César Gaviria

The Colombian former president César Gaviria-known in Latin America as a mediator of conflicts, defender of democracy and human rights and strong supporter of the regional integration- was elected general secretary of the OEA for the first time in 1994. He was later re-elected for the member countries in 1999 and assumed his second command in September of that year.

The intervention of the general secretary has been instrumental in the distention of several crises of the región, more recently in Venezuela. Between November of 2002 and May of 2003, he assumed a hard effort in the facilitation of the negotiations between the Venezuelan government and the party opponents.

César Gaviria started his political career at the age of 23, after receiving the Economy degree in the University of Los Andes in Bogotá, when he was elected councilor of Pereira, his home town. Four years later he was elected mayor of that same city. In 1971, he was also a teacher in the class of Principles of Economy and Public Finances at the University of Andes and from 1972 to 1974 he taught a seminar in the Colombian Economy at the Technologic University of Pereira.

In 1974, he was elected as a member of the Camera of Representatives of Colombia, in which he came to be president in 1983. Between 1983 y 1986, Gaviria was an economy chronicler for “El Tiempo”, the main newspaper in Colombia and director of “La Tarde”, a regional newspaper edited in his home town.

In 1986 he was elected as co-director in the Liberal Party in Colombia, a role that he practiced during the successful presidential campaign of Virgilio Barco, the candidate of the party.

During his government(1900-1994), he promoted a policy of aperture of democratic channels and peace to reintegrate into civil life the armed rebel groups. He also developed a process of constitutional and institutional changes that concentrated on the strengthening of the judiciary power and the protection of human rights.

In 1991, through a plebiscite and an elected constituent assembly, Colombia wrote a newer and more democratic constitution. Gaviria’s government created numerous energetic alterations to modernize and improve the competitive level of Colombia in the global market. He also preceded the signing of free trade agreements between Colombia, México and Venezuela(“Grupo de Los Tres”) and between Colombia and CARICOM, and started the revitalization of the Andean Pact.