Colombia’s Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez is one of the country’s most powerful conservative voices and an icon of the empowerment of women.
The Bogota-born politician has been active in her country’s politics since the early 1990s. In 2002, Ramirez became just the second woman in Latin American history to ever be appointed Minister of Defense.
A lawyer by trade, Ramirez has an extensive private and public sector background and a history of climbing professional ladders. Her career began in 1975 at the legal office of Banking Superintendence.
Three years later, she became the director of Central Bank Control.
She got her start in politics in 1991 when she was named Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade, a position she held for two years.
In 1993, Ramirez returned to the private sector to become CEO of her own company, Marta Lucia Ramirez de Rincon and Associates. From 1997-1998 she was the Executive President of Colombia Gas Investment SA Invercolsa.
In 2006, Ramirez assumed her first elected office after securing the fourth highest vote as a Senate candidate for the powerful Social National Unity Party largely due to her Bogota roots where she received nearly half of her total votes. Yet three years later, Ramirez’s election was annulled due to violations of Colombian electoral law. Ramirez was working for the State six months prior to the election, which is not allowed.
However, by then the politician had already given up her seat to prepare for the 2010 presidential elections.
Unlike Cambio Radical leader German Vargas, Ramirez did not lose the loyalty of her former boss and became one of the most noted allies of the Democratic Center (Centro Democratico – CD), a political movement formed by Uribe-loyalists in 2012. The CD aims to restore the political powerbase of the former President who increasingly grew isolated over corruption scandals and his strained relations with his successor Juan Manuel Santos.
Following her loss in the 2014 elections Ramirez joined a vocal political minority in opposing a peace deal with the FARC.
While running for president on the Conservative Party ticket in the 2014 elections, Ramirez did not reject the peace talks but kept a critical stance on concessions made to the FARC.
After the elections, Uribe’s former defense minister increased her opposition to the partial deals presented during the negotiations while maintaining contact with the political sectors that support a peace deal.
Ramirez even took part in a presidential peace commission, but resigned soon after claiming the commission was a sham. The public has since also not heard from the commission that is supposed to advise the president on post-conflict matters.
While to a lesser extent being implicated in human rights violations committed by the military while she was minister, Ramirez’ opposition has mainly appeared to have been for ideological reasons like justice that are widely shared by the general public.
She remained opposed to the peace deal all the way up until its signing in September 2016 and teamed up with her former employer to successfully promote a rejection of the deal in a referendum.
Since then, she left the Conservative Party to cherish her affiliation with Uribe and the powerful group of conservative politicians around him.
After losing to Ivan Duque in a primary in March 2018, Martinez’ became the junior candidate’s running-mate, adding years of experience to the executive team.
Martinez will take office on August 7, 2018.