This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

Last Updated:4/13/06
Who's Who in the Colombian Government

Casa de Nariño (Presidency of Colombia)

President: Alvaro Uribe Vélez
Job Description: The President of Colombia is the Chief of State, Chief of Government and the supreme adminstartive authority.

Mr. Uribe ran as an independent and won the first round of presidential elections on May 26, 2002. Uribe has had a long public service career; he has been mayor of Medellín, senator and governor of populous Antioquia department. As a presidential "pre-candidate" during Andrés Pastrana's presidency (1998-2002), Uribe was an outspoken critic of Pastrana's unsuccessful peace talks with the FARC and ELN. Uribe has promised to get tough with the guerrillas. He also has vowed to reconstruct the government, attack corruption and reactivate the economy.

Vice President: Francisco "Pacho" Santos
Job Description: Carries out any missions or special assignments as dictated by the president. These have included advising the president in the areas of Human Rights and the fight against corruption.

Mr. Santos founded the Fundación País Libre, a human rights group focused on the fight against kidnapping, and was part of the organizing comittee for the "No Más"campaign against the war and kidnapping. Santos was also the editor of El Tiempo, Colombia's largest newspaper, which is owned by the Santos family.

High Comisioner for Peace: Luis Carlos Restrepo Ramirez
Job Description:
Is the governments main negotiator when talking to the colombian armed groups.

Accion Social: Luis Alfonso Hoyos
Job Description:
He is in charge of the coordination and development of social action policies proposed by the Colombian government and the foreign relations ministry. He is also in charge of administrating and promoting international cooperation under the foreign relations ministry.

Ministry of Interior and Justice

Minister of Interior and Justice: Sabas Pretelt de la Vega
Job Description: The Uribe administration merged these two ministies. The Ministry of Interior formulates and implements all governance polices. Consequently, it deals with all domestic political issues, peace, basic rights and liberties, citzen participation in the political and social life of the nation, indigenous issues, and the relationship between the nation and all territorial entities. The Ministry of Justice evaluates the country's judicial system, its application, impact and development in order to frame judicial policy.

Mr. Pretelt de la Vega, a member of the Conservative Party, was President of Colombia's powerful National Federation of Commerce (FENALCO). He was also a strong supporter of Mr. Uribe's referendum initiative. The new minister will face a complex legislative agenda, including economic reforms, controversial anti-terrorist legislation and structural reforms to the state.

Ministry of Foreign Relations

Minister of Foreign Relations: Carolina Barco
Job Description: The Ministry of Foreign Relations proposes, coordinates and executes Colombia's foreign policy, under the command of the president. It also administers Colombia's foreign service.

Ms. Barco will have to convince the international community to continue and increase its assistance to Colombia. She will also have to strengthen political relationships with the United States and neighboring countries, particularly Venezuela.


Colombian Ambassador to the United States: Andrés Pastrana
Job Description: The Ambassador is charged with representing Colombia in the United States and managing the Colombian embassy in Washington.

This position is new to Mr. Pastrana, who was president of Colombia from 1998 to 2002.

Ministry of Defense

Minister of Defense: Camilo Alfonso Ospina Bernal
Job Description: Direct the Armed Forces and the National Police.

Commander of the Armed Forces: General Carlos Alberto Ospina Ovalle
Job Description: Comander of the Armed Forces and the National Police.


Army Commander: Gen. Mario Montoya Uribe


Navy Chief: Admiral Mauricio Soto Gómez
Job Description:
He is the maximum authority within the institution which is in charge of the use of force in maritime, riverine and terrestrial spaces under its responsibility.

Air Force Chief of Staff: General Edgar Alfonso Lésmez Abad

Police Chief General: Jorge Daniel Castro Castro


Ministry of Finance

Minister of Domestic Finance: Alberto Carrasquilla Barrera
Job Description: Develop all state policies regarding managing federal finances, collecting taxes, managing Government accounts and the public debt and enforcing finance and tax laws.

Mr. Carrasquilla has the great challenge of moving the economy forward while tightening government spending and increasing taxes. He is likely to face strong opposition in Congress as he continues to push for tax reform.

