Colombian Foreign Affairs Minister Álvaro Leyva was suspended from his role for three months by the inspector general for allegedly mishandling the bidding process that would award a private contract to become the next company tasked with printing passports in the Andean nation.
Photo: Colombian Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva. (Credit: Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
While bureaucratic details such as passport issuance particulars normally don’t draw significant attention, Colombians have been suffering for months with long wait times and lines while trying to get or renew a passport.
According to the office of the inspector general, Leyva “violated the law, exhibited capricious behavior, and disregarded the principles of transparency and morality” when he cancelled the bidding process last year in which only one company, incumbent provider Thomas Greg & Sons, submitted a bid. Leyva purportedly lacked the legal and technical foundation to make such a decision and may have violated principles of transparency and responsibility in state contracting.
Thomas Greg & Sons had already filed a lawsuit claiming impropriety before the suspension order came down.
For the inspector general’s office, Tatiana del Carmen Moreno, Jesualdo Villero Payares, and Esiquio Manuel Sánchez are the officials handling the case.
The saga may also be entangled by an interpersonal conflict that Leyva previously had with Martha Lucía Zamora, former director of the State Legal Defense Agency (ADJDE). According to local media outlet Reporte Coronell within W Radio, Leyva took issue with a conciliation that had Zamora reportedly made with Thomas Greg & Sons and it led to a a verbal confrontation. Zamora would later resign.
Juan Manuel Galán, former presidential candidate and brother of the Mayor of Bogotá Carlos Fernando, has called for the removal to be made permanent. “We ask that he be removed from office and that a foreign minister be appointed to lead a strategic policy for the nation,” he said in a publicized video.
Others have made similar calls, and one emerging candidate to take over at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs if Leyva is ousted is Luis Gilberto Murillo, the nation’s current ambassador to the United States. He formerly served as governor of Chocó and minister of environment.