Colombian leader grants citizenship to BYU student

Colombian Inspector General Alejandro Ordonez-Maldonado speaks about the importance of the family with a crowd of Colombians in Utah as well as Elder D. Todd Christofferson (Photo by Taylor Hintz)
Colombian Inspector General Alejandro Ordonez-Maldonado speaks about the importance of the family with a crowd of Colombians and Elder D. Todd Christofferson in Utah.
(Photo by Taylor Hintz)

The Inspector General of Colombia held a special reception with Elder D. Todd Christofferson to award Colombian citizenship to BYU student Jacob Erickson on Oct. 9.

Alejandro Ordonez-Maldonado is the Inspector General of Colombia, an independent Colombian institution. He holds what some consider to be the 2nd most powerful office in Colombia, next to the president.

“It was a real honor,” said Erickson, who received his citizenship card directly from Ordonez. “I agree with a lot of policies he has.”

Ordonez gave a speech to nearly 100 people at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building that exalted the family unit and outlined his political approach to solving the problems in Colombian government.

Colombia has improved its national security and protection of human rights in the last several years of a decades-long violent civil conflict with anti-government rebels. Colombian government officials continue to fight against the illegal drug production and trafficking that provide income to these rebel groups.

Ordonez is charged with overseeing public officials and levels of corruption in Colombian government. His conservative and Christian boldness in charging criminals and upholding human rights has provoked threats from dangerous people in Colombia.

“He always has 25 bodyguards on him wherever he goes,” Erickson said, adding that Ordonez was able to travel in Salt Lake City with fewer bodyguards and therefore felt much less encumbered.

Deyanira Ariza, a friend of Erickson’s family as well as the Ordonez family, coordinated the Colombian reception so that Ordonez could attend. Ordonez spent the previous day speaking at BYU’s International Law and Religion Symposium.

“He wants to beat the corruption in Colombia,” said Ariza, a professor of Latin American Studies and Spanish at Westminster College. “He emphasizes the power of the family, and he feels that strongly here in Utah.”

Many Colombians say they believe that Ordonez will run for president of Colombia and win. Ordonez was a potential candidate for the elections in May 2014, but now the public largely believes he will wait until the next election.

“He definitely wants to run for president,” said Andreas Escobar, a Colombian who has lived in Salt Lake City for three years. “He’s probably the number-one promoter of transparency in the government.”

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