Guillermo Rivera Flórez was sworn in today as Colombia’s new minister of the interior following last week’s resignation of Juan Fernando Cristo. At the official ceremony, President Juan Manuel Santos said he hopes that his new appointee can help ensure that “in the next [election] campaign, peace is not the cause of controversy.”
To do so, the president has tasked Rivera Flórez, who has served as the Ministry of the Interior‘s deputy minister and as a national Congress member from the Liberal Party, with solidifying the structures underlying the peace process finalized late last year with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group.
“You have to do the work, Dr. Guillermo Rivera, to make peace irreversible — more irreversible — as soon as possible, with facts,” said Santos during today’s welcoming of the 47-year-old minister at the Casa de Nariño in Bogotá.
Photo: From left to to right, the outgoing Juan Fernando Cristo, President Juan Manuel Santos, and new Minister of the Interior Guillermo Rivera Flórez. (Credit: Presidencia de la República)
Santos believes that the Externado University-trained layer, who hails from the department of Putumayo where the capital of Mocoa was recently devastated by flash flooding, will be capable of leading strong outreach and advancing “social dialogue” with “different sectors of society.”
Juan Fernando Cristo stepped down last week so he would not be precluded from running as a candidate in the nation’s 2018 elections, said the outgoing minister. While the politician, who served as president of the Senate before joining the Ministry of the Interior, has not announced definitive plans to run for office, he reportedly wanted to leave the administration now in case he decides to put his name on the ballot.
In stepping down, Juan Fernando Cristo has followed the lead of others in recent months. Former Vice President Germán Vargas Lleras stepped down in March, former National Planning Department Director Simón Gaviria Muñoz left the administration earlier this month, and former Colombian Ambassador to the United States Juan Carlos Pinzón resigned from his post in Washington last week.
“I am very sorry that Minister Cristo has left because he has been a great minister, a great teammate, and he has done extraordinary work in government,” said Santos last week.