On celebrating the first 100 days of his presidency, Juan Manuel Santos insisted that his government of ´National Unity´ was producing results. The governing coalition, which includes the Conservatives, Liberals, El Partido de la U and Cambio Radical, has been questioned by a clash over anti-corruption measures. On Wednesday Colombia´s Congress threatened to strike over alleged criticism by the interior and justice minister German Vargas Lleras that conservative members of the Senate First Commission were blocking the president´s anti-corruption legislation. Conservative Party Senator Eduardo Enriquez Maya, who heads the First Commission, accused the government of wanting to push the legislation through Congress without further consultation.
The fallout from one of the major scandals of Alvaro Uribe´s presidency continued this week as Maria del Pilar Hurtado, the ex-director of Colombia´s intelligence department (DAS) was granted political asylum in Panama. The former DAS director, alongside twenty other DAS employees, was accused of the illegal wiretapping of Supreme Court judges, journalists, politicians and human rights workers. Many politicians have condemned Panama´s decision to grant Hurtado asylum as setting a dangerous precedent amidst speculation that other civil servants involved in the scandal will also seek asylum. A parliamentary investigation continues as to whether former President Uribe himself knew of, or authorized, the illegal wiretapping.
President Juan Manuel Santos was able to announce his government´s second major success against the FARC on Saturday after an air force bombing killed “Fabian Ramirez”, the military chief of FARC´s southern bloc. Ramirez, part of the FARC´s ruling body and on Colombia´s 20 most wanted terrorist list, was killed along with thirteen other supposed FARC members near the city of San Vicente de Caguan in the department of Caquetá. The US had offered $2.5 million for his capture due to his links to drug trafficking. In September the guerrilla´s military chief “Mono Jojoy” was killed in a similar raid.
The meeting this week between Colombia´s Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera and Venezuela´s Interior and Justice Minister Tarek El Aissami highlighted the improved relations between the neighbouring countries. On Tuesday Colombia announced it would extradite suspected drug trafficker Walid Makled to Venezuela rather than the US, whilst on Wednesday three suspected Colombian guerrillas were returned to Colombia. This marks what President Chavez referred to as the “relaunching” of relations, which had severely cooled during Uribe´s presidency.
Colombia´s most important competition ended on Monday as Catalina Robayo, representative of the Valle del Cauca department, was crowned Miss Colombia 2010. The 21 year old law student thanked “God and the Virgin” when she was chosen as Colombia’s most beautiful woman.