This handsome rancher with a boyish face (in the Alan Ladd style) loves politics and the countryside and became Colombia’s highly-popular president in 2002 at the age of fifty. Born in Medellin, Colombia’s second-largest city, on July 4, 1952, he lived both in the city and sometimes on one of his father’s ranches, with his four siblings. They all began riding horses and going to bullfights at an early age and watched as Castalia, a thoroughbred owned by Uribe’s father, Alberto Uribe, won different equestrian prizes. For the most part, Uribe grew up studying in Catholic schools. His parents separated when he was twelve, so, being the oldest, he sort of began looking after his mother, Laura.
Uribe met Lina Moreno, today his wife, on one of the famous streets of Medellin, according to legend. He was 27 and she, 23, and some say it was love at first sight. They got married in August, 1979, eight months after having met. Soon two sons were born. Lina is the daughter of one of Medellin’s past mayors. The family spent 1998 in England while Uribe studied at Oxford. His mother died in Medellin that year.
For Uribe, certain similarities exist when taming a horse and governing a state or nation. “The horse demands that, before thinking about disciplining him, one has to discipline oneself for equilibrium. A horse doesn’t accept flattery or mistreatment, but demands balance. A government demands the same.” he is alleged to have said.
Uribe’s first “important” job in the public sector was as director of the nation’s aeronautical agency in 1978. He was 26 years old. Later, he served as mayor of Medellin before running for a position in the Congress. He became a national senator in 1986 and in 1990. Then in 1995, he became governor of the western Colombian state of Antioquia, of which Medellin is the capital, basing his campaign on important issues such as law and order, an educational revolution, and “less government.” These were years of crucial training for the future Chief Executive. It was after his return from Oxford that he began working seriously on his lifelong dream: obtaining the Colombian presidency.
Uribe campaigned heavily in 2001. His platform included the need to confront those citizens dedicated to promoting violence and political chaos with the full force of the law. No more peace dialogs and pampering of insurgents. Gradually the voters began to side with Uribe and his philosophy for governance. Today he is one of the most popular presidents not only in his own country but in the world. His acceptability rating constantly oscillates within the range of 70 to 80 percent. Uribe is human, therefore, imperfect and has his share of enemies and rivals. But, literally, he also has hordes of friends and supporters. Some say he is the most popular president ever to have served in Colombian history.
Alvaro Uribe Velez: su vida en fotos. Cromos magazine supplement.