Elections 2014: The Candidates

Collage of the 2014 Presidential candidates.
Collage of the 2014 Presidential candidates.

Clara López

Clara López was born in Bogotá in 1951 and went to high school and college in the United States, where she became involved in polItics protesting the Vietnam War. She has a degree in economics from the University of Harvard and a law degree from the Universidad de los Andes. She has served as Economic Secretary of the Presidency under her uncle, former president Alfonso López Michelsen, as Comptroller of Bogotá, and as President of the District Council of Bogotá. She was the vice-presidential candidate for her party, the Polo Democrático Alternativo, in the 2010 elections. When Samuel Moreno was ousted from his position as Mayor of Bogotá in 2011, President Juan Manuel Santos appointed López as the acting mayor for six months.

López believes in promoting social inclusion in Colombia and in creating an alternative economic model that rejects neoliberalism and enables Colombia to become a welfare state. She supports the peace negotiations with FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and believes that sustainable peace can only be achieved accompanied by social justice.

Marta Lucía Ramiréz

Marta Lucía Ramírez, the candidate for the Conservative Party, was born in Bogotá in 1954 and studied law at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. She has served as a senator, as the Colombian Ambassador to France, as Minister of Foreign Commerce under former president Andrés Pastrana, and as Defense Minister under former president Álvaro Uribe. She has also worked in the private sector as a lawyer and as the president of several financial institutions.

As Minister of Defense, Ramírez helped create Uribe’s “democratic security” policy, which aimed to wipe out the FARC, and established a school for human rights within the armed forces. As a senator, she presented a bill that incentivized hiring recent college graduates and another that made teaching English in schools mandatory. Ramírez is not opposed to negotiating a peace agreement with FARC, but believes they should stop recruiting children and turn over maps indicating the locations of landmines as conditions for peace. If elected president, Ramírez would put a time limit of four months for the on-going peace negotiations

Juan Manuel Santos

Current president Juan Manuel Santos was born in Bogotá in 1951 and has studied at the Naval School in Cartagena, the University of Kansas, the London School of Economics, the University of Harvard, and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. President Santos was deputy director of the newspaper El Tiempo and served as Minister of Defense under former president Álvaro Uribe before being elected president in 2010. President Santos belongs to the political party Partido de la U, which he founded in 2005.

During his first term, President Santos started peace negotiations between the Colombian government and FARC, the country’s oldest guerrilla group. Although other political factions oppose the peace process, President Santos has promoted these talks as a means of securing an end to a fifty-year-old armed conflict. President Santos has also promoted free trade agreements and foreign investment in Colombia, including an agreement with the United States, and concentrated on improving relations with neighboring Venezuela and Ecuador.

Enrique Peñalosa

Enrique Peñalosa was born in Washington DC in 1954 to Colombian parents. He studied at the Gimnasio Campestre and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Duke University, a Master’s Degree from the International Institute of Public Administration in Paris and a Ph.D. in Public Administration from the University of Paris II. Peñalosa served as a national representative for Bogotá, as Economic Secretary under former president Virgilio Barco, and as Director of the Colombian Institute of Savings and Housing before elected Mayor of Bogotá in 1997.

As mayor, Peñalosa focused on developing infrastructure and creating public spaces. He built public libraries, schools, and bike routes and started the TransMilenio. After his term as mayor, Peñalosa ran unsuccessfully for the senate and twice more for the position of mayor. He is currently affiliated with the political party Alianza Verde, which promotes social inclusion through public education and healthcare reform, environmental protection, renegotiating Colombia’s free trade agreements, and supporting the government’s peace process with FARC.

Oscar Iván Zuluaga

Óscar Iván Zuluaga was born in 1959 in the department of Caldas. He studied economics at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and received a Master’s Degree in Public Finance from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. He served as a city councilman and as the mayor of his hometown of Pensilvania before becoming a businessman in the iron and steel industry. In 2002, Zuluaga was elected as a national senator and actively promoted the reelection of former president Álvaro Uribe. Zuluaga served as Minister Counselor of the Presidency and Finance Minister under Uribe.

As the presidential candidate for Uribe’s Centro Democrático party, Zuluaga is opposed to any peace agreement with FARC that would allow demobilized guerrilla fighters to participate in politics. Instead, he proposes increased security measures to fight drug trafficking, extortion, urban crime and terrorism. He also supports increasing economic development in the countryside, healthcare reform that focuses on preventative care, and education reform that includes increasing the length of the school day.



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