Colombia Names General As Defense Minister
By Dialogo May 26, 2009Colombia on Saturday named General Freddy Padilla as its new minister of defense, a post which will put the current head of the armed forces squarely in charge of the fight against drug and rebel groups. Padilla will retain his current post while taking over the defense portfolio from Juan Manuel Santos, who recently resigned to prepare a possible run for president in 2010. Colombia's security forces receive hundreds of millions of dollars from the United States each year to combat cocaine cartels and rebels engaged in a decades-long fight against the government. Padilla will replace Santos, who was one of the masterminds behind the current administration's crackdown on left-wing FARC guerrilla group, which has seen its leadership decimated during Santos' near three-year tenure.