Belisario Betancur

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Belisario Betancur Cuartas
Belisario Betancur.jpg
Betancur in 2009.
26th President of Colombia
In office
7 August 1982 (1982-08-07) – 7 August 1986 (1986-08-07)
Preceded by Julio César Turbay Ayala
Succeeded by Virgilio Barco Vargas
Colombia Ambassador to Spain
In office
16 December 1975 – January 1977
President Alfonso López Michelsen
Preceded by Álvaro Lloreda Caicedo
Succeeded by Samuel Hoyos Arango
Minister of Labour of Colombia
In office
7 August 1962 (1962-08-07) – 23 April 1963
President Guillermo León Valencia
Preceded by Juan Benavides Patron
Succeeded by Castor Jaramillo Arrubla
Personal details
Born (1923-02-04) 4 February 1923 (age 95)
Amagá, Antioquia, Colombia
Nationality Colombian
Political party Conservative
Alma mater Pontifical Bolivarian University (JD, 1955)
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic

Belisario Betancur Cuartas (born February 4, 1923) is a former Colombian politician and the 26th President of Colombia from 1982 to 1986. He is the member of the Colombian Conservative Party.

Biographic data

Betancur was born in the vicinity of "el Morro de la Paila", of the town of Amagá, Antioquia. His father, Rosendo Betancur, was a blue-collar worker at the textile company Coltejer, a job that he obtained after having spent most of his life transporting goods by mule through the mountains of Antioquia. His mother, Ana Otilia Cuartas, had a small shop in Amagá. She died in 1950.[1]

Early life

Betancur started his education in the public school of Amagá. He later transferred to the seminary "Misiones de Yarumal, where he studied for the priesthood. He was dismissed from the seminary for disciplinary matters. Betancur then traveled to the city of Medellín, where he enrolled in the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana. There, he excelled in his studies and obtained exceptional grades. Upon completing his high-school education, the Headmaster of the school, Monsignor Manuel José Sierra, granted him a scholarship to complete his higher education. In 1955, Betancur graduated in jurisprudence and obtained a Law and Economics degree.[1]

Political career

He began his political career as a Deputy to the Assembly of the Colombian province of Antioquia, where he served from 1945 to 1947. He also served as a Representative to the National Chamber for the departments of Cundinamarca and Antioquia, and was a member of the National Constituent Assembly from 1953 to 1957.

Betancur was the Minister of Labor in 1963 and Ambassador of Colombia to Spain from 1975 to 1977.

He ran as for president as an independent Conservative candidate in the election of 1970, coming in third. He again ran as the official Conservative candidate in the election of 1978, but was defeated by Julio César Turbay Ayala.


He was finally elected President in 1982 and served until 1986. As President, he began the Grupo de Contadora por la Paz en Centroamérica, began democratic reforms by incorporating the principal armed movements into civil life, promoted low-cost housing and open universities, began a literacy campaign and endorsed tax amnesty.

During his term, the government approved the mayoral election law, municipal and departmental reforms, judicial and congressional reforms, the television statute, the federal holiday law, and the new Código Contencioso Administrativo. His administration began the exploration and export of coal in the Cerrejón North region and the broadcast of the regional television channels Teleantioquia and Telecaribe.

Colombia's four failed peace talks[1]
Year President Ended because
1982–1985 Belisario Betancur Most Supreme Court Justices were killed when M-19 commandos and the Army fought for control of the building
1986–1990 Virgilio Barco Vargas FARC ambush killed 26 soldiers in Caquetá
1990–1992 César Gaviria Trujillo FARC attack on the Senate President. FARC kidnapping and killing of an ex-cabinet member.
1998–2002 Andrés Pastrana Arango FARC kidnapping of Senator

Betancur is also noted for his attempts to bring peace to his country. During his administration he initiated peace talks with several Colombian guerilla groups. The controversial Palace of Justice siege occurred in late 1985, less than a year before the end of his presidential term.


Betancur is currently the an Honorary Member of the Club of Rome for Latin America,[2] President of the Commission for Truth in the Salvadoran peace process, President of the Pan American Health Organization in Washington, and President of the Santillana for Latin America Foundation in Bogotá. He is also a founding member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.


Betancur is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the Universities of Colorado and Georgetown, and the Prince of Asturias Peace Award (Spain). He is the author of numerous books and a member of the Colombian Academies of History, Jurisprudence and Language.

Popular culture

Betancur is portrayed by the actor Jaime Barbini as the character of Silvio De la Cruz in TV Series Escobar, el patrón del mal. Betancur is mentioned in a song by the Spanish pop band "Un Pinguino en mi Ascensor" titled "El Sendero Luminoso (me persigue sin reposo)", in the verse "el procónsul honorario / está reunido con Belisario" (the honorary proconsul / is in a meeting with Belisario).


  1. ^ "Why did the Colombia Peace Process Fail?" (PDF). The Tabula Rasa Institute. Retrieved 2006-02-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> [PDF file]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Arismendi Posada, Ignacio; Gobernantes Colombianos; trans. Colombian Presidents; Interprint Editors Ltd., Italgraf, Segunda Edición; Page 255; Bogotá, Colombia; 1983
  2. "Honorary Member | THE CLUB OF ROME (". Retrieved 2015-09-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • La penitencia del poder, El Navegante, Bogotá, 1991
  • El Homo sapiens se extravió en América Latina, Tercer Mundo, Bogotá, 1990
  • Desde otro punto de vista, Tercer Mundo, Bogotá, 1976
  • El Cristo del desarrollo, Bogotá, 1968
  • El rostro anhelante, Bogotá, 1977
  • Desde el alma del abedul, Bogotá, 1980
  • Colombia cara a cara, Bogotá, 1981
  • Declaración de amor, Tercer Mundo, Bogotá, 1997
  • La pasión de gobernar, Tercer Mundo, 1999

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Julio César Turbay Ayala
President of Colombia
Succeeded by
Virgilio Barco Vargas