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German Vargas Lleras


German Vargas Lleras Bogota Colombia is a Colombian politician currently running for president of his country for the 2010 2014 term of office. Since 1994 when he was elected Senator for the first time, he has served four consecutive terms. In the 2006 race he became the Senator elected with the highest number of ballots. Currently he is the chairman of the Partido Cambio Radical (Radical Change Party).

He graduated from university at the law faculty of the Universidad del Rosario in Bogota, where he got his law degree. He then went to Spain to get his Ph.D in Government and Political Science at the Instituto Ortega y Gasset (Universidad Complutense de Madrid). The former Senator comes from one of the most traditional political families in the country. He is a grandson of President Carlos Lleras Restrepo and a nephew of the ex-presidential candidate Carlos Lleras de la Fuente

Political career

German Vargas Lleras began his political career while in college at 19 years of age in a successful campaign that got him elected as councilman of Bojaca, Cundinamarca in 1981 under the flags of the Nuevo Liberalismo, a dissident political movement founded by the then young Senator Luis Carlos Galan. Right after the election, Galan appointed him political coordinator for the district of Los Martires in Bogota. The experience he acquired during his tenure led him to run for city councilman of Bogota in 1988. After the assassination of his political mentor in 1989, the Nuevo Liberalismo began to crumble, and Vargas Lleras, who was then private secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, became a member of the official line of the Liberal Party Liberalismo Oficialista.

Once he joined the party he retook his tasks in the capital district of Los Martires and assembled a team that thanks to discipline and hard work, got him elected for two consecutive terms as City Councilman (1990 1994). He then ran successfully for the Senate Senado de la Republica. During his tenure in the Senate he sponsored some of the most important laws in the political history of the country.

In 1998 Vargas Lleras became the visible head of the opposition in the Senate to the government of president Andres Pastrana, mainly due to the ill-fated peace process proceso de paz with the FARC. On October 2001 he held a Senate hearing that got wide media coverage, where he showed hard evidence of the many abuses committed by the guerrillas in the so called distension zone zona de distension, the area assigned by the government for the peace talks without military or police presence. Among other things, Senator Vargas Lleras denounced the presence of hostage concentration camps, illicit crops, clandestine landing strips and terrorist camps. Surveys showed huge public support for the Senator reflecting the country's hopelessness for the continuous terrorist attacks and kidnappings in midst of the peace talks.

His staunch opposition to ongoing peace talks in midst of those circumstances, brought him nearer to Alvaro Uribe Velez, a dissident liberal candidate for the presidential election of 2002 who was calling for the end of the distension zone. So, Vargas Lleras decided to support Uribe's candidacy a decision that automatically led him to leave both the Partido Liberal and its official candidate for the presidency: Horacio Serpa.

In 2002 he ran for his third term of office in the Senate in the ticket of the political movement Colombia Siempre, a dissidence of the Liberal Party, founded by Juan Lozano. He not only got reelected but --thanks to his many votes, carried another candidate in the same ticket to get elected along him, with the third highest ballot count in the country. Five months into his third term, Senator Vargas Lleras became the victim of a terrorist attack through a bomb hidden in a book wrapped in gift paper. As a result of the attack, Vargas Lleras lost a few fingers in his left hand. Still recovering from his wounds, Vargas Lleras returned to the Senate's floor in 2003, consolidating himself as one of the leaders of President Uribe's coalition in the Senate.

In July 2005, the national news magazine Semana published a report stating that the Office of Colombia's Attorney General pointed a man called Joaquin Vergara Mojica, an ex guerrilla member of the ELN terrorist organization as the one behind the bomb-attack against Senator Vargas Lleras. The report stated that the accused along with two other reinsertados (deserters who had been pardoned) from the terrorist organization FARC, staged a plan to send explosive devices to high profile individuals Senator Vargas Lleras among them, to then seek rewards from the CIA by tipping them of the terrorist attacks before the devices exploded. According to Vergara's version, the bomb inside the book aimed for Senator Vargas Lleras exploded before the law enforcers arrived to his office.

On October 2003, Juan Lozano was defeated in his run for mayor of Bogota under the flags of his political party: Colombia Siempre. Senator Vargas Lleras then decided to join the party Cambio Radical, closer to his heart since it had been founded by a group of leaders of the by now defunct Nuevo Liberalismo. Senator Vargas Lleras rose fast among the ranks of Cambio Radical. The party elected him as its Chairman and Director in the summer of 2004; soon after, the party became one of the most powerful majority groups both in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

In the second half of 2005 a group of uribistas (Uribe followers) led by Juan Manuel Santos founded the Partido de la U (Party of the U), and publicly invited Senator Vargas Lleras to merge both parties looking to ensure the majorities in the following elections. The Senator declined the invitation arguing that both parties represented different political sectors. Soon after the elections, the infiltration of the Partido de la "U" by extreme right paramilitary organizations became public, triggering a storm of indignation among many Colombians.

Senator Vargas Lleras suffered another terrorist attack against his life, this time with a car-bomb. Vargas Lleras escaped the attack unharmed but a few of his bodyguards were seriously injured. The attack led to a confrontation between the Senator and President Uribe when the latter accused the FARC terrorist organization for the attack, disregarding leads attained by the Senator, pointing towards a possible alliance of politicians and the paramilitary organizations. The Colombian Attorney General's Office has not concluded that investigation, to date.

The 2006 elections consolidated Cambio Radical as a major political party: it got 15 Senators and 22 Congressmen elected. Senator Vargas Lleras achieved the highest number of ballots for the Senate (223.330) with a 50% advantage margin over the second runner up. Beginning 2008 Vargas Lleras went on a temporary leave of absence from the Senate to pursue studies in Europe. He was replaced by Rodrigo Lara Restrepo. However, on June of the same year he resigned his senate seat in a move to try to save the political reform law, in face of the crisis triggered by the fact that Lara Restrepo could not vote it for risk of being accused of legal bias. He was then replaced by Elsa Gladys Cifuentes, but regardless of this bold move by Vargas Lleras, the law did not pass in the Senate.

Presidential Candidacy

Vargas Lleras launched his presidential bid on the 25th of June 2009. During the event, he clearly stated that he would stay on the race regardless of whether incumbent President Alvaro Uribe Velez runs for a second re-election.4 The messaging of the former Senator has always been very clear on intending to continue with the policies of Uribe's Administration but without Uribe.

After a long campaign trail where he visited 30 of the 32 Departamentos (States) of Colombia Vargas Lleras has been gradually launching his government plan, which includes important reforms. Regardless of the offers of alliances made by a number of political parties, Vargas Lleras has decided to wait for the political landscape to become clearer. Nevertheless, he has been emphatic on stating that at the right time and under the right conditions, he would be willing to participate in a consulta interpartidista (an umbrella primary for a political alliance under one presidential ticket).

Traslation by: Morris Strong

External links

Official site of German Vargas Lleras

German Vargas Lleras' Fan Page on Facebook

German Vargas Lleras' Twitter

Profile at Votebien.com

Profile of his party Cambio Radical at Votebien.com

German Vargas Lleras should be the next president of Colombia

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article German Vargas Lleras


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