Photo: President Juan Manuel Santos and Vice President Angelino Garzon
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Friday hailed the lucidity of Vice President Angelino Garzon, who is recovering from a stroke, and rejected calls for his No. 2 to resign.
“I found the vice president feeling well. I found him in good spirits, lucid, very well informed. The truth is I see no reason why anyone should think he ought to resign,” Santos told reporters when he left the Garzon residence.
This was the head of state’s first personal meeting with his vice president since the latter suffered a stroke in mid-June, from which he recovered in hospital and later at home, being allowed only a limited number of visits during the process.
The president said that Garzon “has recovered much quicker” than he ever imagined, adding that the vice president continues with his therapy even as he resumes the duties of his office.
“I talked about a lot of issues,” Santos said, adding that despite what ruling party Sen. Juan Carlos Velez said this week, the vice president affirmed “that he is not backing any constituent assembly.”
Velez is the author of a bill promoting the calling of a National Constituent Assembly to reform the administration of justice, a measure that Santos rejected in his inaugural speech for the current sessions of Congress last Friday.
According to Velez, an ally of former president Alvaro Uribe, Garzon called him last Monday to offer his backing for the bill, which some lawmakers have criticized to the point of asking for the vice president’s resignation.
Sen. Juan Manuel Galan of the Liberal Party considered it “unprecedented” that a vice president could be in opposition to his own administration.
Santos said at the beginning of June that the executive branch is studying the elimination of the post of vice president because it was “badly designed” in the 1991 Constitution, while that of “presidential delegate” could be “more useful and less expensive.”
Garzon, a former union leader, became vice president on the ticket with Santos after serving as Labor Minister in the 1998-2002 government of Andres Pastrana, and as ambassador to the United Nations in Geneval during Uribe’s 2002-2010 tenure.