Just three weeks after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his prostate gland, Vice President Angelino Garzón announced yesterday that he may step down from office in order to undergo radiation therapy for a similar condition. He will receive 39 sessions over eight weeks.
This is the first time that the vice president has insinuated that he would leave his post; his term has been plagued with a myriad of health issues including a heart attack shortly after taking office and a stroke which left him comatose in June. While Garzón said that the cancer is not life threatening, he is “fully aware that [he] must leave up to the constitution and the law everything related to the present and future of the vice presidency of Colombia.” It is not clear whether Garzón will renounce his post or whether he will let Congress—which earlier this month demanded he submit to a medical examination to determine his potential fitness to replace President Santos—make the final decision.
According to Colombia’s 1991 Constitution, the vice president is elected by popular vote on the same ticket as the president. If Garzón were to step down, his replacement would be elected by Congress to fulfill the remainder of the term. Despite the restoration in the Constitution, however, some legislators are still discussing eliminating the position if he is not able to fulfill his duties due to his health.