Juan Manuel Santos Calderón (Spanish pronunciation: [xwan maˈnwel ˈsantos kaldeˈɾon]; born 10 August 1951) is a Colombian politician who has been the President of Colombia since 7 August 2010. He previously served as Minister of Foreign Trade, Minister of Finance, and Minister of National Defense.
Juan Manuel Santos attended the Colegio San Carlos, a private secondary school in Bogotá, where he spent most of his school years until 1967, when he transferred to the Naval School of Cartagena and graduated from it in 1969. He continued in the Colombian Navy until 1971, earning a B.A. and finishing as Naval Cadet NA-42 139.
After leaving the Navy, Santos decided to continue his education in the United States, where he attended the University of Kansas and joined Delta Upsilon Fraternity. He graduated in 1973 with a B.A. in Economics and Business Administration. From there he moved to the United Kingdom to study at the London School of Economics and received a MSc in Economic Development, and in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Juan Manuel Santos has been Chief Executive of the Colombian Coffee Delegation to the International Coffee Organization in London and Sub-Director of his family owned newspaper El Tiempo. He was Minister of Foreign Trade during the administration of president César Gaviria in 1991. In 1992 he was appointed President of the VII United Nations Conference on Trade and Development for a period of four years.
In 1994 Juan Manuel Santos founded the Good Government Foundation, whose stated objective is helping and improving the governability and efficiency of the Colombian Government. This organization presented a proposal for a demilitarized zone and peace talks with the FARC guerrilla group.
Minister of Defense
Santos also founded the Social National Unity Party (Party of the U) to support the presidency of Álvaro Uribe. He was named Minister of Defense on 19 July 2006. During his tenure as Defense Minister, the administration dealt a series of blows against the FARC guerrilla group, including the rescue of Fernando Araújo Perdomo, the death of FARC Secretariat member Raul Reyes in a 2 March 2008 air strike against a guerrilla camp located within Ecuador's borders, and the non-violent rescue of former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt held captive since 2002, along with fourteen other hostages, including three Americans.
During his time as Defense Minister, notable controversial events included a military raid inside Ecuador's territory that killed FARC leader Raúl Reyes on 1 March 2008. There was a misuse of an International Committee of the Red Cross symbol during Operation Jaque used to safely rescue hostages from FARC.
In 2008 the 'false positives' scandal was uncovered, referring to revelations concerning extrajudicial executions carried out by members of the military in order to artificially increase the number of guerrillas killed by the Army and claim rewards from the government. On 4 November 2008, Santos admitted that the military had carried out extrajudicial executions and he pledged to resolve the issue. Twenty-seven military officers, including three generals and eleven colonels, were sacked after an internal army investigation concluded that they were responsible for administrative failures and irregularities in reporting enemy casualties and operational results. The Commander of the Colombian National Army, General Mario Montoya, resigned. By May 2009, 67 soldiers had been found guilty and over 400 were arrested pending trial.
There are different estimates for the number of civilians who may have been killed in this manner. As of May 2009, prosecutors were investigating more than 900 cases involving over 1.500 victims and 1.177 members of the Colombian security forces. According to the Coordinación Colombia-Europa-Estados Unidos NGO coalition and the Fundación para la Educación y el Desarrollo, an estimated 3.756 extrajudicial executions occurred between 1994 and 2009, of which 3.084 cases would have taken place after 2002.
Families of the victims and non-governmental organizations have held the Uribe administration and Santos, as Defense Minister, responsible for the extrajudicial killings because they consider that the government's reward policies motivated the crimes. Directive 029 of 2005 issued under Defense Minister Camilo Ospina Bernal and presidential decree 1400 of May 2006 have been questioned for offering incentives and benefits in exchange for capturing or killing members of illegal armed groups.
In June 2009, United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston declared that extrajudicial executions had been carried out in a "more or less systematic manner" by numerous Colombian military personnel and found the number of trials for those implicated to be lacking, but stated that he had found no evidence of the executions being an official government policy and acknowledged a decrease in the number of reported cases.
In March 2010, Santos publicly stated these executions had stopped since October 2008 and that this had been confirmed by the CINEP, one of Colombia's foremost human rights defense institutions. Semana, a well-respected news weekly, reported that a few days later the CINEP responded to Santos's declarations by issuing a press release which stated that, while the number of reported cases had been significantly reduced after the Defense Ministry's measures were announced, the period between November 2008 and December 2009 still saw 7 such executions and 2 arbitrary detentions.
Juan Manuel Santos announced his resignation from the Defense Ministry on 18 May 2009. Santos said that his resignation did not necessarily imply tossing his hat into the 2010 presidential race and that his participation in the electoral race depended on whether Uribe would pursue a third term, which he was willing to support. His resignation took effect on 23 May 2009. When the Constitutional Court ruled out the possibility of Uribe's participation in the upcoming elections, Santos officially launched his campaign for the presidency of the Republic of Colombia.
President of Colombia
On 20 June 2010, after two rounds of voting in the Presidential election, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón was officially elected as President of Colombia and was inaugurated on 7 August 2010 in the midst of a diplomatic crisis with Venezuela, which was quickly resolved.
Santos announced on 27 August 2012 that the Colombian government has engaged in exploratory talks with FARC in order to seek an end to the conflict. He also said that he would learn from the mistakes of previous leaders, who failed to secure a lasting ceasefire with FARC, though the military would still continue operations throughout Colombia while talks continued. According to an unnamed Colombian intelligence source, Santos would have offered FARC assurances that no one would be extradited to stand trial in another country. The move has been viewed as a cornerstone of Santos' presidency. Former President Uribe has criticized Santos for seeking peace "at any costs" in contrast to his predecessor's rejection of talks.
In October 2012, Santos received the Shalom Prize "for his commitment to seeking peace in his country and worldwide." Upon accepting the award from the Latin American chapter of the World Jewish Congress, Santos stated that “Both the people here and the people in Israel have been seeking peace for decades,” adding that Colombia is in favour of a two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Santos is a member of one of Colombia's foremost families. His great-uncle Eduardo Santos was President of Colombia from 1938 to 1942 and the owner and Director of El Tiempo, the country's leading newspaper. His father Enrique Santos Castillo spent over 50 years as editor of the newspaper. His brother Enrique Santos Calderón was director of the newspaper for ten years until it was sold to Grupo Planeta of Spain in 2007. His cousin Francisco Santos served as Vice President during Álvaro Uribe's two terms as President of the country. Juan Manuel Santos is married to Maria Clemencia "Tutina" Rodriguez. They have three children: Martín, María Antonia, and Esteban.
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- Colombia’s president awarded Shalom Prize, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), 23 October 2012.
- Colombian leader says world must recognize Israel as state of Jewish people, World Jewish Congress, 17 October 2012.
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