Before departing for Mexico, the first stop in his Latin America tour, Colombia’s President-elect Juan Manuel Santos named Mauricio Santamaria, the current director of the national foundation for education and development (Fedesarrollo), as minister for public health in his incoming cabinet.
Santamaria has held various positions in Colombia’s National Planning Department, as head of division, director of social development, director of infrastructure and energy, subdirector general and vice minister of planning.
The economist has a Masters from the Universidad de los Andes and a PhD in economy from Georgetown University, as well experience in research and design of public policy in the areas of employment, education, health and social security.
Santamaria has also participated in the evaluation of social programs both nationally and in Mexico and Argentina. He also held the role of Senior Economist for the World Bank’s poverty unit.
Santos also indicated that Cristina Pardo will assume the role of the Presidency’s Judicial Secretary. Pardo was an auxiliary magistrate to the country’s Constitutional Court.
Santos heads to Mexico for the first stop in his diplomatic tour of Latin America. His first official appointment will be a meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon Thursday morning.
After Mexico, the president-elect will also visit Panama, Chile, Peru, Argentina, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Santos will meet with Panama’s President Ricardo Marinelli on Friday, Chile’s Sebastian Piñera and Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner on Monday and Peru’s Alan Garcia on Tuesday. He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holuin.
Following his June 20 election, Santos had already visited several countries in Europe and met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Santos has previously named Beatriz Uribe as his minister for the environment, housing and development, until the portfolio is divided. Marine biologist Sandra Bessudo, whom Santos had named as environment minister, will now take the position of vice minister for the environment.
They join Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, Finance Minister Juan Carlos Echeverry, Transport Minister German Cardona, Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo Salazar, Trade Minister Sergio Diaz Granadosand Minister for Mining and Energy Carlos Rodado Noriega in the Santos cabinet.