María Emma Mejía Vélez

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María Emma Mejía Vélez
Reunión de Ministros de Defensa, Interior, Justicia y Relaciones Exteriores de UNASUR (7140272023).jpg
Secretary General Mejía during an UNASUR event in 2012.
2nd Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations
In office
Preceded by Néstor Kirchner
Succeeded by Alí Rodríguez Araque
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia
In office
July 1996 – 25 March 1998
President Ernesto Samper Pizano
Preceded by Rodrigo Pardo García-Peña
Succeeded by Camilo Reyes Rodríguez
Colombia Ambassador to Spain
In office
President César Gaviria Trujillo
Preceded by Ernesto Samper Pizano
Succeeded by Humberto de la Calle Lombana
Personal details
Born (1953-09-27) 27 September 1953 (age 61)
Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Nationality Colombian
Political party Alternative Democratic Pole
Other political
Spouse(s) Lucas Caballero Reyes (1980-1995)
Children Pedro Lucas Caballero Mejía
Residence Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
Occupation Journalist
Religion Roman Catholic
This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Mejía and the second or maternal family name is Vélez.

María Emma Mejía Vélez (born 27 September 1953) is a Colombian journalist and diplomat. She served as the 2nd Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (2011-2012), Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia (1996-1998), and Ambassador of Colombia to Spain (1993-1995).

She currently works as Executive President of Pies Descalzos Foundation, a charity founded by the Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira, and collaborates as a journalist for El Radar, a Colombian investigative television news program that airs in Caracol TV.


María Emma was born on 27 September 1953 in Medellín, Antioquia, to Luis Mejía Arango and Sofía Vélez Pérez.[1]

After graduating from the Gimnasio Los Pinares high school in Medellín, on November 1971, she worked for a short time as a fashion model.[2] She went on to study Social communication at the Pontifical Bolivarian University, from where she did not graduate, to go on sabbatical to London where she held various jobs including working for the Colombian Consulate and the BBC.[1] While at London she also studied cinematography and television which lead her to direct two films by the age of 23.[1]

On her return to Colombia Fernando Gómez Agudelo, a pioneer of the Colombian television industry, named her assistant to the writer and director Bernardo Romero Pereiro.

Work in politics[edit]


María Emma entered politics thanks to her work as a film director, when President Belisario Betancur named her Director of the Cinematographic Fomenting Company (FOCINE) making this her first public post. Her work as Director of FOCINE was seen as successful for achieving greater State support for the Film Industry of Colombia, but at the same time her success was criticized for only benefiting a few group of film producers.

Presidential Advisory Council[edit]

After her work in FOCINE she became attracted to the ideas of Luis Carlos Galán, and it was his assassination which drove her to become more politically active, this time working with the presidential electoral campaign of César Gaviria Trujillo as Secretary General of the campaign. After the election, Gaviria Trujillo named her as head of the Presidential Security Advisory Council on Medellín.

As head of this advisory council she was faced with a barrage of existing and growing problems that included the violent rule of Pablo Escobar that had transformed Medellín into a battle field of car bombs explosions, drug trade, and shanty towns.


  1. ^ a b c Sabogal R, Cesar A (18 May 1998), "María Emma Mejía", El Tiempo, retrieved 8 May 2009 
  2. ^ "María Emma Mejía". Jet-Set (in Spanish) (125). 4 July 2007. ISSN 0123-7918. Retrieved 9 May 2009.