Álvaro Uribe Vélez (born 4 July 1952) is a Colombian politician who served as the 31st President of Colombia from 7 August 2002 to 7 August 2010.
Uribe studied law. Álvaro Uribe focused his political career and became a member of the Colombian Liberal Party. In 1993 he attended Harvard University, receiving a Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management at Harvard Extension School and Certificate in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution at Harvard Law School. Between 1998 and 1999, 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.
Uribe started his political career in his home department of Antioquia. He has held office in the Empresas Públicas de Medellín and in the Ministry of Labor and was the director of the Special Administrative Unit of Civil Aeronautics (1980–1982). He was named Mayor of Medellín in October 1982 by Belisario Betancur. However, he was discharged of his function in February 1983, five months after his appointment, by Président Betancur for his alleged collaboration with drug traffickers. He was Senator between 1986 and 1994 and finally Governor of Antioquia between 1995 and 1997 before he was elected President of Colombia in 2002. Following his 2002 election, Uribe led successful campaigns against leftist guerilla groups the FARC and the ELN, as well as leading a successful effort in the demobilizing of the rightwing paramilitary group known as the AUC, all of which are part the Colombian Armed Conflict. On 13 January 2009 the United States awarded President Uribe the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his role in fighting along the US lead War on Terror in the Colombian Armed Conflict. However, his role in the conflict was accompanied by large-scale exactions: thousands of civilians were killed by the Colombian army (see “False positives” scandal) with almost total impunity, according to the United Nations. and millions of people have been victims of forced displacement.In an official document of the Defense Intelligence Agency, which the US State Department has completely disavowed, dated 1991, Álvaro Uribe appears at number 82 of a list containing the names of the most important drug dealers in Colombia. Uribe is described there as a collaborator of the Medellín Cartel and intimate friend of Pablo Escobar; he is also accused of possessing financial interests in companies engaged in drug trafficking and would have assisted the cartel with regard to extradition laws. Recently released diplomatic cables show that a Colombian senator told the U.S. Embassy in 1993 that the founders of the Medellín Cartel financed Uribe’s senate election campaign.In August 2010 he was appointed Vice-chairman of the UN panel investigating the Gaza flotilla raid. In 2012 Uribe and a group of political allies founded the Democratic Center movement to contest the 2014 national elections. He was elected senator in the 2014 parliamentary election and took office in July 2014. Uribe was critical of his successor Juan Manuel Santos’s peace-talks with the FARC guerillas.