Colombia’s former foreign affairs minister, Augusto Ramirez Ocampo, has died of heart problems at the age of 77, Colombian media reported Wednesday.
Ramirez Ocampo died at 8:40PM Tuesday evening at his family home due to complications from a heart ailment that had seen him removed from the public eye for the preceeding few months.
During his career, the Conservative politician was known to be close to former Presidents Misael Pastrana and Belario Betancur, serving as the foreign affairs minister for the latter from 1984 to 1986. Prior to his service in the Foreign Ministry, Ramirez Ocampo was the mayor of Bogota between 1982 and 1984.
Ramirez Ocampo has been hailed as a man who always sought peace and favored non-violent resolution to Colombia’s internal armed conflicts, exemplified by his advocation for peace talks and negotiations with the FARC and the ELN.
The Conservative politician played a significant part in bringing peace to the turbulent wars in Central America, particularly El Salvador in the early 1990s, while closer to home he was successful in negotiating the release of Colombian soldiers in several separate FARC hostage situations.
President Juan Manuel Santos lamented his death via Twitter, stating “We regret from our hearts the death of ex-foreign affair minister Augusto Ramirez Ocampo. He was a great Colombian for us. Our condolences to his family.”
The Conservative Party meanwhile issued a statement expressing their sadness over the “painful and unexpected departure” of a “firm defender of conservative principles, standing out for being a tireless fighter for roads that lead to peace in our country.”