Germán Vargas Lleras

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Germán Vargas Lleras
Germán Vargas Lleras in 2004.
Vice President of Colombia
Assumed office
7 August 2014
President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón
Preceded by Angelino Garzón
2nd Minister of Housing, City and Territory of Colombia
In office
17 May 2012 (2012-05-17) – 5 June 2013 (2013-06-05)
President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón
Preceded by Beatriz Elena Uribe Botero
Succeeded by Luis Felipe Henao Cardona
9th Minister of the Interior of Colombia
In office
11 August 2011 (2011-08-11) – 17 May 2012 (2012-05-17)
President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón
Preceded by Fernando Londoño Hoyos
Succeeded by Federico Renjifo Vélez
5th Minister of the Interior and Justice of Colombia
In office
7 August 2010 (2010-08-07) – 11 August 2011 (2011-08-11)
President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón
Preceded by Fabio Valencia Cossio
Succeeded by *Office abolished
Senator of Colombia
In office
20 July 1994 (1994-07-20) – 3 August 2008 (2008-08-03)
Personal details
Born February 19, 1962 (age 52)
Bogotá, Colombia
Nationality Colombian
Political party Radical Change
Other political
Liberal Party (1994-2002)
Colombia Always (2002-2006)
Relations Carlos Lleras Restrepo (grandfather)
Children Clemencia Vargas Umaña
Alma mater Our Lady of the Rosary University
Complutense University of Madrid
José Ortega y Gasset Foundation
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic
Signature Germán Vargas Lleras's Signature
This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Vargas and the second or maternal family name is Lleras.

Germán Vargas Lleras (born February 19, 1962) is a Colombian lawyer and politician and is currently the Vice President of Colombia. He served in the Administration of President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón from 2010 to 2013 as the 2nd Minister of Housing, City and Territory, as the 9th Minister of the Interior, and as the 5th Minister of the Interior and Justice. From 1994 to 2008, he served as Senator of Colombia having been elected for four consecutive terms. He was named running mate of current President Juan Manuel Santos for the presidential election of 2014 in February 24 and elected Vice President in June 15.


Germán was born on 19 February 1962 in Bogotá to Germán Vargas Espinosa and Clemencia Lleras de la Fuente. Vargas Lleras graduated from Our Lady of the Rosary University where he received his Bachelor of Laws, and went to Spain to get his Ph.D in Government and Political Science at the Ortega and Gasset Institute of the Complutense University of Madrid. He comes from one of the country's most prominent political families as he is a grandson of former President Carlos Lleras Restrepo, and nephew of the former presidential candidate Carlos Lleras de la Fuente.

Political career[edit]

Germán Vargas Lleras began his political career while in college at 19 years of age in a successful campaign that got him elected as councilman of Boyacá, Cundinamarca in 1981 under the flags of the New Liberalism, a dissident political movement founded by the then young Senator Luis Carlos Galán. Right after the election, Galan appointed him political coordinator for the district of Los Mártires in the capital city of Bogotá. The experience he acquired during his tenure led him to run for city councilman of Bogotá in 1988. After the assassination of his political mentor in 1989, the New Liberalism began to crumble, and Vargas Lleras, who was then Private Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, joined the ranks of the Colombian Liberal Party.

Once he had joined the party he retook his tasks in the capital district of Los Mártires and assembled a team that helped him get elected for two consecutive terms as City Councilman (1990–1994). He then ran successfully for the Colombian Senate in 1994 under the auspices of the Liberal Party.

In 1999 Vargas Lleras became the visible head of the opposition in the Senate to the government of president Andrés Pastrana, mainly due to the ill-fated 1999–2002 FARC–Government peace process. His staunch opposition to ongoing peace talks in midst of those circumstances, brought him nearer to Álvaro Uribe Vélez, a dissident liberal candidate for the presidential election of 2002 who was calling for the end of the Demilitarized Zone of San Vicente del Caguán.Vargas Lleras moved to support Uribe's candidacy, a decision that forced him to go against the Liberal party and its official candidate for the presidency Horacio Serpa.

