Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has reshuffled his cabinet amid social unrest and ongoing anti - government protests in the country.
On Thursday, Santos replaced five ministers, including the interior, justice and agriculture ministers, out of 16 cabinet members. The 62-year-old president said this new cabinet was determined to achieve peace with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels. Talks between the FARC rebels and the Colombian government kicked off in Cuba in November 2012. The talks recess and resume every few weeks as clashes between the two sides continue. FARC is Latin America’s oldest insurgent group and has been fighting the government since 1964. Bogota estimates that 600,000 people have been killed, and some three million others have been internally displaced by the fighting. Colombia has also witnessed widespread protests that began on August 19, when farmers put up roadblocks on highways across the country to show their resentment against Colombia’s free trade agreements with the United States and Europe. The farmers complain that due to free trade accords, it is impossible for them to compete with imports, which they say are now less expensive. A recent poll has shown that that public approval rating of the Colombian president has fallen to its lowest level since he took office in 2010, because of the farmers’ strike and slight progress in peace talks with the FARC rebels.