The 2016 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for “his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end, a war that has cost the lives of at least 220 000 Colombians and displaced close to six million people.”
By awarding this year’s Peace Prize to President Juan Manuel Santos, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said it wishes to encourage all those who are striving to achieve peace, reconciliation and justice in Colombia.
President Santos has made it clear that he will continue to work for peace right up until his very last day in office. The Committee hopes that the Peace Prize will give him strength to succeed in this demanding task.
The peace prize committee says that the result of the referendum, which was to reject the peace accord negotiated by President Santos and the leader of the Farc rebels, Timochenko, could lead to a flare-up of conflict and civil war in the country and the committee strongly encourages Santos and Timochenko to respect the accord and “take their share of responsibility and participate constructively in the upcoming peace talks.”
Juan Manuel Santos Calderón was born on 10 August 1951. He is the 32nd and current President of Colombia, in office since 2010. He was Minister of Defense from 2006 to 2009. An economist by profession and a journalist by trade, Santos is a member of the wealthy and influential Santos family, who from 1913 to 2007 were the majority shareholders of the newspaper El Tiempo, until its sale to Planeta DeAgostini in 2007. Shortly after graduating from the University of Kansas, he joined the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia as an economic advisor and delegate to the International Coffee Organization in London, where he also attended the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 1981, he was appointed deputy director of El Tiempo, becoming its director two years later.
In 1991, Santos was appointed by President César Gaviria Trujillo as Colombia’s first Minister of Foreign Trade. In 2000, he was appointed by President Andrés Pastrana Arango as the 64th Minister of Finance and Public Credit.
Santos rose to prominence during the Administration of President Álvaro Uribe Vélez. In 2005, he co-founded and led the Social Party of National Unity (Party of the U), a liberal-conservative party coalition that backed the policies of President Uribe, successfully supporting his attempt to seek a Constitutional reform to be able to run for a second term.
In 2006, after Uribe was re-elected, and the Party of the U won a majority of seats in both chambers of Congress, Santos was appointed Minister of National Defence, and continued defending the security policies of President Uribe, taking a strong and forceful stance against FARC and the other guerrilla groups operating in Colombia.