Presidents Of Colombia

Colombia's long, proud history of Presidents dates back to early 19th Century South American revolutionary Simon Bolivar.

Colombia's long, proud history of Presidents dates back to when the early 19th Century South American revolutionary Simon Bolivar was the President of Gran Colombia. After years of revolution and changes, the Republic of Colombia came to be in 1886. In 1991, a new Colombian Constitution declared the president as the head of both state and government and Supreme Administrative Authority. The president is the symbol of National Unity and serves to defend and protect the rights and liberties of every Colombian. He or she is the Chief Executive officer and commander in chief of the Military Forces of Colombia. He is sworn to protect the nation’s law and guide his country forward in a right and justice manner. For a presidential act to be legal and enforceable a ministry or department must sanction the act unless it is the appointment and demotion of ministers and authorities the president elected during his official term.

Simon Bolivar y Palacios

Simon Bolivar, born on July 24, 1783, was the first president of Colombia, serving from 1819 to 1830. He was a Venezuelan military and political leader who helped in the establishments of Venezuela, Panama, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Bolivia. Born into a wealthy and aristocratic Creole family, Bolivar studied in Europe where he learned the ideas of Enlightenment philosophers from where he became ambitious to replace the Spanish rulers. From 1808, he started the Independent campaigns, and by 1821, his revolution helped Venezuela attain independence. From there he participated in the formation of the first Union of Independent nations in the Latin countries (Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador), Gran Colombia with him as the president. He propelled his country past constraints and pressure from Spain, European Holy Alliance, and the then emerging power of the US. He went down as the Liberator of Latin America and the founding father of Colombia.

Mariano Ospina Perez

Mariano Ospina Perez, a Colombian politician, served as the 17th President of the Republic of Colombia from 1946 until 1950. Born in Medellin to a prominent Colombian family, Ospina started out as an engineer in the Mining School of Antioquia. During his travels, he took pleasure in learning courses on gold mining, sugarcane production, labor relations, economics, cooperatives, and railway system. Before becoming president, he served as the executive administrator of the National Federation of Coffee Growers. As president he led Colombia to a massive development where the country reached the highest level in coffee exports, raising the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He fortified the country’s infrastructure and formed Ecopetrol, Colombian Petroleum Company, and the country’s largest steel mill, Acerias Paz del Rio. He set up TELECOM, La Caja Agraria, financial institutions, developed the Social Security Administration, Department of Labor and Housing Credit Agency to help coffee workers, blue-collar workers, and small-scale farmers and peasant grow financially. However, on April 9, 1948, Jorge Eliecer Gaitan was assassinated, and from there the country went into a 10-year period of violence called La Violencia. The liberals tried to impeach Ospina but he dissolved Congress and a decade of civil-military dictatorship followed.

Alvaro Uribe Velez

Velez was the 31st president of Colombia, and was born in 1952 in Medellin, Colombia. Uribe Velez served as the Colombian President from 2002 until 2010. Uribe started out by earning a law degree from the University of Antioquia and later management and administration from Harvard University. In 1982 to 1984 he served as the mayor of Medellin and then consecutive terms as a national senator from 1986 to 1994, then governor of Antioquia from 1995 to 1997. Uribe came to power as president as an independent candidate adopting the campaign slogan “Firm hand. Big Heart.” He won by garnering 53.1% of votes cast. Soon after his inauguration, Uribe declared a state of emergency after explosions rocked Bogota, the country’s capital, just blocks away from his inauguration ceremony. At the time he invoked powers that increased Colombia’s military and police forces powers. His most notable works as president were the successes in reducing power and violence impacted by drug cartels, guerrilla, paramilitary warfare that plagued Colombia in the 1990s. He kept bureaucracy at bay, ran an austere administration and cleaned San Vicente del Caguan which was infested with guerrillas. His legacy is that of a leader with no belief in concessions and peace talks with armed war groups full of terrorists’ activities and hostilities. In 2013 the country implemented his anti-terrorism laws.

Juan Manuel Santos Calderon

Calderon is the 32nd president of Colombia, and was born on August 15, 1951 in Bogota, Colombia. He is the incumbent president of Colombia, serving his second term. Born from a politically influential family, he studied economics in the US and Colombia. After working as the El Tiempo editor which earned him many accolades, Santos entered Colombian politics as the minister of foreign aid in 1991. Two years later, he was appointed as a Presidential designee. When Uribe was barred from running for a 3rd term in office, Santos quit his position in the Uribe government to vie for the presidency. During his first term, the country’s GDP grew by more than 4% while inflation and unemployment shrank. His most notable legacy is his success in bringing the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC)) to a common ground at the bargaining table. His government initiated direct peace negotiations as from 2012 in Oslo and later in Havana. Despite vote wavering in the 2014 presidential election, Santos managed a clean sweep with 51% defeating Oscar Ivan. In September 2016, he and Lobono signed the historical peace treaty finalizing the FARC talks on the truth and reconciliation basis.

An Ongoing Tradition at the Heart of Colombian Politics

Colombia and its presidential office has survived coup de etats, forced governments, changing economies, shifting boundaries, and also constitutional changes of the republic itself. According to the Colombia Constitution of 1991, the elect president is eligible to serve a four-year term in office. As from the Legislative Act 2 of 2004, the maximum number of conventional terms is two, amounting to a period of eight years. In the absence of the incumbent president, the vice president assumes office.

The Presidents Of Colombia

Presidents Of Colombia Term(s) in Office
Simon Bolivar y Palacios 1819-1830
Joaquin de Mosquera y Arboleda 1830
Rafael Urdaneta y Faria 1830-1831
Francisco de Paula Santander y Omana 1832-1837
Jose Ignacio de Marquez Barreto 1837-1841
Pedro Alcantara Herran Martinez 1841-1845
Tomas Cipriano de Mosquera y Arboleda 1845-1849; 1861-1864; 1866-1867
Jose Hilario Lopez Valdez 1849-1853
Jose Maria Obando del Campo 1853-1854
Jose Maria Melo y Ortiz 1854
Mariano Ospina Rodriguez 1857-1861
Bartolome Calvo Diaz 1861
Manuel Murillo Toro 1864-1866; 1872-1874
Santos Acosta Castillo 1867-1868
Santos Gutierrez Prieto 1868-1870
Eustorgio Salgar Moreno 1870-1872
Santiago Perez de Manosalbas 1874-1876
Aquileo Parra Gomez 1876-1878
Julian Trujillo Largacha 1878-1880
Rafael Nunez Moledo 1880-1882; 1884-1894
Francisco Javier Zaldua y Racines 1882
Jose Eusebio Otalora Martinez 1882-1884
Miguel Antonio Caro Tobar 1894-1898
Manuel Antonio Sanclemente 1898-1900
Jose Manuel Marroquin Ricuarte 1900-1904
Rafael Reyes Prieto 1904-1909
Ramon Gonzales Valencia 1909-1910
Carlos Eugenio Restrepo 1910-1914
Jose Vicente Concha Ferreira 1914-1918
Marco Fidel Suarez 1918-1921
Jorge Holguin Mallarino 1921-1922
Pedro Nel Ospina Vazquez 1922-1926
Miguel Abadia Mendez 1926-1930
Enrique Olaya Herrera 1930-1934
Alfonso Lopez Pumarejo 1934-1938; 1942-1946
Eduardo Santos Montejo 1938-1942
Mariano Ospina Perez 1946-1950
Laureano Gomez Castro 1950-1953
Gustavo Rojas Pinilla 1953-1957
Alberto Lleras Camargo 1958-1962
Guillermo Leon Valencia Munoz 1962-1966
Carlos Lleras Restrepo 1966-1970
Misael Pastrana Borrero 1970-1974
Alfonso Lopez Michelsen 1974-1978
Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala 1978-1982
Belisario Betancur Cuartas 1982-1986
Virgilio Barco Vargas 1986-1990
Cesar Gaviria Trujillo 1990-1994
Ernesto Samper Pizano 1994-1998
Andres Pastrana Arango 1998-2002
Alvaro Uribe Velez 2002-2010
Juan Manuel Santos Calderon (Incumbent) 2010-Present

More in Politics