Álvaro Uribe Vélez

Uribe Vélez, Álvaro, 1952–, Colombian politician. A lawyer from a wealthy cattle-ranching family, he held a number of government posts before becoming mayor of Medellín in 1982; he was later a Colombian senator (1986–94) and governor of Antioquia dept. (1995–97). In 2002 Uribe, who had been a member of the Liberal party, ran as an independent candidate for the presidency, campaigning on a right-wing platform that called for taking a hard-line against the leftist rebels and fighting corruption. Surviving an assassination attempt, he won a first-round victory despite some concerns about possible associations with right-wing paramilitary groups and drug cartels. In office Uribe used increased military force against the rebels while negotiating with the paramilitaries. He was criticized for being intolerant of criticism and political opposition, and his tenure was tainted by spying and influence-peddling scandals and by links between his supporters and paramilitaries (and accusations that his family had paramilitary ties as well), but he was nonetheless popular with Colombian voters. He sought, largely unsuccessfully, to increase the presidency's power with respect to the congress, but he did win passage of a bill allowing the president to run for two consecutive terms and was reelected in 2006. In 2010 the constitutional court ruled unconstitutional a referendum on permitting him to run for a third term.

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