In 2002 he ran for his third term of office in the Senate on the ticket of the political movement Colombia Always, a dissident of the Liberal Party, founded by Juan Lozano. He not only got re-elected but thanks to the high number of votes received, carried another candidate in the same ticket to get elected along him, with the third highest ballot count in the country. Five months into his third term, Senator Vargas Lleras was the victim of a terrorist attack, a bomb hidden in a book wrapped in gift paper. As a result of the attack, Vargas Lleras lost some fingers in his left hand. Still recovering from his wounds, Vargas Lleras returned to the Senate's floor in 2003, consolidating himself as one of the leaders of President Uribe's Senate coalition. In 2003, Vargas Lleras was elected Senate President. [1]

In July 2005, the national news magazine Semana published a report stating that the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia pointed a man called Joaquín Vergara Mojica, an ex guerilla member of the ELN terrorist organization as the one behind the bomb-attack against Senator Vargas Lleras. The report stated that the accused – along with two other "reinsertados" (deserters who had been pardoned) from the terrorist organization FARC, staged a plan to send explosive devices to high profile individuals – Senator Vargas Lleras among them, to then seek rewards from the CIA by tipping them of the terrorist attacks before the devices exploded. According to Vergara's version, the bomb inside the book aimed for Senator Vargas Lleras exploded before the law enforcers made it to his office.

In October 2003, Juan Lozano was defeated into his run for mayor of Bogotá under the Colombia Always party. Senator Vargas Lleras then decided to join the Radical Change party, he rose among its ranks and in 2004 became its Chairman and Director.

In the second half of 2005 a group of Uribists led by Juan Manuel Santos founded the Party of the U, and publicly invited Senator Vargas Lleras to merge both parties looking to ensure the majorities in the following elections. The Senator declined the invitation arguing that both parties represented different political sectors. Soon after the elections, the infiltration of the Party of the U by extreme right paramilitary organizations became public, triggering a storm of indignation among many Colombians.

Senator Vargas Lleras suffered another terrorist attack, this time with a car-bomb. Vargas Lleras escaped the attack unharmed but a few of his bodyguards were seriously injured. The attack led to a confrontation between the Senator and President Uribe when the latter accused the FARC terrorist organization for the attack, disregarding leads attained by the Senator, pointing towards a possible alliance of politicians and the paramilitary organizations. The Colombian Attorney General's Office has not concluded that investigation, to date.

The 2006 elections consolidated Radical Change as a major political party by getting 15 Senators and 22 Congressmen elected. Senator Vargas Lleras achieved the highest number of ballots for the Senate (223.330) with a 50% advantage margin over the second runner up. Beginning 2008 Vargas Lleras went on a temporary leave of absence from the Senate to pursue studies in Europe. He was replaced by Rodrigo Lara Restrepo. However, on June of the same year he resigned his senate seat in a move to try to save the political reform law, in face of the crisis triggered by the fact that Lara Restrepo could not vote it for risk of being accused of legal bias. He was then replaced by Elsa Gladys Cifuentes, but regardless of this bold move by Vargas Lleras, the law did not pass in the Senate.

2010 Presidential elections[edit]

Vargas Lleras launched his presidential bid on June 25, 2009. During the event, he stated that he would stay on the race regardless of whether incumbent President Uribe would run for a third term. The messaging of the former Senator has always been very clear on intending to continue with the policies of Uribe's Administration, but without Uribe.

After a long campaign trail where he visited 30 of the 32 Departments of Colombia Vargas Lleras gradually launched his government plan, calling for a number of politically important reforms. Regardless of the offers of alliances made by a number of political parties, Vargas Lleras decided to wait for the political landscape to become clear, he became emphatic on stating that only at the right time and under the right conditions, he would be willing to participate in a coalition government.

The election was won by Uribe's chosen successor, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón. Vargas won 10% of the vote, and later became a minister in Santos' coalition in August 2010.[2]


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