Juan Manuel Santos Calderón
Who is he: Juan Manuel Santos Calderón is the 59th President of Colombia, having taken office August 7, 2010. Santos was initially known for following the lead of Álvaro Uribe, his presidential predecessor, by furthering his aggressive approach to pacifying Colombia's internal violence; however, in recent days his engagement with the FARC guerillas in dialogue has led to increase Colombian violence.
Santos has a mostly civilian background, though he spent time as a cadet at the Naval Academy of Cartagena during high school and graduated from there. Santos then attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, United States, receiving twin Economics and Business Administration degrees. Santos later took Master's degrees in Economics, Economic Development and Public Administration at the London School of Economics. Santos studied business and journalism at Harvard and law and diplomacy at Tuft's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Santos was appointed Minister of Foreign Trade under president César Gaviria and then in 1992 became president of the Seventh United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Around the turn of the century Santos became president of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. In 1994 Juan Manuel Santos started the Good Government Foundation for Colombia, which he stated was intended to root out corruption and improve government standards.
Santos also advocated peace talks with the Marxist FARC guerillas, which in 2012 he reinstated. During the month these peace talks were renewed FARC violence killed a significant number civilians and attacked infrasturucture, affecting delivery of electricity to a wide region.
Background: Juan Manuel Santos Calderón was born in Bogota, Colombia on August 10, 1951 and previously served as Colombia's Minister of Foreign Trade, Minister of Finance, and Minister of National Defense under President Alvaro Uribe. It could be said that Santos was born for such an office, as he is a member of one of Colombia's most prestigious families. His great-uncle was president of Colombia as well as the owner and director of the country's top newspaper, El Tiempo. Juan's father, Enrique Santos, was the editor of the newspaper for a half-century and his brother was director for ten years. During Uribe's tenure as president, Juan Santos's cousin, Francisco Santos, served with Uribe as vice president.
Juan Manuel Santos was initially a strong supporter of then-President Álvaro Uribe and under his administration, in 2006 was named Minister of Defense. Santos aggressively tackled the FARC guerrilla group during his tenure as defense minister and achieved one triumph when he rescued long-time captive, Fernando Araújo Perdomo. Santos was also responsible for the death of FARC Secretariat member Raul Reyes in an air strike against a guerrilla camp in Ecuador's border.
There were problems for Santos, as well. In late 2008, Santos began an inquiry into extra-judicial executions of guerillas and sympathizers. Eventually, this would lead to the arrest of nearly 400 soldiers and firing of 27 military officers, including generals. In March 2010, Santos affirmed the problem was resolved, a statement attested to by various Colombia-based human rights organizations.
Juan Manuel Santos resigned from the Defense Ministry in 2009 and eventually became a presidential candidate when the highly popular Alvaro Uribe decided not to run again due to a ruling by Colombia's Constitutional Court that another four years would be illegal. In June 2010, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón was officially elected and took office in August of that year.
News & Analysis
|09/22/12||THE PRAGMATIST: FARC Stance May Not Bode Well for Colombian Economy|