Mario Laserna Pinzón

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Mario Laserna Pinzón
Colombia Ambassador to Austria
In office
President Virgilio Barco Vargas
Succeeded by Alfonso Gómez Méndez
9th Colombia Ambassador to France
In office
President Alfonso López Michelsen (1976-1978)
Julio César Turbay (1978-1979)
Personal details
Born (1923-08-21)August 21, 1923
Paris, Île-de-France, France
Died July 16, 2013(2013-07-16) (aged 89)
Ibague, Colombia
Nationality Colombian
Political party Conservative
Other political
M-19 Democratic Alliance
Spouse(s) Liliana Jaramillo Jaramillo
Residence La Candelaria
Alma mater Columbia University (BA)
Princeton University (MA)
Free University of Berlin (DA)
Occupation Professor, Rector, Politician, Diplomat, Writer and Journalist
Profession Mathematician, Philosopher
Religion Roman Catholic
Awards Order of Boyacá, Rank of the Grand Cross

Mario Laserna Pinzón (August 21, 1923 – July 16, 2013) was a Colombian educator and politician born in Paris of Colombian parents. Laserna Pinzón is credited for being the founder of the Los Andes University in Bogotá, which was incorporated in 1948 and is a private institution modeled on the United States liberal arts educational system. He also served as Senator of Colombia, and Ambassador to France and Austria and is an author of several books.



He was born in Paris, France on August 21, 1923 to Colombian parents, Francisco Laserna and Helena Pinzón, and was raised first in Colombia where he attended the Instituto La Salle and then from 1931 to 1932 in Queens in NYC. He graduated from the Gimnasio Moderno in 1940 and went on to study Law for three years at Our Lady of the Rosary University to later change his career and move to the United States to attend Columbia University where he completed his undergraduate studies in Mathematics, Physics, and Humanities in 1948. He would go on to obtain a Master's degree at Princeton University and to study German and philosophy at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and he later obtained a Doctorate at the Free University of Berlin. For his life's work he was awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa by Brandeis University.[1]

Mario Laserna Pinzón is widely admired in his country as an educator, a politician, and a passionate seeker of knowledge, with numerous books and studies to his credit. During the late 1940s and 1950s he became acquainted with many important scientific figures of the day, including Albert Einstein, whom he met while studying at Princeton, and Nicolás Gómez Dávila, his mentor.[2][3]

In 1948, upon graduating from Columbia, he returned to Colombia and dedicated himself to the creation of a private secular institution of higher learning in Bogotá. His dream became a reality on November 16, 1948 when Los Andes University was founded, institution of which he became rector between 1953 to 1954.[4] He also served as rector of the National University of Colombia[5] (1958–1960).


Given his high profile Laserna was absorbed into politics by those who wanted to present the world with one of the best examples of Colombian intellect, and so he served as the Colombian Ambassador to his native France (1976–1979) and to Austria (1987–1990), served in the Senate of Colombia[2] and served as councillor of Bogotá.[3]

He worked in politics as a philosopher interested in learning the workings of government and people which led him to run as Senator representing the radical liberal party of the M-19 Democratic Alliance, even though he himself belonged to the Colombian Conservative Party,[6] he said he joined the M-19 in spite of being a conservative because he "wanted to know how the people who had been [hiding] in the mountain and had returned to civil life thought. Also because they had Bolivarian roots",[3] as he himself was a believer of Bolivarianism.

As a Senator he had to answer to accusations of working with the fugitive Roberto Soto Prieto who had allegedly stolen $13.5 million US dollars and with whom Laserna had connections in Austria through his work as Ambassador, at which time Soto Prieto was an alleged refugee in that country, and through alleged business deals in which Soto was found to be indirectly involved.[7] At the request of the Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs Noemí Sanín the last five ambassadors to Austria and all employees of the embassy were investigated by the Inspector General of Colombia and the Attorney General of Colombia, among those was Mario Laserna Pinzón.[8] Laserna was later cleared of all charges in respect to the case.

