Last Thursday, September 29, a decree was announced by which the first lady, Veronica Alcocer, She was appointed as an ambassador for a special mission.
This implies that the wife of President Gustavo Petro is going to represent the country in several state visits in the next 15 days. The most recent of the events is the funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shintzo Abe.
The decree, which is signed by Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva on September 14, stipulates that between September 17 and 30 Alcocer is going to be an ambassador to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, the UN assembly and the funeral of Shintzo Abe.
According to the document, which is from 1893, more than 60 million per diems were given to him. The decree was disseminated by the media, but it is not public on the Presidency’s website.
The appointment of Alcocer as the country’s representative in these three events has caused controversy in various sectors, as they point out that the figure of first lady is protocol and cannot represent the State.
Now, this would not be the first time that a first lady has been designated for this type of mission. former first lady María Juliana Ruíz, wife of Iván Duque, was commissioned 13 times and former first lady María Clemencia de Santos, wife of Juan Manuel Santos, 10 times, according to presidential records.
Even Lina Moreno, wife of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, was commissioned in five international missions.
Is it legal for the first lady to be a commissioner?
The first lady is a position that, for the most part, It is protocol. For María Claudia Rojas, former president of the Council of State: “The National Constitution does not mention it and it is very clear that the first lady is an individual, who therefore does not have any functions expressly assigned as the position of first lady and does not have remuneration. (…) Her functions are eminently formal to support her husband, the President of the Republic, to have charitable functions, social assistance, support, but she is not a public servant,” she said in an interview for Noticias Caracol.
In contrast, Mauricio Jaramillo, a professor at the Universidad del Rosario and an expert in international relations, told EL TIEMPO that such trips they do not mean that Alcocer is supplanting the chancellor or the vice president.
For the expert, the first lady may only carry out activities that normally correspond to her as the spouse of the President of the Republic, such as collaborating in the performance of protocol tasks, or taking initiative in matters of social assistance, or in public charity work.
Now, Jaramillo clarified that it is “worrying” that the president issues a decree where she assumes foreign policy powers.