The Most Famous

POLITICIANS from Colombia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Colombian Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 15,710 Politicians, 37 of which were born in Colombia. This makes Colombia the birth place of the 67th most number of Politicians behind Uruguay and Mongolia.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Colombian Politicians of all time. This list of famous Colombian Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Colombian Politicians.

Photo of César Gaviria

1. César Gaviria (1947 - )

With an HPI of 71.73, César Gaviria is the most famous Colombian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 34 different languages on wikipedia.

César Augusto Gaviria Trujillo (Spanish: [ˈsesaɾ awˈɣusto ɣaˈβiɾja tɾuˈxiʝo] ; born 31 March 1947) is a Colombian economist and politician who served as the President of Colombia from 1990 to 1994, Secretary General of the Organization of American States from 1994 to 2004 and National Director of the Colombian Liberal Party from 2005 to 2009. During his tenure as president, he summoned the Constituent Assembly of Colombia that enacted the Constitution of 1991.

Photo of Juan Manuel Santos

2. Juan Manuel Santos (1951 - )

With an HPI of 71.66, Juan Manuel Santos is the 2nd most famous Colombian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 86 different languages.

Juan Manuel Santos Calderón (Spanish: [ˈxwam maˈnwel ˈsantos kaldeˈɾon]; born 10 August 1951) is a Colombian politician who was the President of Colombia from 2010 to 2018. He was the sole recipient of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. An economist by profession and a journalist by trade, Santos is a member of the wealthy and influential Santos family, who from 1913 to 2007 were the majority shareholders of the newspaper El Tiempo until its sale to Planeta DeAgostini in 2007. He was a cadet at the Navy Academy in Cartagena. Shortly after graduating from the University of Kansas, he joined the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia as an economic advisor and delegate to the International Coffee Organization in London, where he also attended the London School of Economics. In 1981, he was appointed deputy director of El Tiempo newspaper, becoming its director two years later. Santos earned a mid-career/master's in public administration in 1981 from Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and was a 1988 Nieman Fellow for his award-winning work as a columnist and reporter. Santos was a Fulbright visiting fellow at Fletcher at Tufts University in 1981. Santos has been a member of the Washington-based think tank the Inter-American Dialogue since 1990, and he previously served as co-chair of the Board of Directors. Santos was president of the Freedom of Expression Commission for the Inter American Press Association. In 1991, he was appointed by President César Gaviria Trujillo as Colombia's first Minister of Foreign Trade. Santos worked in expanding international trade with Colombia, and worked in creating various agencies for this purpose including: Proexport, Bancoldex and Fiducoldex. In 2000, he was appointed by President Andrés Pastrana Arango as the 64th Minister of Finance and Public Credit.Santos rose to prominence during the Administration of President Álvaro Uribe Vélez. In 2005, he co-founded and led the Social Party of National Unity (Party of the U), a liberal-conservative party coalition that backed the policies of President Uribe, successfully supporting his attempt to seek a Constitutional reform to be able to run for a second term. In 2006, after Uribe's re-election, when the Party of the U won a majority of seats in the two chambers of Congress, Santos was appointed as Minister of National Defence, and continued defending the security policies of President Uribe, taking a strong and forceful stance against FARC and the other guerrilla groups operating in Colombia. Santos also created the Good Government Foundation. In 2010, Santos won the presidential election as the protégé of his predecessor Álvaro Uribe Vélez. However, some months after Santos' possession, Uribe became his strongest opponent, who also founded, three years later, the opposition party Democratic Center. This rivalry determined both Santos' unpopularity and his near-missed defeat during the presidential election in 2014 before Uribe's protégé Oscar Iván Zuluaga.On 7 October 2016, Santos was announced as recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, for his efforts negotiating a peace treaty with the FARC-guerrilla in the country, despite his defeat in the referendum held over the deal, where the "no" campaign led by Uribe's party Democratic Center won. The Colombian government and the FARC signed a revised peace deal on 24 November and sent it to Congress for ratification instead of conducting a second referendum. Both houses of Congress ratified the revised peace accord on 29–30 November 2016, thus marking an end to the conflict. The treaty brought deep divisions and polarization in the country, which questions its legitimacy. Juan Manuel Santos has been named as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people. However, Santos left office with one of the lowest levels of popular approval ever, and his successor was Uribe's new protégé, Iván Duque Márquez, a moderate critic of Santos' peace treaty with the FARC-guerilla.

Photo of Luis Carlos Galán

3. Luis Carlos Galán (1943 - 1989)

With an HPI of 68.21, Luis Carlos Galán is the 3rd most famous Colombian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 17 different languages.

Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento (29 September 1943 – 18 August 1989) was a Colombian liberal politician and journalist who ran for the Presidency of Colombia on two occasions, the first time for the political movement New Liberalism that he founded in 1979. The movement was an offspring of the mainstream Colombian Liberal Party, and with mediation of former Liberal president Julio César Turbay Ayala, Galán returned to the Liberal party in 1989 and sought the nomination for the 1990 presidential election. Galán declared himself an enemy of the drug cartels and the influence of the mafia in Colombian politics, in this case the main drug cartel being the Medellin Cartel led by Pablo Escobar and who unsuccessfully tried to become a member of the New Liberalism Movement in his bid to become a member of the Colombian House of Representatives. Galán denounced Pablo Escobar in a public rally, and supported the extradition treaty with the U.S, contrary to the wishes of the Colombian cartels that feared extradition to the U.S. After receiving several death threats, on 18 August 1989, Galán was shot to death by hitmen hired by the drug cartels during a campaign rally in the town of Soacha, Cundinamarca. At the time, Galán was comfortably leading the polls with 60 percent favourable ratings for the forthcoming 1990 presidential election. The investigation into his assassination remains unsolved.

