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Colombian VP suffers heart attack, needs surgery
BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's new vice president, Angelino Garzon, will undergo emergency surgery on Monday following a heart attack in the early morning just two days after he assumed his post, health officials said.
Garzon, 64, a former union leader, took office on Saturday as vice president to President Juan Manuel Santos, who has promised to maintain a tough security approach and create millions of jobs.
"The vice president is at this moment conscious and stable in the preparation room waiting for surgery," said Dr. Carlos Alberto Cardona, director at the Bogota clinic where Garzon was taken after suffering chest pains.
Under Colombia's constitution, the vice president replaces the president in times of temporary absence.
Santos comes to office after President Alvaro Uribe stepped down following eight years dominated by his hardline with leftist rebels and his pro-business approach.
Garzon was a long-time union representative and governor of Valle department under Uribe before being named as a representative for Colombia to a U.N. agency.
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 U.S. free trade deal.
(Reporting by Patrick Markey in Bogota; Editing by Eric Beech)
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