1709695465 Petro in front of the new sports minister I see

Petro in front of the new sports minister: “I see no benefit in creating this ministry, it seems to me like a waste of time.”

Petro in front of the new sports minister I see

Gustavo Petro has turned this Tuesday the inauguration of three high-ranking officials of his government into an exercise in reflection on power, the efficiency of administration and the temptation of corruption as the apple that officials regularly bite. Anyone else would have resolved the event with a rigorous speech and then moved on to larger matters, but the president sometimes likes to theorize and present the conclusions he has reached after his 30 years of public service. First, he questioned the event itself and wondered whether it made sense to hold an inauguration at this point in a government that is just over a year and a half old. Laura Sarabia, his right-hand woman, listened attentively; Gustavo Bolívar, who took office as director of the DPS; the new Legal Secretary of the Presidency of the Republic, Paula Robledo Silva; and the current Minister of Sports, Luz Cristina López Trejos, who endured with stoicism the fact that Petro questioned the very existence of her office.

The President recalled that she was the third woman to hold this portfolio since he came to power. “What I find in the Ministry of Sports that has been criticized is what the ministry has become. I am not an enemy of this thesis (…). I haven't really seen how good it is to have done that, I can't find it. To me it seems more like a waste of time,” he said at the lectern. Furthermore, he has stated in every letter that this ministry's primary mission, financing public works, makes it the perfect breeding ground for corruption. “The more bricks are contracted, the more corruption there is. We believe that sport is the stadium and the infrastructure. You can’t say it’s not needed, but it can’t be the priority.”

The president criticized what it meant to host the Pan American Games, which Colombia lost despite being allocated because it did not make its payments on time. He asked whether event managers have to pay for travel with accompanying people and accommodation in five-star hotels. “You don’t think about athletes. It's not about seeing how our athletes will compete or win (…). This isn't sport, it's business. The truth lies in what we are doing and the message we sent to the three ministers is now to you – pointing to the new minister – more education, less cement. That physical education is offered in all public schools.”

The priest attended a few meters away with a reserved expression. Hard to know what he was thinking. If something moved inside, he hid it elegantly. He resembled a wax statue. Others would have broken out in a cold sweat. The head of state, in what is surely the most exciting moment of his career, has no other idea than to be sincere in an act that should have been limited to protocol. Petro tends towards these dissertations; there is something like an educator in him. Some consider him a dilettante. His work team justifies his delays in making the appointment with these digressions that he takes with his interlocutors, who may be an African president or a street vendor he passes on the street. This time the Petro acted more harshly, without tact towards his own officials.

Subscribe to the EL PAÍS newsletter about Colombia here and the WhatsApp channel here and receive all the important information on current events in the country.


Current events analysis and the best stories from Colombia, delivered to your inbox every week