Because of his life's work and contribution to the country, President Álvaro Uribe Vélez honored him with the Order of Boyacá in the Rank of the Grand Cross, the highest civilian honour bestowed by the Republic of Colombia.[9]


Mario Laserna was a very prolific reader and writer, which led him to write for various newspapers and to become the director of Revista Semana[10] and the newspaper La República.[9] He also authored various books and essays on Colombian history and government, development in the Third World, and philosophy.

  • Misión y problema de la universidad. Bogotá: Universidad de los Andes, 1955. (Co-authored along with Alberto Lleras Camargo) [1]
  • Estado fuerte o caudillo: el dilema colombiano. Bogotá: Ediciones Mito, 1961 [2]
  • Klassenlogik und formale Einteilung der Wissenschaft. Berlin: Druck: E. Reuter-Gesellschaft, 1963. (Dissertation) [3]
  • Rousseau y la antinomia de la libertad de Loewenthal. Bogotá: 1965. [4]
  • Estado, consenso, democracia y desarrollo. Bogotá: Ediciones Tercer Mundo, 1966. [5]
  • La revolución, ¿para qué? : y otros ensayos. Bogotá: Ed. Revista Colombiana, 1966. [6]
  • Individuo y sociedad. Bogotá:, Editorial Revista Colombiana. 1969.[7]
  • Sociedad post-industrial y países sub-desarrollados. Bogotá: Universidad de los Andes, Programa Alta Gerencia, 1970's. [8]
  • Informe sobre las UPAC y sus incidencias sociales y económicas. Bogotá: Tall. Ed. de la Impr. Nacional de Colombia, 1974. ISBN 958-601-074-0 [9]
  • Bolívar, un euro-americano frente a la Ilustración : y otros ensayos de interpretación de la historia indo-iberoamericana. Bogotá: Ediciones Tercer Mundo, 1986. ISBN 958-601-074-0 [10]
  • Dos ensayos sobre la posibilidad de la historia: Carta de Heidelberg. Bogotá: Ediciones Uniandes, 1999. ISBN 958-695-030-1 [11]
  • Reflexiones sobre la Revolución Científica del siglo XVII. Bogotá: Universidad de los Andes, 2003. ISBN 958-695-102-2 [12]
  • La Crítica de la Razón Pura, Metalenguaje de la Ciencia. Bogotá: Universidad de los Andes, 2004. ISBN 958-695-136-7 [13]


  1. ^ "Fundador distinguido" (in Spanish). Los Andes University. Retrieved 2005-05-19. 
  2. ^ a b "Mario Laserna Le Gana Recuerdos Al Alzheimer". El Tiempo (in Spanish) (Bogotá). Nación. 2007-11-27. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  3. ^ a b c Ortiz, María Paulina (1993-06-25). "El Soñador De Los Andes". El Tiempo. Nación. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  4. ^ "Rectores". Los Andes University. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  5. ^ Correa, Marina (2005). "Historia" (in Spanish). National University of Colombia. Retrieved 2009-05-19. [dead link]
  6. ^ Cepeda Sarabia, Efraín (2007-10-02). Palabras del Presidente del Partido Conservador Colombiano, Senador Efraín Cepeda Sarabia, en el acto de celebración de los 158 años del Partido Conservador. (DOC) (Speech). Bogotá, D.C. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  7. ^ "Cargos Contra Laserna Por Nexos Con Soto". El Tiempo. Justicia. 1993-09-30. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  8. ^ "Investigarán A 5 Ex Embajadores". El Tiempo. Información general. 1993-06-25. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  9. ^ a b Uribe Vélez, Álvaro (2003-09-10). Palabras del Señor Presidente de la República Doctor Álvaro Uribe Vélez, con ocasión de la imposición de la condecoración de la Orden de Boyacá en el Grado de Gran Cruz, al Doctor Mario Laserna Pinzón (Speech). Bogotá, D.C. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  10. ^ Rodríguez Maldonado, Tatiana (November 2005). "Reseñas de las revistas Semana y Cambio". Imagen Y Discurso: Construcción de sentido en las portadas de las revistas Semana y Cambio 1998-2004 (in Spanish). Bogotá. Retrieved 2009-05-20.