Alfonso López Michelsen
President López in 1977.
|24th President of Colombia|
7 August 1974 –7 August 1978
|Preceded by||Misael Pastrana Borrero|
|Succeeded by||Julio César Turbay Ayala|
|Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia|
14 August 1968 –7 August 1970
|President||Carlos Lleras Restrepo|
|Preceded by||Germán Zea Hernández|
|Succeeded by||Alfredo Vázquez Carrizosa|
|1st Governor of Cesar|
21 December 1967 –14 August 1968
|President||Carlos Lleras Restrepo|
|Succeeded by||Luis Roberto García Díaz-Granados|
|Born||30 June 1913|
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
|Died||11 July 2007 94) (aged|
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
|Resting place||Central Cemetery of Bogotá|
|Spouse(s)||Cecilia Caballero Blanco (1938–2007)|
|Relations||Alfonso López Pumarejo (father)|
|Alma mater||Our Lady of the Rosary University (JD, 1937)|
Alfonso López Michelsen (30 June 1913 – 11 July 2007) was a Colombian politician and lawyer who served the 24th President of Colombia from 1974 to 1978. He was nicknamed "El Pollo" (The Chicken), a popular Colombian idiom for people with precocious careers.
The President of Colombia, officially known as the President of the Republic of Colombia is the head of state and head of government of Colombia. The office of president was established upon the ratification of the Constitution of 1819, by the Congress of Angostura, convened in December 1819, when Colombia was the "Gran Colombia". The first president, General Simón Bolívar, took office in 1819. His position, initially self-proclaimed, was subsequently ratified by Congress.
López was the son of former two-time president of Colombia, Alfonso López Pumarejo. He was born and raised in Bogotá. He studied at the Gimnasio Moderno School and later in other cities: Paris, Brussels, London and Santiago de Chile. He graduated with a degree in law from the Universidad del Rosario.
Alfonso López Pumarejo was a Colombian political figure, who twice served as President of Colombia, as a member of the Colombian Liberal Party. He served as President of Colombia for the first time between 1934 and 1938 and again between 1942 and 1945.
Bogotá, officially Bogotá, Distrito Capital, abbreviated Bogotá, D.C., and formerly known as Santafé/Santa Fe de Bogotá between 1991 and 2000, is the capital and largest city of Colombia, administered as the Capital District, although often erroneously thought of as part of Cundinamarca. Bogotá is a territorial entity of the first order, with the same administrative status as the departments of Colombia. It is the political, economic, administrative and industrial center of the country.
The Gimnasio Moderno is a private all-male traditional and liberal, primary and secondary school located in Bogotá, Colombia. It was founded in 1914 by various prestigious Colombians following the leading initiative of Don Agustín Nieto Caballero. Some of the remarkable personalities who acted as co-founders of this New School were: Don José María Samper Brush, Don Daniel Samper Ortega, Don Tomás Rueda Vargas, and Ricardo Lleras Codazzi. These gentlemen were predominant freethinkers at the time in Colombia.
During his father's presidency, López maintained a low profile in politics and instead focused on becoming a university professor at the Universidad del Rosario.
In 1938, López married Cecilia Caballero Blanco in Bogotá. They moved to the outskirts of Bogotá in a hacienda in the then municipality of Engativá, Cundinamarca Department (nowadays a Locality of Bogotá). Settled in this town, López had his first experience with politics becoming a town councilman. During this time, his fellow councilmen included two other politicians who went to become key political players in the country, Álvaro Gómez Hurtado and future president Julio César Turbay Ayala.
A hacienda, in the colonies of the Spanish Empire, is an estate, similar to a Roman latifundium. Some haciendas were plantations, mines or factories. Many haciendas combined these activities. The word is derived from the Spanish word "hacer" or "haciendo", which means: to make or be making, respectively; and were largely business enterprises consisting of various money making ventures including raising farm animals and maintaining orchards.
The Municipalities of Colombia are decentralized subdivisions of the Republic of Colombia. Municipalities make up most of the departments of Colombia with 1,122 municipalities (municipios). Each one of them is led by a mayor (alcalde) elected by popular vote and represents the maximum executive government official at a municipality level under the mandate of the governor of their department which is a representative of all municipalities in the department; municipalities are grouped to form departments.
Engativá is the 10th locality of Bogotá. It is located in the west of the city. This district is mostly inhabited by lower middle and working class residents.
In 1959, a group of his former college students founded the Liberal Revolutionary Movement (MRL) as a reaction against the pact between the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party to create the National Front, in which the two parties took turns to govern. López Michelsen was then offered the leadership of the newly created MRL and he accepted, becoming a presidential candidate for the 1962 presidential elections. López lost the election by a large margin to Conservative candidate Guillermo León Valencia.
The Colombian Liberal Party is a centrist and social liberal political party in Colombia. It was founded as a classical liberal party but later developed a more social-democratic tradition, joining the Socialist International in 1999.
The Colombian Conservative Party is a conservative political party in Colombia. The party was formally established in 1849 by Mariano Ospina Rodríguez and José Eusebio Caro.
National Front was a period in the history of Colombia in which the two main political parties, the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, agreed to rotate power, intercalating for a period of four presidential terms. The National Front Presidents were Alberto Lleras Camargo (Liberal), Guillermo León Valencia (Conservative), Carlos Lleras Restrepo (Liberal), and Misael Pastrana Borrero (Conservative).
