On Friday, July 22, the president-elect of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, announced that his defense minister will be Iván Velásquez, a well-known human rights activist. He was formerly an auxiliary magistrate of the Supreme Court, in charge of the judicial investigation on the paramilitary-political nexus in Colombia.
Velásquez, 67, who will assume one of the strategic portfolios of Colombia, also served as the head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala from October 2013 to September 2019.
The future minister thanked Petro for the appointment, calling it a great honor.
Agradezco al presidente @petrogustavo la muy honrosa designación que me ha hecho como ministro de defensa. Haré cuanto esté a mi alcance por corresponder a su confianza y ayudarle a construir ese país con el que tanto hemos soñado. Por la vida, por la paz, por la democracia!
— Iván Velásquez Gómez (@Ivan_Velasquez_) July 22, 2022
“I will do everything in my power to honor your trust and help you build the country of which we have dreamed so much. For life, for peace, for democracy!” Velásquez wrote on Twitter, thanking President-elect Petro.
Velásquez, a renowned lawyer and legal expert, was associated with the Supreme Court of Justice as an auxiliary magistrate. During 2006-2012, he coordinated the Investigative Support Commission of the Criminal Justice Chamber which was in charge of investigating the nexus between members of the Colombian Congress and paramilitarism, a scandal known as Parapolítica.
Based on his work, the Supreme Court ordered an investigation of a number of Colombian parliamentarians for crimes against humanity, massacres, targeted assassination, and massive displacements carried out by paramilitary groups.
As a result of that investigation, some 50 congresspersons were sentenced and a dozen more are under investigation or are being tried, and more than 130 are linked to previous investigations, revealing the criminal structures of narco-politicians.
With the appointment of Velásquez, the names of eight ministers have been announced by Petro, who is forming his cabinet and is set to take office on August 7.
In addition to Velásquez, the other ministers already named are Álvaro Leyva Durán, who will be the minister of Foreign Affairs; José Antonio Ocampo, who will head the Treasury; Patricia Ariza, minister of Culture; Carolina Cork, for Health; Cecilia López, for Agriculture; Susana Muhamad, for Environment, and Alejandro Gaviria, for Education.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune