|Birth Day:||July 4, 1952|
|Birth Place:||Medellin, Colombia|
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He began his political career as a Senator, supporting pension and social security reform, and then took over as Governor of Antioquia, putting some of his advocated policies into action.
Álvaro Uribe was born in Medellín, the oldest of five children. His father, Alberto Uribe, was a landowner. At the age of 10 his family left their Salgar ranch and moved to Medellín. He graduated in 1970 from the Instituto Jorge Robledo after being expelled from the Medellín Benedictine School for arguing with the priests.
In 1976 Uribe was Chief of Assets for the Public Enterprises of Medellín (Empresas Públicas de Medellín). He served as Secretary General of the Ministry of Labor under Alfonso López Michelsen from 1977 to 1978. During this time he married Lina Moreno, a philosopher from Medellín. President Julio César Turbay named him Director of Civil Aviation from 1980 to 1982. He left this position to become Mayor of Medellín in 1982.
Uribe studied Law at the University of Antioquia and he graduated in 1977. His father was killed by a guerrilla group during a 1983 kidnapping attempt.' After his father's death, Uribe focused on his political career and became a member of the center-left Colombian Liberal Party. He served on the Medellín city council between 1984 and 1986.
Uribe married to Lina María Moreno Mejía in 1979. They have two sons, Tomás and Jerónimo.
In 1993 he attended Harvard University, receiving a Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management from Harvard Extension School and a Certificate in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from Harvard Law School. Between 1998 and 1999, after having completed his term in office as the governor of Antioquia, he studied at St Antony's College, Oxford, England, on a Chevening-Simón Bolívar scholarship and was appointed Senior Associate Member at St Antony's College.
Within his jurisdiction, Uribe openly supported a national program of licensed private security services that became known as CONVIVIR, which had been created by Decree 356 issued by the Colombian Defense Ministry in February 1994. The groups quickly became controversial – while some reportedly improved security in communities and intelligence coordination with the military, their members were accused of abusing civilians and operated without serious oversight. In 1998, Human Rights Watch stated: "we have received credible information that indicated that the CONVIVIR groups of the Magdalena Medio and of the southern Cesar regions were directed by known paramilitaries and had threatened to assassinate Colombians that were considered as guerrilla sympathizers or which rejected joining the cooperative groups".
In early 2002, Uribe's administration decreed a one-time tax of 1.2% of the liquid assets of the higher income Colombians and corporations, with the goal of raising US$800 million. More than $650 million was collected before the final payment quota was made, surpassing original expectations. Another goal was to increase defense expenditures from a current level of about 3.6% of GDP to 6% of GDP by 2006.
Contacts begun in 2002 with the paramilitary AUC forces and their leader Carlos Castaño, which had publicly expressed their will to declare a cease-fire, continued in 2003 amid a degree of national and international controversy.
Since his 2002 election Uribe's approval ratings had remained high, usually staying between 60 and 70 percent after eight years in office, but this status has radically changed.
According to official government statistical information from August 2004, in two years, homicides, kidnappings, and terrorist attacks in Colombia decreased by as much as 50% – their lowest levels in almost 20 years. In 2003, there were 7,000 fewer homicides than in 2002 – a decrease of 27%. By April 2004, the government had established a permanent police or military presence in every Colombian municipality for the first time in decades.
An anti-terror statute criticized by many human rights groups was approved by Congress on 11 December 2003 but was struck down in August 2004 by the Colombian Constitutional Court during its review. The statute granted the military judicial police rights and allowed limited arrests and communication intercepts without warrants. It was struck down due to an error in the approval procedure, an objection the court has also presented towards other bills.
He is also recognized as a supporter of the US war on terror, and the invasion of Iraq. In January 2003, Uribe ended a radio interview by asking "why isn't there any thought of [making] an equivalent deployment [as in the invasion of Iraq] to put an end to this problem [the Colombian conflict], which has such potentially grave consequences?".