Prior to becoming Minister Carrasquilla was Dean of the School of Economics at the Universidad de los Andes.

Ministry of Commerce

Minister of Commerce: Jorge Humberto Botero
Job Description: The Uribe administration has merged the Ministry of Economic Development and Foreign Commerce under this heading.

The new minister will develop economic policies to further economic and social development. He will also direct, coordinate and execute all foreign economic policy, in coordination with domestic programs.

Mr. Botero, a lawyer with an extensive background in the private and public sectors, served as judicial secretary for the Barco administration (1986-1990) and has been the president of ASOBANCARIA and ASOFONDOS.

Ministry of Labor and Health

Ministry of Labor and Health: Diego Palacio
Job Description: The Uribe Administration also merged these two offices. The new minister will be charged with coordinating, formulating, and directing all policies dealing with work, labor, and social security. He will also deal with formulating all programs, plans and projects dealing with the health care system, scientific and adminstrative norms to promote health, treatment of diseases, and rehabilitation programs.

As Minister of Labor his job will focus on employment, as the Uribe administration has committed itself to creating 2.5 million jobs during its four years. In Congress he will be charged with spearheading the debate around pension reform.

As Minister of Health he will have to deal with the financial crisis of hospitals and clinics throughout Colombia.

Ministry of Mines and Energy

Minister of Mines and Energy: Luis Ernesto Mejía Castro
Job Description:
Responsible for the oversight and development of all technical, economic, judicial, industrial and commercial activities regarding the use of natural resources and energy sources throughout the country in accordance with the national development plan.

Mr Mejía's number one priority will be to deal with the country's energy sector crisis; he knows and understands this sector very well, as he was vice-minister in the Pastrana government.

Ministry of Transportation

Minister of Transportation: Andres Uriel Gallego
Job Description:
Oversee and execute all national policy in the areas of transportation and infrastructure.

Mr. Gallego will have to rethink strategies set forth by previous governments, many of which have proven very expensive. He will also be charged with the continued implementation of programs financed with Plan Colombia funds, such as "Roads for Peace."

Ministry of Agriculture

Minister of Agriculture: Andres Felipe Arias
Job Description:
Formulate and implement all policies pertaining to farming and fisheries.

Ministry of Education

Minister of Education: Cecilia María Vélez
Job Description:
Formulate policies, programs, plans and objectives to adequatly gurantee the best possible education service.

Ms. Vélez will have to deal with a number of challenges, such as increasing public schools' coverage. She will also seek to establish mandatory evaluations for teachers and students and minimum achievement standards.

Ministry of Environment

Minister of Environment: Sandra Suárez
Job Description:
Define policies and regulations to guarantee the appropriate management and use of all renewable natural resources and the environment.

Ms. Suárez, Uribe's former director for implementing Plan Colombia, is charged with protecting Colombia's environment. With only 15 months of public experience, Ms. Suárez will face significant challenges.

Ministry of Communications

Minister of Communication: Martha Elena Pinto de Hart
Job Description:
Coordinate the services that are part of the communications sector, establish rules and dictate norms that regulate the sector's functioning.

Ms. Hart will be very busy dealing with pending legislation set in motion by the previous administration.

Ministry of Culture

Minister of Culture: Elvira Cuervo de Jaramillo
Job Description:
Coordinate the formation of the "new citizen" as established by Articles 1-18 of Law 188 of 1995.


Attorney General's Office

Attorney General : Mario Germán Iguarán
Job Description:
He is the maximum authority within the institution and represents it amoung the public authorities and citizens.


Procurator General's Office

Procurador General (Internal Affairs): Edgardo Maya Villazón

Public Defender (Ombudsman)

Public Defender: Volmar Antonio Pérez Ortis
Job Description:
He is the maximum authority within the institution. He is in charge of impulsing human rights in an efective way throughout the nation.

Supreme Court

President of the Constitutional Court: Manuel José Cepeda
Job Description:
He is the maximum authority within the institution.


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