Colombia’s President-elect Juan Manuel Santos announced Wednesday that his defense minister will be former Liberal senator Rodrigo Rivera, while Cambio Radical’s German Vargas Lleras will manage the Andean nation’s portfolio for the interior.
Santos’ announcement follows intense speculation in the Colombian media as to which of the two would receive the defense portfolio. The president-elect’s naming of Vargas Lleras as Minister for the Interior was an unexpected development.
Vargas Lleras’ appointment is somewhat controversial. Earlier Wednesday current Vice President Francisco Santos said that offering Vargas Lleras a position in cabinet would be “like letting the mouse look after the cheese.” He branded the Cambio Radical leader a “traitor” with “no loyalties except to himself,” referring to Vargas Lleras’ vocal opposition to a referendum seeking the re-election of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Prior to the referendum controversy Vargas Lleras had been a stringent Uribe supporter.
Vargas Lleras came third in this year’s race for the Colombian presidency. For a full bio on the seasoned politician, click here.
Rivera is a lawyer and a Colombian politician, who has also worked in the Colombian media. Before becoming the defence minister he was a Pereira city councillor, and held terms both in Colombia’s House of Representatives and the Senate
After unsuccessfully running for the presidency with the Colombian Liberal Party in 2006, he became the political manager of Juan Manuel Santos’ presidential campaign and he is presently helping with the transition between the outgoing and incoming Ministry of the Interior and Justice.
Santos described Rivera as “a person who knows how to seek consensus, but also knows how to be firm when its necessary.”
Vargas Lleras and Rivera will join Education Minister Maria Fernanda Campo, Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, Finance Minister Juan Carlos Echeverry, Transport Minister German Cardona, Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo Salazar, Trade Minister Sergio Diaz Granados and Minister for Mining and Energy Carlos Rodado Noriega in the Santos cabinet.