The Minister of Mines and Energy, Irene Vélez, has finally submitted her resignation from her position, after days of rumors. Minister Vélez made a public statement yesterday on her social media, explaining that she has resigned to President Gustavo Petro.
In the 4-page letter published, she explains the reasons for her resignation, as well as the achievements she claims to have made during her almost 12 months in charge of the ministerial portfolio.
The former minister has publicly thanked President Petro for his trust in her resignation message published on Twitter: “I want to thank President Gustavo Petro for his trust, allowing me to lead a historically ethnocentric and patriarchal sector.”
Reasons for the resignation
Vélez announced that she is stepping down to avoid being an obstacle to the government’s work, as it has been known that she will be investigated for an alleged case of nepotism. “I decide to step down from the position of minister to prevent the investigations against me from interfering with the execution of the Government’s program,” the former minister wrote on her Twitter account.
The investigations, conducted by the Office of the Controller General and the Office of the Attorney General, are related to two cases of alleged corruption. The first refers to a multimillion-dollar contract that her husband, Sjoerd van Grootheest, allegedly obtained from the Fondo Colombia en Paz (Colombia in Peace Fund), attached to the Presidency of the Republic. In the second case, under investigation is the alleged pressure that Vélez exerted on Migration authorities to facilitate her underage son’s departure from the country without having signed the relevant permits.
Petro loses 11 ministers in less than a year
With Irene Vélez’ departure, there are now 11 ministers who have left their positions in less than a year of Gustavo Petro’s government. Until now, the dismissals had been caused by disagreements of these ministers with some of the important reforms being carried out by the government. This was the case with the former Minister of Education, Alejandro Gaviria, or José Antonio Ocampo, in Finance, among others.
Vélez is the first resignation due to alleged corruption. She has already survived two motions of censure in the Legislative branch, always maintaining the support of Gustavo Petro. In fact, she was one of the ministers considered to be closest to the circle of trust of the president. She consistently showed significant ideological affinity with the most relevant proposals, as well as commitment to the government’s work.
Thanks from Gustavo Petro
On his Twitter account, the president has thanked Irene Vélez for her work at the Ministry. “Irene leaves without having lost a single peso, with significant progress in normative tasks for the energy transition and with the elaboration of the new mining code,” wrote Petro.
Vélez’s Ministry achievements
In her resignation letter, the former minister cites 35 achievements during her tenure. She mentions, for example, the expansion of the country’s electric grid in remote and peripheral areas; support for solar energy programs in La Guajira; promoting strategic alliances with other Andean countries, and inviting small Colombian miners to update legislation on titles or environmental obligations.