August 9, 2010 / 12:22 PM / in 8 years

UPDATE 3-New Colombian VP undergoes heart surgery, stable

* Garzon had heart attack two days after swearing in

* Reported stable after quintuple by-pass surgery (Adds details on Garzon’s condition)

BOGOTA, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Colombia’s new vice president, Angelino Garzon, underwent emergency coronary surgery on Monday following a heart attack just two days after taking office, health officials said.

Garzon, 64, a former union leader, was sworn in on Saturday as vice president by incoming President Juan Manuel Santos, who has promised to maintain a tough security approach and pro-business policies to create millions of jobs.

Local media reports said Garzon underwent quintuple by-pass surgery.

“The vice president is recovering in our intensive care unit,” said the Bogota clinic where Garzon had surgery after suffering from chest pains.

The clinic said in a statement that Garzon’s vitals were stable and his recovery depends on what happens over the next two days. Under Colombia’s constitution, the vice president replaces the president in times of temporary absence.

Santos succeeded Alvaro Uribe, whose eight years in office saw a successful offensive against leftist guerrillas and a deterioration in ties with the populist government of President Hugo Chavez in neighboring Venezuela. [ID:nN07219451]

Garzon was a long-time union representative and governor of Valle department under Uribe before being appointed Colombia’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

His experience as a union leader and a rights campaigner could be useful credentials in dealing with U.S. lawmakers as Colombia tries to secure a free trade deal with the United States. (Reporting by Patrick Markey and Luis Jaime Acosta; editing by Anthony Boadle)

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