Belisario Betancur

Former president of Colombia and arbiter of peace in Latin America

The Americas

Belisario Betancur is the former president of Colombia. During his presidency, he began the Grupo de Contadora por la Paz, a multilateral agreement to promote peace in Latin America. Betancur was elected president of Colombia in 1982. He was the first president of Colombia to initiate peace talks with illegal armed guerrilla groups that had challenged rule of law in the country for almost 20 years. All peace talks that the government of Colombia has since held with guerrilla groups were modeled after Betancur’s example. He pushed for democratic reforms to reintegrate armed troops into civilian life, promoted low-cost housing and open universities, and began a national literacy campaign. Betancur, who was also the chairman of the Truth Commission for El Salvador, has been internationally praised for his efforts to forge peace in Colombia, El Salvador, and Guatemala. In 2017, Betancur turned 94 and in a radio interview at the time of his birthday celebration he said, “… his great dream was peace and although he failed to fulfill it, today President Juan Manuel Santos is doing it with the support of all Colombians …” (Caracol radio, 2017)

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