After a two-week battle with respiratory complications caused by coronavirus, Colombia’s Minister of Defense Carlos Holmes Trujillo died Tuesday morning at age 69.
Holmes Trujillo was connected to an ICU at the Military Hospital in Bogotá after being transferred there on January 13 from Barranquilla where he was being treated for viral pneumonia and COVID-19 related infection.
Carlos Holmes fell sick during an official government trip to the Colombian coast to review a military garrison.
Carlos Holmes Trujillo was considered a strong presidential candidate for the 2022 elections and among President Iván Duque’s most trusted and loyal cabinet members. The untimely death of one of the country’s most experienced politicians and who served as Mayor of Cali between 1998 and 1990 comes days after the Presidency confirmed in a statement that Carlos Holmes Trujillo was “in stable condition.”
President Duque addressed the nation Tuesday, expressing his condolences to the family of Carlos Holmes and asked the country stand united to face the pandemic. “The death of Carlos Holmes fills me with pain,” remarked President Duque, emphasizing that the diplomat had a “vocation to public service [..] in all his actions, ethics and integrity.”
Visibly shaken by the death of a close ally and first victim of the coronavirus pandemic inside the cabinet, President Duque highlighted that Carlos Holmes Trujillo was “unmatched” as a human and “fulfilled all his achievements with honor and simplicity. Thank you friend, thank you Minister,” he said.
Government representatives and opposition leaders are expressing their sympathies for the passing of both friend or political adversary.
Fernando Ruíz, Minister of Health remarked on Twitter: “How hard to say goodbye to an extraordinary person. Carlos Holmes represented the best of Colombia. Colombians, and all the health sector, owe him a lot for his support and management in these most difficult moments. A see you later dear Minister”
The former top commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrilla (FARC), Rodrigo Londoño, and known by his wartime alias “Timochenko,” sent his condolences to family and friends of Carlos Holmes Trujillo. “I am a revolutionary, a lover of life, convinced of peace with social justice and I regret every death. This pandemic should inspire us with a profound change in the social order, in which life is the center of everything,” he said.
Gustavo Petro, leader of the left-wing Colombia Humana coalition and harsh critic of the current administration stated on social media: “The controversy and the contradictor must have as a common base, respect for his life.”
Carlos Holmes was Foreign Minister during the first 18 months of President Iván Duque’s administration.
Members of the diplomatic community and Ambassadors accredited in Colombia are expressing their condolences. The U.S Embassy in Bogotá released a statement which reads: “With the death of Carlos Holmes Trujillo, Colombia has lost a great patriot, leader, and statesman. The United States has lost a great friend and ally.
Canadian Ambassador Marcel Lebleu stated on Twitter: “I regret the death of the Minister of Defense and former Chancellor Carlos Holmes Trujillo, a Colombian deeply committed to public service. My condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.”