It was a delicate political, social, and military scenario for Colombia in the 1990s. The country was constantly in a state of anxiety due to drug trafficking and paramilitarism. In response, César Gaviria (March 31, 1947) proposed a plan to dismantle, at least partially, the main guerrilla groups and drug traffickers in the country during his presidency. We invite you to read the biography of César Gaviria if you are interested in learning more about Colombian politics.

Summary of César Gaviria’s biography

The index

  • Politics, coffee, and coffee

  • Political terrain is flattening

  • César Gaviria’s rise to the presidency

  • A challenging landscape

Politics and coffee

In the Risaralda department of Colombia, César Gaviria Trujillo was born on March 31, 1947, in the municipality of Pereira. His parents were Mélida Trujillo Trujillo and Byron Gaviria Londoño, who worked in the coffee trade in Pereira. The economic benefits of his childhood were undeniable. When he was young, he attended the Universidad de los Andes, where he graduated as an economist after attending the best private schools in Pereira.

In his 23rd year, César Gaviria became a councilor for the Pereira municipality. Previously, Gaviria worked in the journalistic world as director of the newspaper La Tarde, like colleagues like Andrés Pastrana. With this position, Gaviria sought to give him a clear picture of Pereira’s economic and political issues.

In 1974, César Gaviria became a member of the Colombian House of Representatives, representing the Risaralda department. A liberal and modern political approach was demonstrated by Gaviria from an early age. In 1974, he became mayor of Pereira, a result of his undeniable maturity and commitment.

Politics flattening

With time, César Gaviria’s political ambitions ceased to be clearly municipal. By 1978, Gaviria had become vice minister of economic development in Julio César Turbay Ayala’s cabinet. During the presidency of Virgilio Blanco in 1986, Gaviria gradually rose to the position of finance minister.

César Gaviria revolutionized national politics by proposing two important reforms for the country: agrarian reform and tax reform. They both sought to restore some economic stability to a country that was in constant upheaval due to a drug trafficking and paramilitary crisis. As a result of these reforms, Gaviria gained the trust of the country’s citizens and was able to win the presidency.

César Gaviria’s rise to the presidency

The country was preparing for a new electoral process in 1989. Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento, a notable Colombian politician at the time, ran for the liberal party, promising a bright future for the country. During a meeting in the department of Cundinamarca, however, he was killed.

Due to this disastrous scenario, César Gaviria, Galán’s right-hand man throughout his campaign, replaced him and was left representing the New Liberalism party, of which Galán was a member. As a result, Gaviria had to run for president. In spite of tensions in the country, the Colombian won.


Gaviria’s triumph will forever be remembered in Colombian politics. His undisputed electoral success was due in large part to the public’s anguish following the assassination of Luis Carlos Galán. César Gaviria was viewed by many in those days as the man who would save Colombia from incessant violence.

Having to deal with a challenging environment

In spite of the country context, César Gaviria did not let his political ambitions be overshadowed. The first National Constituent Assembly was created by Gaviria in 1990. A new national constitution was drafted as part of this project. 

A new constitution marked an important step for the country. The judicial system of the country was notably flawed by drug scandals, an area where César Gaviria settled. As well as promoting Colombia’s economic relations, Gaviria also worked to strengthen its relations with other countries. Consequently, inflation in the country was reduced.

During his presidency, César Gaviria also fought narcoterrorism and paramilitary groups closely. US intelligence forces, along with Colombian ones, assassinated Pablo Escobar during the Gaviria government, becoming one of Gaviria’s main enemies.

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