Colombia - Personal background

Alvaro Uribe Velez was born on 4 July 1952. In 1980, when he was 28 he married Lina Moreno. They have two children, Tomás and Jerónimo. Uribe holds a law degree from Antioquia University in Colombia and a master's in business administration from Harvard University. He taught at Saint Anthony's College at Oxford University in 1998 and 1999 on a scholar-exchange program. Uribe's upbringing reflects Colombia's tradition of a strong provincial middle class. Although he did not belong to a wealthy family, he had access to good elementary and secondary education and was easily admitted to Antioquia University to pursue a law degree. Uribe's formative years were apparently deeply marked by the political violence that erupted in Colombia after the assassination of Liberal Party candidate Jorge Gaitán in 1948. Colombia went through a five-year period of political violence—known as La Violencia —that ended with a military coup led by General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla one year after Uribe was born. Rojas Pinilla was himself overthrown in 1957 and a new pact between the large Liberal and Conservative parties gave the country much desired peace and stability.

While Uribe's early memories date back to Rojas Pinilla's years, he grew up during the subsequent peace era brokered by political leaders in Colombia. Under the agreement, the presidency would be alternated between Conservative and Liberal candidates. Yet, the rise of guerrilla groups in the 1960s, following the example of the Fidel Castro's revolution in Cuba and the death of the leaders who brokered peace in 1957, created a new wave of violence in Colombia in the 1970s. As a young adult, Uribe witnessed the deterioration of social peace in his country. That experience marked his political vision and shaped his career as an elected politician.

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