A national referendum was promoted during Uribe's campaign and later modified by Congress and judicial review. The ability to revoke Congress was removed, as was the option to vote "Yes" or "No" as a whole. The modified proposal was defeated at the polls on 25 October 2003, and several left-wing candidates opposed to the referendum were victorious at regional elections the following day. At least 25% of the electorate needed to vote on each of the 15 proposals in order it to be accepted, but overall participation was only 24.8% and only the first proposal ("political death for the corrupt") achieved this. All 15 proposals were approved by a substantial majority of those who voted.
In September 2003, Uribe issued a speech that contained allegations against what he called "agents of terrorism" inside a minority of human rights organizations, while at the same time declaring that he respected criticism from most other established organizations and sources. Similar statements were later repeated in other instances. These statements were sharply criticized inside and outside Colombia because they could endanger the work of human rights and opposition figures.
After some of the AUC's main leaders had declared a cease-fire and agreed to concentrate in Santa Fe de Ralito, several paramilitary demobilizations began in earnest, thousands of their "rank and file" fighters were disarmed and incorporated into government rehabilitation programs late in 2004. The main AUC leaders, who would be held responsible for atrocities, remained in the concentration zone and continued talks with the government's High Commissioner for Peace, Luis Carlos Restrepo. A number of the paramilitary members who initially demobilized in Medellín apparently did not actually belong to the AUC and this caused public concern. The AUC commanders claimed, as the year ended, that they had difficulties controlling all of their personnel from their isolated position, that they had already demobilized some 20% of their forces, and that they would await for the drafting of the necessary legal framework before making any more significant moves.
The Uribe administration has maintained generally positive diplomatic relations with Spain and most Latin American nations. It signed several accords, including one in 2004 for the joint construction of a pipeline with Venezuela, a security and anti-drug trafficking cooperation deal with Paraguay in 2005, a commercial and technological cooperation agreement with Bolivia in 2004, a defense agreement with Spain (which was modified in 2004 but still remained valid), and economic and cultural agreements with the People's Republic of China in April 2005.
There have been some diplomatic incidents and crises with Venezuela during his term, in particular around the 2005 Rodrigo Granda affair, Colombia's frustrated 2004 acquisition of 46 AMX-30 tanks from Spain, and an Alleged planned Venezuelan coup in 2004 by Colombian paramilitaries. These internationally worrying circumstances have been ultimately resolved through the use of official diplomatic channels and bilateral presidential summits (in the first two cases).
In 2004, Uribe successfully sought a Congressional amendment to the Colombian Constitution of 1991 which allowed him to run for a second term as president. For years, Colombian presidents had been limited to a single four-year term and had been barred from any sort of reelection, even if nonconsecutive. Uribe originally had expressed his disagreement with consecutive reelection during his campaign, but later changed his mind, first at a private level and later in public appearances.
The amendment permitting a single reelection was approved by Congress in December 2004, and by the Constitutional Court in October 2005.
In 2004, Uribe's political supporters amended the constitution to allow him to run for a second term, previously proscribed by the Colombian constitution, and his own decision to run for a second term was announced in late 2005. With this amendment, Uribe was re-elected on 28 May 2006 for a second presidential term (2006–2010), and became the first president to be consecutively re-elected in Colombia in over a century. He received about 62% of the vote, winning over 7.3 million votes. This was the largest victory for a presidential candidate in Colombian history.
In January 2005, Human Rights Watch stated: "Paramilitary groups maintain close ties with a number of Colombian military units. The Uribe administration has yet to take effective action to break these ties by investigating and prosecuting high-ranking members of the armed forces credibly alleged to have collaborated with paramilitary groups. Credible reports indicate that some of the territories from which the military has ejected the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolutionarias de Colombia, FARC) are now under the control of paramilitary groups, which continue to carry out indiscriminate attacks on the civilian population".
A February 2005 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the year 2004 stated: "Achievements and advances were observed in the field of human rights and international humanitarian law; however, there were also difficulties and contradictions. ... Progress was recorded in terms of prevention and protection, including strengthening of the mechanism of community defenders and the early warning system, as well as regarding the Ministry of the Interior's programs for the protection of vulnerable groups. Weaknesses persisted in the Government's responses to warnings, as well as in decreasing risk factors for vulnerable groups. The Government adopted positive measures regarding the destruction of stored anti-personnel mines. The armed forces occasionally carried out operations in which they failed to observe humanitarian principles".
