Ivan Duque

Ivan Duque (Image: President's Office)

Ivan Duque is Colombia’s president, a former protege of his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos and a close ally of former President Alvaro Uribe.

Santos’ silver spoon

Born the son of a former governor, mining minister and Liberal Party mogul, Duque was groomed for a career in politics since he was young.

Before finishing his law study at the elite Sergio Arboleda university in Bogota, Duque became Santos’ assistant when the latter was the finance minister of former President Andres Pastrana.

When Pastrana was succeeded by Uribe in 2002, Santos sent Duque to Washington DC where he became the chief of the culture department of the Inter-American Development Bank after fellow-Colombian Luis Aberto Moreno was elected director.

While working at the IDB, Duque studied law at Georgetown and public policy at the American University. The president has claimed he also obtained a masters degree at Harvard, but was forced to retract this after the university denied this.

From Santos to Uribe

In 2011, Duque began working closely with Uribe as the assistant of a UN panel investigating an Israeli attack on activists bringing supplies to the West Bank.

When Uribe took part in congressional elections with his newly-founded Democratic Center party, Duque was elected senator in 2014.

The politician almost immediately became one of the moderate voices in the “Uribista” party that had attracted politicians ranging from moderate conservatives to far-right radicals.

In Congress, Duque was extremely vocal regarding economic issues, being one of the main critics of the National Development Plan of Santos’ second four-year term.

Nevertheless, Duque did not become a well-known figure until after he resigned from the senate in 2017 and was handpicked by Uribe to lead the party’s efforts to regain control over the country’s most important office.

In an attempt to gather the support of dissident Conservative Party politicians, Duque agreed to let Marta Lucia Ramirez be his running mate for a coalition of political forces that had opposed attempts to make peace with the FARC since 2012.

Despite his lack of executive experience. the scandal over Duque’s attempts to falsify his academic career and amid serious election fraud allegations, he won both the first and the second round of the 2018 presidential elections.

Duque was formally inaugurated as president on August 7, 2018 and vowed to base his policy on “legality, entrepreneurship and equity.”

Rough start

Unlike his predecessors, Colombia’s latest president has refused to share power with politicians from parties other than his own and appointed experienced executives, other dynasty politicians and personal friends of Uribe to run the country until 2022.

His closeness and almost absolute loyalty to Uribe quickly earned him derogatory nicknames as “puppet president” or “sub-president.”

Because of his initial refusal to share power with other political forces in Congress and a number of highly unpopular tax proposals his approval rating plummeted almost immediately after taking office.

Duque’s approval rating


At the end of his first year in office, Duque had been able to push no more than six government proposals through congress, the least of all his predecessors in the 21st century.

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