Alfonso Lopez Caballero
Alfonso Lopez Caballero is an influential Colombian politician. He is the son of Alfonso Lopez Michelsen, who was president from 1974 to 1978 [*], and grandson of Alfonso Lopez Pumarejo, who was president from 1934 to 1938, and once again from 1942 to 1945 [*].
Educated in the traditional Gimnasio Moderno in Bogota, finished his high school in the USA and attended Georgetown, INSEAD in France and Columbia. Started his professional career in the First National City Bank, has spent considerable time outside Colombia as a diplomat, and in the country mainly in charge of his private businesses.
His standing in national politics is a reflection of his personality: He is quietly but extremely influential in various regions of the country through the support that traditional politicians bring to his family and through the personal and political liking that they have for Lopez Caballero [*]. He has faced different scandals created by his political opponents and which have never gone beyond the focus of the media. Not being a pugnacious character, and admitting that these sort of attacks come with the job, he has never taken interest in clearing his name or in pursuing a legal process.
Today Lopez Caballero is one of the leading contenders of Colombia's Liberal Party to the office of President of Colombia
Lopez Caballero was ambassador to France, from where he returned to serve president Gaviria as his minister for agriculture. He served as ambassador to Canada and then returned to Colombia to serve as minister of interior.
His mother has been a great influence in his life and in private he explains how she taught him that it is better to convince through actions than through argument. The application of this principle and his pragmatism are what makes him an unconventional kind of politician: He keeps a low profile while quietly achieving the goals set by the presidents or by himself. Lopez Caballero's effectiveness and his lack of interest for the spotlight is what led president Pastrana to appoint him as one of the government's negotiators during the peace process with the FARC communist guerrillas. During the peace negotiations he earned the respect and the trust of the top members of the guerrilla group, mainly due to his clarity, his understanding of the country and its politics, and more importantly, to the sincerity and openness with which Lopez Caballero faced the multiple discussions [*]. Earning this recognition from the FARC was seen as quite remarkable by some commentators given that Lopez Caballero was clearly a representative of the political, social and economic elite of the country [*].
Going against his father's ideas once again, Lopez Caballero supported Alvaro Uribe from the beginning of his presidential campaign while Lopez Michelsen supported Horacio Serpa. Lopez Caballero was appointed ambassador to the United Kingdom by president Uribe where he was instrumental in strengthening commercial links and in gaining support for an offensive against the guerrillas, paramilitaries and organized crime [*].
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