that threaten to be accompanied by an accumulation of strikes planned to begin on Monday.
Renjifo is expected to be replaced by Orlando Cabrales, currently the deputy mining minister, said the newspaper.
Ruth Stella Correa, the current Justice Minister, could make way for Interior Minister Fernando Carrillo, who held the post from 1991 to 1992. His role at the Interior Ministry would probably be taken by current Work Minister Alfonso Gomez Mendez.
Carrillo is not uncontroversial; Former president Andres Pastrana (1998 – 2002) accused the minister of having had links with drug-baron Pablo Escobar during his time as Justice Minister in the 1990s. Additionally, the Minister has profiled himself as a hardliner within the Santos administration in response to increasing social unrest in numerous rural parts of the country.
The changes come at a potentially explosive circumstances as striking miners on Monday will be joined by students, teachers, health workers, truckers, and a variety of agricultural workers. Additionally, the president is facing an almost constant drop in approval and increasingly fierce opposition by former President Alvaro Uribe while trying to engage in peace talks with the country’s oldest rebel group, the FARC.
On Monday, the President unexpectedly replaced his entire military command and assigned a new director for the National Police. According to political commentators, the move could be to cut traditionally strong ties between the military and Santos’ predecessor.
In August 2012, half way his term, Santos spectacularly demanded the mass resignation of his cabinet after his popular support plummeted.