Carlos Holmes Trujillo is the new Minister of Defense in Colombia

The implementation of the peace agreements is one of Trujillo's challenges; and when not fulfilled, they are indicated as the reason why the violence returned.

President Iván Duque in the appointment as new Minister of National Defense to Carlos Holmes Trujillo.

President Iván Duque in the appointment as new Minister of National Defense to Carlos Holmes Trujillo. / Photo: Colombian Presidency – Andrés Piscov / Foreign Ministry

LatinAmerican Post | Alberto Castaño Camacho

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Leer en español: Carlos Holmes Trujillo nuevo Mindefensa en Colombia

The lawyer and politician Carlos Holmes Trujillo García has been designated by the president of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, as the new Minister of National Defense before the accepted resignation of the questioned Guillermo Botero Nieto who left the portfolio as a mechanism to avoid a motion of censure that the congress of the Republic would surely approve against it.

This politician, belonging to the Democratic Center, a government party whose top head is Senator and former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez, was a presidential candidate who competed with Duque in a selection process within the party to choose the best name to be presented to the presidency of the Republic. It was also the vice-presidential formula in 2013 during the campaign in which Óscar Iván Zuluaga, also from the Democratic Center, and who lost in the presidential elections with the candidate of that time, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón.

Trujillo, born in the municipality of Cartago, north of Valle del Cauca in the western region of Colombia, served as Minister of Foreign Affairs since the beginning of Duque's government, but his diplomatic career began from many years ago; he started from the government Alfonso López Michelsen served as a business manager in Tokyo Japan.

His career in the public sector is long and recognized. He has been mayor of Cali, the capital of his native department, and was also elected by voters to be a constituent in 1991 by the liberal party, minister of education of the government of César Gaviria during the final two years of his government.

Then he held the position of High Councilor for Peace in the government of Ernesto Samper Pizano between 1994 and 1995 and later in the same government would be the Minister of the Interior before the resignation of Horacio Serpa Uribe, faithful squire of President Samper.

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But not only in the liberal governments of Gaviria and Samper, but this chameleonic politician also had a special place, later in the government of the conservative Andrés Pastrana Arango, he was appointed as ambassador in Austria and then in Russia. And also in the government of Álvaro Uribe, he was present as ambassador to Vienna, Stockholm and non-resident ambassador to the Governments of Norway, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark.

He even managed to serve under the government of Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, who ruled Colombia between 2010 and 2018 with the strong opposition of the Democratic Center as head of Colombia's mission to the European Union from 2006 to 2011.

As you will see, the new Minister of National Defense in Colombia is a man of the political world, international court, and has the plasticity to accommodate his ideology to the circumstances that are presented along the way.

He arrives at very convulsed moments of public order in the country and with multiple tasks that seek to improve the security situation of citizens in Colombia.

The new Ministry of Defense faces the loss of widespread credibility in the Military Forces as a result of unfortunate handling of certain situations that resulted in the departure of its predecessor Guillermo Botero Nieto, such as the murder of Dimar Torres, a demobilized FARC who was sheltered to the peace process in Colombia, allegedly premeditated by the military in charge of an army colonel. Also the recent bombardment of a high-value target that killed about a dozen children who had been forcedly recruited by the FARC dissidents in Caquetá, the growing murders of social leaders in the country and many other related factors with the increase in violence. The minimization and trivialization of the increase in organized crime and violence suffered by residents in the department of Vichada, bordering Venezuela.

Also read: What you should know about the resignation of the Colombian Minister of Defense

The above without forgetting the controversial guideline of the Army, released by The New York Times in which the return of what many have called “the false positives” was evidenced, instructing the different military units to increase casualties in combat reducing the certainty about operations and increasing the threshold of errors against the civilian population.

And Trujillo García receives a ministry that is the backbone of national security in a year in which Duque's government has to face with full rigor the figure that has most marked its management. In the decade between 2009 and 2018, homicides in Colombia decreased steadily and steadily. Only until the first year of the current government, 2018, in Colombia this figure increased by 6.7% with respect to the 2017 year in which a reduction of 64.2% had been achieved with respect to 2009,  Uribe Vélez last year in his era in the presidency of the Republic, a situation that alerts public opinion.

Analysts have agreed that the name of Carlos Holmes Trujillo is a carat name in the knowledge of the state for the years he has been at his service, however, some voices in the opposition have questioned whether the change of official can solve the complications that present this, which is one of the most important portfolios of the national government in Colombia.

“The problem is not the official in charge of the Military Forces and National Defense, the problem is the doctrine that comes to support and manage, if it is able to dismantle the macabre incentives that give rise to false positives and the cover-up of errors committed operationally, I wish you good luck and much success in your management, ”said Angélica Lozano, senator for the Green Alliance Party, opposed to the national government.

The implementation of the peace agreements with the extinct FARC guerrillas is one of the challenges that the new Mindefense has, a process that has not been fulfilled, many point out as the reason for the resurgence of violence in Colombia and the proliferation of criminal gangs organized.

However, in the short term, the biggest challenge facing this Duke government official is the national strike called by the opposition to march in rejection of current government policies on different fronts, at times as convulsed as those the neighborhood lives in Latin America, especially in Chile and Bolivia, the tension rises with each day that the opposition calls for the marches and the pro-government asks the citizens not to participate in the most anticipated national strike of recent times in Colombia.

Whatever the government of Iván Duque, what is a point of coincidence between opponents and supporters of the government, is that a man who handles about 500,000 men and women in arms with the responsibility of the defense of the nation, deserves all the luck and success in its management for the good of Colombia, its citizens, and institutions.

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