In 2005, Uribe and Colombia's congressmen prepared for the elections held in May and March 2006 respectively. FARC, which had been perceived as relatively passive, began to show signs of what analysts considered renewed vigor in February. It made a series of attacks against small military units, which left at least three dozen casualties. Uribe said in a speech that FARC remained strong and had never retreated, and he credited Colombia's soldiers for previous successes against FARC activities.
Uribe's government, along with Peru and Ecuador, negotiated and (with Peru) signed a free trade agreement with the US. On 30 December 2005, Uribe signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with Mercosur and gives Colombian products preferential access to the market of 230 million people. Trade negotiations have also been underway with Mexico, Chile, the Andean community and the USA over its current proposal.
Under Uribe, social spending has also seen a huge increase. The government's High Advisor for Social Policy, Juan Francisco Lozano Ramírez, stated in February 2005 that the administration had by 2004 achieved an increase of 5 million affiliates to the subsidized health system (3.5 million added in 2004, for a total of 15.4 million affiliates), an increase of 2 million Colombians that receive meals and care through the Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF) (for a total of 6.6 million), an increase of 1.7 million education slots in the National Service of Learning (SENA) (for a total of 2.7 million), an increase of 157% in the amount of microcredit available to small entrepreneurs, a reduction of unemployment from 15.6% in December 2002 to 12.1% by December 2004, the addition of almost 200,000 new houses to existing housing projects for the poor, a total of 750,000 new school slots in primary and high school, some 260,000 new university slots, the return of 70,000 displaced persons to their homes (under an 800% increase in the budget assigned to this matter), and support for a program that seeks to increase economic subsidies from 170,000 to 570,000 of the elderly by the end of the term. The High Advisor added that a "colossal effort" is still required and work must continue, and that this progress would constitute a sign of the Uribe administration's positive effects on social indicators.
On 4 February 2005 Uribe was made Knight of the Collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic by King Juan Carlos I of Spain.
In November 2006, a political crisis emerged as several of Uribe's congressional supporters were questioned or charged by the Colombian Supreme Court and the office of the Attorney General for having alleged links to paramilitary groups. Álvaro Araújo, brother of Uribe's Foreign Minister María Consuelo Araújo, was among those summoned for questioning. In November, the former ambassador to Chile, Salvador Arana, was charged with the murder of a mayor in a small town in the Department of Sucre. The Supreme Court sentenced Arana to 40 years in prison in December 2009.
In April 2007, Senator Gustavo Petro made several accusations against Uribe during a televised congressional debate about paramilitarism in Antioquia. Petro said that some of the Uribe family's farms in the north of the country had been previously used as staging grounds for paramilitary forces. He also showed a picture of Santiago Uribe, the President's brother, together with Fabio Ochoa, a drug dealer, in 1985. Petro also argued that Governor Uribe's office allowed paramilitary personnel to participate in some of the legal cooperative neighborhood watch groups known as CONVIVIR. Another accusation concerned the possible participation of a helicopter belonging to the former Antioquia Governor's administration during a paramilitary massacre.
The DAS, an "intelligence service that answers to the president" as described by the Washington Post, has been the subject of earlier controversies during the Uribe administration. According to Revista Semana, revelations about the infiltration of paramilitaries affected the entity under former DAS chief Jorge Noguera in 2007 and further accusations have continued to surface. The magazine reported that information gathered by the DAS has been allegedly forwarded to paramilitaries, narcotraffickers and guerrillas.
On 8 November 2007 Chávez met with alias "Iván Márquez" one of the highest members of the FARC and some other members of its secretariat at the Palacio de Miraflores in a widely publicized event. After the event Chavez promised to deliver evidence that some of the hostages remained alive. When Chávez met with Sarkozy on 19 November, Chávez was still waiting for the evidence. Lacking the "proof of life" that was promised to the families of the hostages, and seeing prominent FARC members using the media attention to promote their own ideology, Uribe became disgruntled with the mediation process.
