H.E. Andrés Pastrana
Former President of tge Republic of Colombia
Andrés Pastrana was elected President of the Republic of Colombia on June 21, 1998 with the largest vote in the country’s history, receiving over 6 million votes. Highlights of his tenure as president included developing and launching a comprehensive program, entitled Plan Colombia, to combat narco-trafficking, increase the presence of the State in regions controlled by terrorist and drug trafficking organizations, advance peace talks with the country’s two largest guerrilla organizations and provide sound policy stewardship during a deep economic recession which began shortly before he assumed the presidency. He improved bilateral relations with the United States, securing bipartisan support for $4 billion in U.S. military and development assistance to address Colombia’s security problems.
President Pastrana’s four-year term expired in August 2002. Since leaving office, he lived for three years in Spain, attending a number of international conferences and summits. There he wrote a book of memories of his tenure as President and the peace processes that he leaded then, named “Word under Fire”.
In October 2005, he was appointed Ambassador of Colombia to the United States by President Alvaro Uribe, a position which he held until August 2006.
President Pastrana’s political career began in the early 1982 when he was twice elected to the Bogotá city council. In 1988, at age 34, he became the first elected Mayor in Bogotá’s history. During his campaign for Mayor, Pastrana was kidnapped by the Medellín drug cartel and, after a week in captivity, freed by police in a dramatic rescue. As mayor, he improved the city’s schools, lowered crime rates, expanded water supply to poor neighborhoods, and established a network of drug abuse clinics.
In 1991, he created the New Democratic Force, an independent political group, and launched a campaign for the Colombian Senate. The party made history by winning eight independent seats, the largest number ever in the Senate. Pastrana served in the Senate until 1993. The following year, his 1994 presidential campaign united the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Force. The election was the closest contest in Colombian history – he lost the national election in the second round by less than 1% of the vote. Over the following four years, Mr. Pastrana worked as a consultant to the United Nations as part of that institution’s Young Leadership Program, as well as preparing for his return to the political arena and his successful presidential campaign in 1998.
Prior to entering public service, Mr. Pastrana was a respected journalist as the founder of a political magazine, Guion, and news director and anchorman of a daily nationwide news program, TV-Hoy (TV-Today). In the 1980’s, he won several prestigious awards for his reporting, such as the International “Rey de España” in Madrid (twice), and the Journalism Award “Simón Bolívar” in Bogotá.
Andrés Pastrana has also been member of the Executive Committee of the International Union Local Authorities, President of the Latin American Chapter of this Union, Vice-President of the Union of Ibero-american capital cities, twice President of the World Mayor’s Drug Conference, Secretary-General of the Latin American Union Parties and Assessor of the United Nations University in Tokyo. In 2004, he was appointed Vice-President of the Center Democratic International (CDI).
He has received a number of decoration medals and orders during his public life. Among them, he was elected the Colombian Executive of the Year (1981) by the Junior Chamber of Colombia and has received the Order of UNESCO, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, de Civil Order of Merit of City of Bogotá and the most important decoration medals from the governments of Colombia, France, Spain, Venezuela, Chile, México, Ecuador, Argentina, Costa Rica an the Dominican Republic.
President Pastrana is the son of a former Colombian President, Misael Pastrana Borrero, who governed Colombia from 1970 to 1974. He has a law degree from the University of El Rosario in Bogotá, and was a fellow at the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. He is married to Nohra Puyana de Pastrana. They have three children.