The appointment of Clara Lopez to be the new labor minister in the center-right Colombian government on Tuesday decapitated the leftist PDA party, which required her to step down as leader.
Lopez presented her resignation to the party’s National Executive Committee, or CEN, a few hours after on Monday President Juan Manuel Santos announced his selection of her to join his reformed Cabinet to lead the country toward peace and in the post-conflict period that will arrive if the conflict with the FARC guerrillas can be concluded at the ongoing peace talks, as is widely anticipated.
After her nomination became known, criticism erupted within her party, which – as the CEN noted on Monday in a statement – bases its policy on supporting the peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, as well as the opening of a similar process with the National Liberation Army rebels, or ELN, and “staying in opposition to the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the neoliberal policies he represents.”
Given this situation, Lopez presented her resignation as PDA president, which was unanimously accepted by the CEN.
The CEN said in a document released after the meeting that Lopez’s decision to accept the labor portfolio “does not compromise the opposition of this leftist party to the government.”
Lopez, who said she was “enthusiastic” about her new post, confirmed Tuesday that accepting the Cabinet portfolio is a question of “political flexibility,” especially since as part of the Cabinet she will be able to contribute to managing the future post-conflict phase, an issue that she said is of “profound importance.”
“The political innovation of President Juan Manuel Santos seems to me to be courageous, to accept into his Cabinet a key leader of a party that, after all, will remain – and he knew this – in opposition to his government,” Lopez said in remarks to Caracol Radio.
Now, the PDA is being headed by the 12-member CEN until a new party president can be chosen, although no date for that has yet been established.