Colombia: Why is Alberto Carrasquilla Minister of Environment Ad Hoc?

Alberto Carrasquilla, Minister of Finance and Public Credit, has been appointed as Minister of Environment Ad Hoc. Here we tell you why .

Alberto Carrasquilla

Alberto Carrasquilla / Photo: Presidency

LatinAmerican Post | Alberto Castaño

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Leer en español: Colombia: ¿Por qué nombraron a Alberto Carrasquilla ministro de medio ambiente Ad Hoc?

Alberto Carrasquilla, Minister of Finance and Public Credit in Colombia, has been designated by the President of the Republic as Ad Hoc Minister of Environment to issue a binding technical concept before the Technical Advisory Council of the National Environmental Licensing Authority, in reference to the project of gold extraction in the province of Sotonorte in Santander, near the Páramo de Santurbán.

On September 30, on the advice of ministers, the President of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, accepted the impediment presented by Ricardo Lozano Picón, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development in exercise, to pronounce himself in reference to said project in his homeland, Santander.

The impediment

It is not because he was born in the capital of that department that Lozano Picón refrains from issuing a technical concept in reference to the particular issue.

The minister, known for having been the director of the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM, in Spanish), consultant on issues related to water and director of the National Water Center of the National Business Association (ANDI, in Spanish), among other positions, preferred to take a step back in the controversial project.

When asking Lozano about the reasons for his motivation, he merely issued an official response to public opinion in general.

“Before becoming Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, when I served as director of the National Water Center of ANDI, between June 2017 and July 2018, I attended several meetings convened by said Association in which advice and recommendations were given to MINESA in the prevention of risks, mitigation of impacts and the environmental and sustainable management of natural and social resources for the SOTONORTE project ”, noted the minister.

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That is, as Director of the National Water Center of the National Association of Industrialists (ANI, in Spanish), he issued recommendations to the company MINESA, which intends the gold exploitation in this ecosystem of cloud forest near the moor. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to issue favorable or adverse concept in reference to that particular project.

Minister of Environment Ad Hoc

To replace Lozano Picón, President Duque appointed Alberto Carrasquilla Barrera as Minister of Environment Ad Hoc to issue the concept that the National Environmental Licensing Authority (ANLA, in Spanish) expects in reference to one of the largest, economically important and at the same time, most controversial gold mining projects which jeopardizes the protection of high mountains and water resources in the ecosystem.

This decision aroused all kinds of adverse reactions in the sector of those organizations and citizens dedicated to the care and protection of the environment.


The former Minister of the Environment, Manuel Rodríguez Becerra, affirmed that "the most prudent thing that President Iván Duque can do is to change (Alberto) Carrasquilla as an ad-hoc Minister of Environment, and that the Minister of the Treasury resign to the appointment". In a previous pronouncement, Rodríguez said “that they appoint the Minister of Finance, Alberto Carrasquilla, as Ad-hoc Minister to participate in the decision on whether or not the gold exploitation project in Santurban is advanced, is like puting a mouse on the surveillance director of a cheese factory”.

The Committee for the Protection of the Altoandino Forest and Páramo de Santurbán, a platform in which different social actors dedicated to this cause converged, rejected the appointment of Carrasquilla Barrera by publishing in its twitter account a message saying: “attention, they appoint Alberto Carrasquilla to give technical concept in licensing of the Minesa project. The same one that indebted the country with water bonds, Ivan Duque will have to face the strength of the people of Santander who will not let their water source be destroyed! ”. 



So far there is no clarity on the date on which the Consultative Committee of the National Environmental Licensing Authority will be held. Its director, Rodrigo Suárez, has not issued any type of pronouncement in reference to the particular appointment or event in the one that Carrasquilla will serve as Minambiente Ad Hoc.