In May 2007 the American Jewish Committee (AJC) gave Uribe its "Light Unto The Nations" award. AJC President E. Robert Goodkind, who presented the award at AJC's Annual Dinner held at the National Building Museum in Washington, stated: "President Uribe is a staunch ally of the United States, a good friend of Israel and the Jewish people, and is a firm believer in human dignity and human development in Colombia and the Americas".
In 2008, the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances of the United Nation's Human Rights Council criticised the continuation of forced disappearances in Colombia.
On 22 April 2008, former senator Mario Uribe Escobar, one of the Colombian President's cousins and a close political ally, was arrested after being denied asylum at the Costa Rican embassy in Bogotá, as part of a judicial inquiry into the links between politicians and paramilitary groups. Mario Uribe has been accused of meeting with paramilitary commander Salvatore Mancuso in order to plan land seizures. On 22 February 2011, Uribe Escobar was convicted and sentenced to 90 months in jail after the Colombian Supreme Court found him guilty of the charge of conspiring with paramilitary groups.
On 23 April 2008, Uribe revealed that a former paramilitary fighter had accused him of helping to plan the 1997 massacre of El Aro, a charge which he said was under official investigation. Uribe described the accuser as a "disgruntled convict with an axe to grind", denied the charges and said there was proof of his innocence. The Colombian newsweekly Revista Semana reported that the paramilitary in question, Francisco Enrique Villalba Hernández, had not mentioned Uribe during previous declarations made more than five years ago, when he was sentenced for his own role in the massacre. The magazine also listed a number of possible inconsistencies in his most recent testimony, including the alleged presence of General Manosalva, who had died months before the date of the meeting where the massacre was planned.
On 2 July 2008 a covert rescue operation codenamed Operation Jaque by the Colombian Special Forces disguised as FARC guerrillas resulted in the rescue of Senator and former Presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, the Americans Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes, and Keith Stansell and eleven soldiers and police officers. It was done without bloodshed and led to the capture of two guerrilla leaders. The operation heightened Uribe's already soaring popularity. Uribe stated that the rescue operation "was guided in every way by the light of the Holy Spirit, the protection of our Lord and the Virgin Mary". The hostages agreed, indicating that they had spent much time in captivity praying the rosary, and Ms. Betancourt, formerly a lapsed Catholic who prayed daily on a wooden rosary which she made while a hostage, attributed the rescue as follows: "I am convinced this is a miracle of the Virgin Mary. To me it is clear she has had a hand in all of this".
In April 2008, Yidis Medina, a former congresswoman from the pro-government Colombian Conservative Party, claimed that members of Uribe's administration had offered her to appoint local officials in her home province, in exchange for voting in favor of the 2004 reelection bill. According to Medina, the government had not fulfilled that promise, prompting her declaration. The Attorney General of Colombia ordered her arrest, after which she turned herself over to authorities and testified to the Supreme Court as part of the investigation. The opposition Alternative Democratic Pole party asked for Uribe to be investigated for bribery. After the declarations made by Medina, the Supreme Court of Colombia sent copies of the process to other judicial authorities, who have the jurisdiction to investigate several former and current cabinet members and other high officials. The Accusations Commission of the Colombian Congress will study the matter and decide if there are enough merits to officially investigate Uribe.
During early 2008, Uribe's approval rating hit 81%, one of the highest popularity levels of his entire presidency. In June 2008, after Operation Jaque, Uribe's approval rate rose to an unprecedented 91%. In May 2009 his popularity had dropped to 68%.
In May 2009 Colombian prosecutors officially began an investigation on a series of illegal wiretapping and spying activities carried out against opposition politicians, judges, journalists and others by the Department of Administrative Security (DAS). The probe has involved several of Uribe's top aides and former high-ranking personnel within the department.
After the 2009 Honduran election Uribe joined a list of leaders that are supporting the next government following the coup d'état. "Colombia recognizes the next government", Uribe told reporters during an Ibero-American summit in Portugal on 30 November 2009. "A democratic process has taken place in Honduras with high participation, without fraud".
