Colombia's defense minister steps down

AP News
Posted: Aug 31, 2011 12:14 PM
Colombia's defense minister steps down

Colombia's defense minister has resigned after a year in office amid a rise in guerrilla attacks and other violence in the cocaine-producing nation.

Rodrigo Rivera is to be replaced by Juan Carlos Pinzon, a top aide to President Juan Manuel Santos.

Pinzon was a deputy defense minister under Santos in the previous administration.

River told reporters on Wednesday that kidnapping and murder were down on his watch. But he acknowledged that massacres were up 4 percent and acts of terrorism up 3 percent.

Colombia has Latin America's longest-running civil conflict. Leftist rebel groups have been active since the 1960s and far-right criminal bands abound. Drug trafficking fuels the conflict.