Photo of Francisco de Paula Santander

4. Francisco de Paula Santander (1792 - 1840)

With an HPI of 67.72, Francisco de Paula Santander is the 4th most famous Colombian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Francisco José de Paula Santander y Omaña (Villa del Rosario, Norte de Santander, Colombia, April 2, 1792 – Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia, May 6, 1840), was a Colombian military and political leader during the 1810–1819 independence war of the United Provinces of New Granada (present-day Colombia). He was the acting President of Gran Colombia between 1819 and 1826, and later elected by Congress as the President of the Republic of New Granada between 1832 and 1837. Santander came to be known as "The Man of the Laws" ("El Hombre de las Leyes").

Photo of Álvaro Uribe

5. Álvaro Uribe (1952 - )

With an HPI of 67.56, Álvaro Uribe is the 5th most famous Colombian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 52 different languages.

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 started his political career in his home department of Antioquia. He held offices in the Public Enterprises of Medellín and in the Ministry of Labor and was the director of the Special Administrative Unit of Civil Aeronautics (1980–1982). He became Mayor of Medellín in October 1982. 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 an all out military offensive against leftist guerrilla groups such as the FARC and the ELN with funding and backing from the Clinton and Bush Administrations in the form of a 2.8 billion dollars direct foreign aid package called "Plan Colombia", as well as leading a controversial 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 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 alleged exactions: thousands of civilians were killed by the Colombian army (see "False positives" scandal) with almost total impunity, being investigated by the United Nations. Millions of people have been victims of forced displacement.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 far-right 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 guerrillas.In August 2020 the Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia ordered his arrest as part of an investigation into bribery and witness tampering as well as crimes against humanity for his alleged involvement with right wing paramilitary units in the massacres at El Aro and La Granja, which took place while he was Governor of Antioquia.

Photo of Virgilio Barco Vargas

6. Virgilio Barco Vargas (1921 - 1997)

With an HPI of 66.98, Virgilio Barco Vargas is the 6th most famous Colombian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 29 different languages.

Virgilio Barco Vargas (17 September 1921 – 20 May 1997) was a Colombian politician and civil engineer who served as the 27th President of Colombia serving from 7 August 1986 to 7 August 1990.

Photo of Belisario Betancur

7. Belisario Betancur (1923 - 2018)

With an HPI of 66.68, Belisario Betancur is the 7th most famous Colombian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 34 different languages.

Belisario Betancur Cuartas (4 February 1923 – 7 December 2018) was a Colombian politician who served as the 26th President of Colombia from 1982 to 1986. He was a member of the Colombian Conservative Party. His presidency was noted for its attempted peace talks with several Colombian guerilla groups. He was also one of the few presidents to abstain from participating in politics after leaving office.

Photo of Rodrigo Lara

8. Rodrigo Lara (1946 - 1984)

With an HPI of 66.54, Rodrigo Lara is the 8th most famous Colombian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Rodrigo Lara Bonilla (August 11, 1946 – April 30, 1984) was a Colombian lawyer and politician, who served as Minister of Justice under President Belisario Betancur, and was assassinated by orders of Pablo Escobar because of his work as Minister in prosecuting cocaine traffickers mainly belonging to the Medellín Cartel.Lara's death led to Escobar's indictment for murder and a long running controversy over extradition in Colombia that would ultimately cost thousands of lives.

Photo of Julio César Turbay Ayala

9. Julio César Turbay Ayala (1916 - 2005)

With an HPI of 65.92, Julio César Turbay Ayala is the 9th most famous Colombian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Julio César Turbay Ayala (18 June 1916 – 13 September 2005) was a Colombian lawyer and politician who served as the 25th President of Colombia from 1978 to 1982. He also held the positions of Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the United States.

Photo of Ernesto Samper

10. Ernesto Samper (1950 - )

With an HPI of 65.83, Ernesto Samper is the 10th most famous Colombian Politician.  His biography has been translated into 29 different languages.

Ernesto Samper Pizano (born 3 August 1950) is a Colombian politician. Samper is a member of the influential Samper family. He served as the President of Colombia from 1994 to 1998, representing the Liberal Party. He currently serves as the Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). He was involved in the 8000 process scandal, which takes its name from the folio number assigned to it by the chief prosecutor's office. The prosecutor charged that money from the Cali Cartel was funneled into Samper's presidential campaign to gain his success in what would have been a very close race after he failed to win by a majority during the first round (Colombia has 2 rounds of elections, unless the first round yields a majority winner). The Colombian Chamber of Representatives acquitted Samper by a vote of 111 to 43, concluding the process.

Pantheon has 37 people classified as politicians born between 1765 and 1976. Of these 37, 9 (24.32%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include César Gaviria, Juan Manuel Santos, and Álvaro Uribe. The most famous deceased politicians include Luis Carlos Galán, Francisco de Paula Santander, and Virgilio Barco Vargas. As of October 2020, 6 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Luis Carlos Galán, Rodrigo Lara, and Antonio Nariño.

Living Politicians

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Deceased Politicians

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Newly Added Politicians (2020)

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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.