President-elect Ivan Duque has appointed former president of the Senate Nancy Patricia Gutierrez as new minister of the interior. Gutierrez was investigated by Colombia’s Supreme Court for links to paramilitary groups in 2008.
Gutierrez was acquitted in 2014, after the top court ruled there was not enough evidence to continue the investigation against her, but social organizations, who have seen hundreds of community and social leaders killed by paramilitary groups, are voicing their discontent and concern over her appointment.
“It is important to have Colombian women take on positions of leadership. Colombia will have for the first time a woman interior minister,” Duque said in a speech Friday confirming his decision.
Her alleged links to paramilitary groups in Cundinamarca are not the only controversy surrounding her appointment. Gutierrez was also investigated for allegedly asking the Administrative Department of Security, the country’s former intelligence agency, for private information on peace activist and former senator Piedad Cordoba in 2006.
The key evidence against Gutierrez was the testimony of the agency's former subdirector of operations, Martha Leal, who claimed she personally delivered the information, which was gathered without a court order.
Despite the testimony the supreme court ruled there was not enough evidence to pursue the case.
Gutierrez has an extensive public service career, which started when she became mayor of Agua de Dios, Cundinamarca, in 1988. Before the new appointment, she had been the president of the Association of Telecommunications Companies since 2014.