Petro names social-democrat Ocampo as future Economy minister

Petro Ocampo Economy minister
José Antonio Ocampo is one of the first cabinet nominations by President-elect Gustavo Petro of Colombia. Photo: Mario Ruiz/EFE via Folhapress

The administration of Colombian President-elect Gustavo Petro is taking shape, as key ministerial announcements have begun. On Wednesday, he named José Antonio Ocampo as his future Economy minister.

Mr. Ocampo holds a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University and currently teaches at Columbia. The future minister also has vast experience in public administration, having served under the country’s Liberal Party administrations of the 1990s.

While his résumé has led the international press to tout Mr. Ocampo as “market-friendly,” he can still clearly be seen as a center-left figure. 

Having served as Economy minister under the social-democratic administration of Ernesto Samper between 1996 and 1997, he has co-authored books with Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, a critic of the neoliberal turn in the field of economics since the Washington Consensus.

Mr. Ocampo has experience working at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), a broadly liberal-progressive multilateral organization under the UN banner, as well as other international institutions. At home, he has served Colombia’s Central Bank as well as in ministries of Agriculture and Planning.

After a campaign filled with speculation about Petro’s potential radical-left connections, Mr. Ocampo’s announcement was positively received across the spectrum, from business and farming organizations, to centrists such as Sergio Fajardo. 

Among Mr. Ocampo’s immediate priorities will be the initiation of Mr. Petro’s ambitious tax reform proposals, similar to Chile’s Mario Marcel, another credentialed economist with links to the country’s center-left, seen as a moderate option compared to the alternatives in the winning left-wing coalition.