Colombia Declares Social and Economic State of Emergency Due to Rains

By Dialogo
December 09, 2010

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos declared a social and economic state of emergency, a constitutional mechanism that allows him to issue orders with the force of law in order to address the crisis originated by the intense rains that have left more than two hundred dead.

“In order to confront extraordinary situations, we should also take extraordinary measures. We will take the decision to declare a disaster situation and an economic, social, and ecological emergency, as referred to in Article 215 of our Constitution,” Santos specified in an address broadcast on radio and television.

According to the president, the state of emergency will have an initial duration of thirty days, with the possibility of extending it to ninety days, during which time “all necessary measures will be taken to respond to the emergency, both in the short term and in the medium and long terms.”

“Initially, we will work on humanitarian aid, saving lives and providing shelter and food to the nearly 330,000 families that need it today,” Santos explained, without being more specific about these actions.

He added that “afterward, we will turn to the rehabilitation phase to repair schools, roads, electricity grids, and other infrastructure that can be restored, and the third phase will be the reconstruction phase, which means building everything that may be destroyed or useless.”