The Colombian president, Iván Duque, reorganized his cabinet on Friday with the appointment of new ministers of Labor, Health and Agriculture that will have to deal with part of the demands that led to the social protests of recent months against his Government.
The public accountant Ángel Custodio Cabrera arrives at the Ministry of Labor; the surgeon Fernando Ruiz assumes the portfolio of Health, and the economist Rodolfo Enrique Zea will go to the one of Agriculture, as announced by the Presidency.
Cabrera, of the National Unity Party, replaces Alicia Arango, who as of February 15 will be the Minister of Interior replacing Nancy Patricia Gutierrez, who will assume the Presidential Ministry for Human Rights.
Arango, from the government party, the Democratic Center, received in recent days a shower of criticism for his proposal to implement a hiring system for hours, but especially for the example he used to explain it.
“For example, a systems engineer is not needed all day in the office but for two hours and quotes for two hours,” said the minister.
His statements fell so badly in a country where employment is increasingly precarious and the 2019 unemployment rate was 10.5%, which President Duque himself acknowledged that Arango was wrong in the example he set.
De Cabrera, successor to Arango in the Ministry of Labor, Duque said that “in his public life he has worked for the benefits of community mothers, young people and compensation funds.”
Community mothers are housewives who care for young children in the neighborhood so that their mothers can go to work, while the compensation funds are solidarity-based institutions that manage subsidies and other social benefits for workers.
Among the tasks of Cabrera is to carry out the controversial labor and pension reform, one of the reasons for the protests called by the workers’ centers that ensure that the Government’s economic and social policy goes against the workers.
The new Minister of Labor had the position of delegate of the president to the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI).
With the appointment of Fernando Ruiz, of the Radical Change party, as Minister of Health, Duque resolves the vacancy in which that portfolio was since last December 26 when its owner, Juan Pablo Uribe, resigned.
Ruiz, who served as interim minister, is a surgeon and has a master’s degree in Health Economics from Javeriana University, and another in Public and Occupational Health from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston (USA), as well as a doctorate from the National Institute of Public Health, of Mexico.
The new minister is close to the ex-president Germán Vargas Lleras, head of Radical Change and who as a critic of Duque at the beginning of his Government has come to support him lately.
“We continue in our purpose of appointing technical people in the Government, with extensive experience and great social sense,” Duque said of the appointment of Ruiz.
One of its challenges is to meet the demands of people who ask for greater efficiency and coverage of basic health services.
BUSINESSMAN FOR THE FIELD
As for Rodolfo Zea, the new Minister of Agriculture, he replaces Andrés Valencia, who accompanied Duque from the beginning of his Government and says goodbye to the position with the success of having achieved that the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) in English), re-certify Colombia as a country free of FMD with vaccination.
Zea, from the Conservative Party, is an economist at Universidad de los Andes, a specialist in International Finance and a Master in Business Administration.
The new minister is president of the Agricultural Development Trust Society (Fiduagraria) where he collaborated with the structuring of private capital funds for the field, one of the most backward and unequal sectors of the country.
“With him (Zea) we also want to improve the country’s agricultural exports and have a dynamic investment in the field, which translates into better job opportunities,” said the president.