No Small Tasks Lie Ahead

Sep 1, 2002

Roberto Junguito, Colombia's new finance minister, has his work cut out for him. He must deal with the country's budget deficit, wage fiscal war on the guerillas and grow the economy.

Roberto Junguito, a tall, angular man with the air of an absent-minded professor, has one of the toughest jobs in Latin America. As Colombia's new finance minister, Junguito, 59, must restore the public finances to health, get the economy growing again and pay for the government's war against the guerrilla armies that control most of Colombia's interior and dominate the drugs trade.

Junguito lacks the flair and political skills of his predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos, who helped salvage the presidency of Andrés Pastrana by restoring a degree of investor confidence and pushing ahead with fiscal retrenchment. Instead, Junguito is a quintessential técnico who has spent nearly his entire career in public service. After earning economics degrees from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá and Princeton University, Junguito was agriculture and finance minister in the 1980s, and then served as ambassador to France and the European Union. He was a...

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