In 2009, bilateral negotiations between the United States and Colombia which would give U.S. forces increased access to several Colombian military bases for the stated purpose of fighting terrorism and the drug trade generated controversy throughout the region. Venezuela's Hugo Chávez criticized the proposed deal as the creation of a purported "imperialist beachhead" while Colombian diplomats defended the agreement. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that "there was no intention to expand the number of permanent [U.S.] personnel [in Colombia] beyond the maximum permitted by Congress". Other Latin American nations, including Brazil, also expressed their own concerns about the matter.
In May 2009, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos resigned so he could run for president in case Uribe either did not or could not run again. Santos said before resigning that he did not want to run against Uribe.
On 13 January 2009 US President George W. Bush awarded Uribe, along with former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair and former Prime Minister of Australia John Howard, the highest civilian award; the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Dana Perino, the White House Press Secretary explained that he received this award "for (his) work to improve the lives of (his) citizens and for (his) efforts to promote democracy, human rights and peace abroad". She said (speaking of the three leaders who received the reward on this day): "All three leaders have been staunch allies of the United States, particularly in combating terrorism".
On 23 November 2009 Nicolas De Santis, President of Gold Mercury International, presented Uribe with the Gold Mercury International Award for Peace and Security in a ceremony at the Nariño Presidential Palace in Bogota. The Award recognised Uribe's efforts to transform Colombia's internal security mechanisms, improve human rights, social cohesion and general development of the country.
To improve its results in the fight against guerrilla warfare, the Colombian army carried out mass executions of civilians transformed into false positives. If exactions of this kind already existed, the phenomenon became widespread from 2002, encouraged by the bonuses paid to the soldiers and by quasi-absolute impunity. In 2010 a mass grave containing 2,000 corpses was discovered near a military base in the department of Meta. This is the largest mass grave discovered to date in South America.
Congress backed a proposed referendum on the matter, but the Constitutional Court rejected it after reviewing the resulting law. On 26 February 2010 lead justice Mauricio Gonzalez publicly announced the Court's decision. Gonzalez said that the Court had found numerous irregularities in the way signatures were obtained to allow the referendum to pass. He also said that the law calling for a referendum contained "substantial violations to the democratic principle" that made it unconstitutional. Uribe stated that he would respect the decision but called for voters to continue supporting his administration's policies in the upcoming elections.
In late 2010, a few months after leaving office, Uribe was named visiting scholar at Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service, where he taught students in different disciplines as a guest lecturer in seminars and classes. In 2011, Uribe was granted an honorary award by the Latin American Student Association of Georgetown, for his leadership and commitment with the Latin American community of the university.
In November 2010, while at the Georgetown campus, Uribe was served a criminal subpoena in the case Claudia Balcero Giraldo v. Drummond, regarding hundreds of civilians murdered by paramilitary forces loyal to Uribe.
In October 2012, News Corporation welcomed Uribe to the Board of Directors upon the retirement of Andrew Knight, John Thornton, and Arthur Siskind.
In 2012, Uribe joined the Leadership Council of Concordia, a nonprofit organization in New York City that creates public-private partnerships.
The Constitutional Court not only threw out the referendum, but declared Colombian presidents could only serve two terms, even if they were nonconsecutive. This effectively foreclosed a potential Uribe run for president in 2014. The Constitution has since been amended to limit the president to a single four-year term, restoring the status quo that prevailed before 2005.
In 2019, 69% of the population surveyed said they had an unfavourable image of Uribe, while 26% said they had a favourable image.
In August 2020, Uribe was placed under house arrest at his hacienda "El Uberrimo" by the Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia, while it decides whether he should stand trial for bribery and witness tampering as well as crimes against humanity for his alleged involvement in El Aro and La Granja massacres, which took place while he was Governor of Antioquia, as part of ongoing judicial investigations. The day following his arrest, Uribe tested positive for COVID-19, but he announced he was cured 6 days later. On 18 August 2020, Uribe resigned his seat in the Senate of Colombia.
Currently, Alvaro Uribe is 70 years, 2 months and 22 days old. Alvaro Uribe will celebrate 71st birthday on a Tuesday 4th of July 2023.
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