In 1966, López was elected as a senator and negotiated the return of the MRL to the Liberal Party in 1967. This same year López traveled to the city of Valledupar after being appointed by President Carlos Lleras Restrepo as the first governor of Cesar Department, a newly created province in the northern Caribbean Region of Colombia. López was able to trace his grandmothers' family ancestors "the Pumarejos," back to this town. During those years, he was also instrumental for the creation of the Vallenato Legend Festival (nowadays, one of the most important cultural events in Colombia) along with vallenato composer Rafael Escalona and journalist Consuelo Araújo. He served as governor of Cesar from December 21, 1967, until August 14, 1968.
The Senate of the Republic of Colombia is the upper house of the Congress of Colombia, with the lower house being the House of Representatives. The Senate has 108 members elected for concurrent (non-rotating) four-year terms.
Valledupar is a city and municipality in northeastern Colombia. It is the capital of Cesar Department. Its name, Valle de Upar, was established in honor of the Amerindian cacique who ruled the valley; Cacique Upar. The city lies between the mountains of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Serranía del Perijá to the borders of the Guatapurí and Cesar rivers.
Carlos Alberto Lleras Restrepo is a Colombian politician and lawyer who served the 22nd President of Colombia from 1966 to 1970.
A year later, he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs until the end of the presidential term of President Carlos Lleras Restrepo in 1970.
In 1974, López was chosen by the Liberal Party as their candidate for president, after defeating former president Carlos Lleras Restrepo in the party presidential primaries, with the support of former candidate (and presidential successor) Julio César Turbay. He won the general election by a large margin against the Conservative Party candidate Álvaro Gómez Hurtado, and the ANAPO candidate, María Eugenia Rojas. His 2,929,719 votes were the highest ever for any president until that time.
His inaugural presidential speech, delivered on August 7, 1974, is mostly remembered for calling the disputed border area in the Gulf of Venezuela by its native indigenous name, "Gulf of Coquibacoa" given by the wayuus. In his speech he also promised to reduce the growing gap between farmer and urban populations and to fight poverty, messages that attracted the support of many left-wing political movements.
As a president, López declared economic emergency in order to correct the fiscal deficit, which allowed him to implement a number of regulatory measures to control spending, and to reduce subsidies and programs like the tax credit certificate (CAT) which reimbursed partial or total taxes for exporting companies. He also introduced a tax and fiscal reform which increased national saving, and allowed an increase in public investment and exports. Crop production increased 16%, and he also created public offices devoted to the improvement of farming. Under his government, also, power grids were expanded, and infrastructure investment increased. In contrast, inflation reached under his government its highest historical values, at around 32%.
Early support for his policies soon turned to fierce opposition, as many of his campaign promises, in particular those to make deals with unions and in the improvement of potable water access, went unfulfilled, and as subsidies were eliminated and inflation rose. Unions and other leftist activists had been accumulating frustration and resentment for decades after the killing of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, and the subsequent violence, and the hope for a more open society that came with Lopez election turned into feelings of betrayal. As a result, and after three years as president the major Colombian Unions got together and managed to propose and organize a massive, general strike. The López administration took a hard approach towards the planned strike, calling it subversive and at some point threatening arrest and forbidding public meetings.This only enraged the participants, and the major unionists were joined by teachers, students, independent workers, housewives, guerrilla leaders, and even members of the opposition conservative party. The organizing committee demanded among other things salary increases, frozen prices for essential goods and public services fees, reestablishment of the right to meet and strike, and a reduction in work hours.
The strike, occurring on September 14, 1977, came to be known as the National Civil Strike, and it attracted such a large number of discontented participants that the organizing committee soon lost control over it. Major roads were blocked all over Bogota, and in many other cities around the country, and very soon many small skirmishes between protesters and riot police started occurring all over. The manifestations and skirmishes soon turned into riots, and protesters started pillaging on big stores and vandalizing factories and cars. By 4 pm the major declared curfew which only made protesters more enraged. Hundreds of protesters were wounded, and thousands were arrested and assembled in the city's Soccer stadium and bullfighting arena. Riots and skirmishes continued all night and well into the next day, which devastated the city. About 20 or 30 people died in the middle of it.As a consequence, unions declared victory and the López Michelsen's government had to make concessions. Alternatively, the riot made his government to adopt a harshest, more repressive stance.
Upon the end of his term in 1978, he again became the leader of Liberal Party. He ran for president again in 1982, but was defeated by the Conservative Party candidate, Belisario Betancur.
He continued to actively participate in the decision making of the Liberal Party until the early 1990s when he decided to withdraw from political activity. He was a regular columnist for the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo which drew attention to many critical issues. For this reason he was called "el hombre que pone a pensar al pais" (Spanish for "The man who made the country think").
Lopez Michelsen died in Bogotá on July 11, 2007, after suffering a heart attack.
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Alfonso López Caballero is a Colombian economist and diplomat, the son and grandson of former Presidents of Colombia, Alfonso López Michelsen and Alfonso López Pumarejo respectively, and former congressman, government minister, ambassador to France, Canada, the United Kingdom, and presidential candidate.
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Misael Pastrana Borrero
| President of Colombia |
Julio César Turbay Ayala