President Gustavo Petro has appointed his fellow former M-19 guerrilla combatant Manuel Alberto Casanova to head the Colombian National Intelligence Directorate (DNI), which will be for the first time not be run by a military officer.
Casanova, a philosopher and former guerrilla fighter, claims in his LinkedIn profile that he has served as an education official and in a coffee-exporting company, with no accredited experience in such a field. Like Petro, he demobilized in 1990 as part of the peace agreement signed by the M-19. After that, he took over as head of security for the Alianza Democrática M-19 political party.
The DNI replaced the Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad (DAS), which had been involved in a scandal of spying on judges, opponents, and human rights defenders under then-President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010). The DNI had always been headed by retired military officers.
Petrists view Casanova's appointment as part of the change of course the new administration seeks to implement. The leftist Petro has embarked on a transformation of the Armed Forces and the Police.
Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez landed Tuesday in Bogotá on a mission to strengthen bilateral ties. He was welcomed by Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva.
Sánchez is expected to express his full support to Petro and his policies toward reaching a peace deal with the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels. He is also to attend the closing ceremony of the Colombia-Spain Business Forum, where he is due to meet informally with Spanish businessmen.
Sánchez is on a tour of Latin America that includes a stop in Ecuador and another in Honduras.