State Building and Conflict Resolution in Colombia, 1986-1994

By Harvey F. Kline | Go to book overview

The César Gaviria Government, 1990-1994

That César Gaviria Trujillo was a different kind of president was apparent when he was inaugurated on August 7, 1990, as president of Colombia. For security reasons, the ceremonies were held in a plaza of the Congress before its members and invited guests rather than in a packed Plaza Bolívar, as is the custom. After all, three presidential candidates had been assassinated, including Luis Carlos Galán, for whom Gaviria had been campaign manager. So there was little wonder when the new president began his inaugural speech emotionally: "I welcome you and invite you to evoke with us, the Colombians, Luis Carlos Galán: the friend, the man of rectitude, the critical spirit who returned to politics both majesty and the capacity to transform reality. In homage to that leader, surprised by death when, smiling, he greeted his people who full of illusions acclaimed him, I wish to repeat his words when invoking the people of the Comunera Revolution: 'Colombians: Not a step backwards! Always forward!'"1 Gaviria stated that his government would have the responsibility for strengthening the economy, pacifying the country, and transforming governmental institutions. Clearly, the latter two duties would be duties connected with state building.

The president said that he would lead the process of changing the political institutions through formation of a constituent assembly. The executive branch would gradually take over the task of investigating crimes. A permanent jurisdiction would be established that would deal with such matters as plea bargaining, collective judgments, protection of the identity of judges and witnesses, payment of rewards,

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