Colombia’s mines and energy minister Irene Vélez-Torres resigned from the ministry on July 19, citing investigations against her use of power.
The minister’s resignation comes as Colombia’s energy sector struggles to boost investments, hydrocarbon reserves and production as both its oil and gas reserves are set to run out in less than eight years at current production levels, according to Colombia’s National Hydrocarbon Agency (ANH).
“Although the task has not culminated, with profound respect in the institutionality, I have decided to leave my position at the ministry so that investigations against me don’t interfere with the execution of the government program,” Vélez said in a four-page letter posted on her Twitter account.
The letter mainly highlighted key energy sector accomplishments during her short tenure as minister.
Prior to joining the ministry, Vélez worked mainly in academia—working with institutions such as the National University of Colombia and most recently as a professor at the University of Valle. Vélez, like Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro, is strongly against fracking in Colombia in favor of clean energies.
Stories from major Colombian and Argentine media outlets pointed to possible nepotism as the reasons for Vélez’s resignation.
The Colombian magazine Semana reported that the minister’s husband, a Dutch filmmaker, had allegedly been awarded a lucrative contract with the Colombian government related to a communications strategy.
For its part, Argentine media Infobae also reported that Vélez used her position and influence to obtain a visa for her son without going to the proper channels, such as notarizing official documents with a registered notary.
In her letter, Vélez thanked Petro for giving her the opportunity and said she was available to respond to Colombian authorities.
Petro’s government has yet to comment on the resignation or give clues to who might be Colombia’s next mines and energy minister.
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