Efraín Cepeda was chosen as the new president of the Senate for 2017-2018 by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos yesterday. The selection marks the start of the last year in Santos’ term of office and of his congress.
During the event, Santos emphasized what he deemed to be economic and social advancements in the country over the last year, including improvements in health care. He alleged that 10 years ago, people could not afford to get sick because of the deficient health care system, but today millions of Colombians now have better living standards.
As expected, Santos also touted the biggest achievement in his presidency, the signing and implementation of the 2016 peace accords with the FARC terrorist group. He thanked members of the congress, of the armed forces, as well as the Colombian people and called upon them to support the peace process and work towards a definitive peace.
The peace accords were signed in late 2016 over objections and criticism from the public. President Santos previously promised to abide by the results of a national referendum, which was conducted in October 2016, but ignored the results when Colombia voted “no” to the agreements. Opposition to the accords remains widespread in the Andean nation.
The chief of state further summarized some of his policy proposals for the last year of his presidency, including an investment into rural roads to support the economies of farmers and small producers, a political and electoral reform to improve democracy, and a reform to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace.
Taking on a populist tone, the president criticized inequality among the working and white collar class, and promised to combat corruption and prosecute white-collar offenders.