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Piedad Esneda Córdoba Ruiz (born January 25, 1955, in Medellínmarker, Antioquia) is a Colombianmarker lawyer politician, affiliated to the Colombian Liberal Party. She is currently serving as Senator for the period 2006-2010. She is a Colombian of African descent and represents these minorities in congress as part of the "Poder Ciudadano Siglo XXI" political movement. Senator Córdoba has been a constant supporter of legislation addressing discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and race. She is an outspoken critic who has opposed several of the controversial policies implemented by President Álvaro Uribe.

During 2007, Córdoba participated as an official government mediator in the Humanitarian exchange discussions between the Government of Colombia and the FARC guerrilla group, along with Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. After the end of the mediation in November, FARC announced that it would release the hostages Clara Rojas and Consuelo González as a result of Cordóba's and Chávez's previous work. Her efforts to find a negotiated solution to the conflict led to her being nominated as one of the contenders for the 2009 Nobel Peace Price.

Córdoba has been judicially denounced for treason under Colombian law after making controversial declarations against the Colombian government and its president during a political event in Mexicomarker in March 2007, a charge which is currently under investigation by the Supreme Court. She will be investigated for relations with the FARC, as part of the farcpolitics scandal.

Early years

Córdoba was born in Medellin, Antioquia of an Afro-Colombian father and a white mother. Her parents are Zabulón Córdoba (brother of political leader of the Department of Chocó Diego Luis Córdoba) and Lía Ruiz. She studied at the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín, graduating as a lawyer. She specialized in Labour Law at the same university, and in Public Opinion and Political Marketing at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, in Bogotá.

Political career

Córdoba began her political carrier in Medellin working as a community leader in many neighborhoods along political leader William Jaramillo. Between 1984 and 1986 Córdoba was appointed to her first public office job, working as a municipal sub-controller. In 1986, Jaramillo, widely regarded as her mentor, was elected mayor of Medellín and later appointed her as private secretary.

Councilwoman of Medellín

In 1988 Córdoba was elected as Councilwoman of Medellín for a period of two years.

Department Assembly of Antioquia

In 1990 Cordoba postulated her name as candidate for the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia but did not secure enough votes to be elected. A few months later after the congressional elections Cordoba ran for deputy of the Antioquia Department Assembly, this time getting elected.

House of Representatives 1992

After the Constituent Assembly of Colombia adopted the new Constitution of 1991, Córdoba ran for congress once again for the Chamber of Representatives for the period 1992-1994. In 1994 her political mentor William Jaramillo announced that he was not going to seek a reelection and Córdoba assumed his role. She was elected to the Senate for the 1994-1998 period receiving most of her votes from the Departments of Antioquia and Choco.

Due to her public profile Córdoba became one of the most notorious figures of the Latin American feminist movement in Colombia. She became part of a popular inter-parliamentary group that promotes government policies on sexuality. In 1995, Córdoba participated in the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, Chinamarker.

Senator of Colombia 1998

Through congress Córdoba became nationally known for taking controversial positions, such as the reactivation of the extradition law in 1997 and other positions that were seen as radical and belligerent. In 1998 Córdoba was nonetheless reelected as senator. She promoted debates focused on minorities and communitarian mothers groups, as well as the resolution of the Colombian armed conflict through peaceful negotiations.

During the investigation that then president of Colombia Ernesto Samper underwent for allegedly accepting money in his presidential campaign from the Cali drug trafficking cartel, Cordoba became an outspoken defender of the president during the scandal that was later dubbed Proceso 8000.

Kidnapping


In 1999 Carlos Castaño, leader of the paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), kidnapped Senator Córdoba. After several weeks she was freed and exiled with her family in Canadamarker. After one year and 2 months in exile and reports by Colombian authorities that security had improved, Cordoba returned to Colombia, leaving her family behind to resume her political duties. She has been the victim of two assassination attempts.

Senator of Colombia 2002

Death threats and political ban through coercion


In the elections of 2002, the regions where Córdoba had traditionally received strong voting results like Medellín, Choco and Cauca were seen as being coerced by the AUC paramilitary group. Despite this Cordoba was elected once again for congress this time also obtaining strong voting results in the capital, Bogotámarker.

Corruption debates and lost of seat in Congress


In 2003, once again in congress Córdoba was involved in a series of debates regarding corruption promoted by the minister of the Interior and Justice, Fernando Londoño Hoyos. After the debates in May of that year, with her image and profile improved, she was elected (with the highest turnout ever in that party) as President of the Liberal National Directorate (head of the Colombia liberal party).

In 2005, the Council of State of Colombia modified the electoral results of 2002 after proving there had been an electoral fraud in Valle del Cauca and Atlántico. The new results left Córdoba out of congress. She then promoted the leftist radical wing of the Colombian Liberal party in order to prevent it from moving towards the political current of President Álvaro Uribe.

Citizens power 21st century political movement


For this reason she founded the Poder Ciudadano Siglo XXI political movement as an internal dissidence of the Liberal party. In the legislative elections of 2006 Córdoba's political movement did not get a high voting turnout; however, she was elected once again to the senate.

Piedad Córdoba intervening in the 3rd National Liberal Congress, Medellín (2007)


Senator of Colombia 2006

In 2006 Córdoba became part of the Seventh Commission of Congress, which is in charge of debating labor topics. She had previously worked on the Third Commission which deals with Financial affairs, the Fifth Commission which deals with Mining and Energy and the Second Commission which debated topics related to Foreign Affairs. Córdoba was also president of the Senate's Human Rights Commission and the Peace Commission. As congresswoman she has supported projects that focused mainly on "communitary mothers", women head of households, Afro-Colombian communities, LGBT groups, groups against family violence and corruption.

Controversy in Mexico

On March 11, 2007, Córdoba assisted a symposium in Mexico Citymarker called Los Partidos Políticos y una Nueva Ciudad (Political parties and a new city) which was supported by guerrilla groups from Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), both considered terrorist organizations by the US government and the European Union. Córdoba generated controversy after declaring that "the progressive governments of Latin America should break their diplomatic relations with Colombia" and also that Álvaro Uribe was a "paramilitary".

The head of the Liberal Party, César Gaviria, rejected Córdoba's opinions. Córdoba was later judicially denounced for treason after making these declarations, a charge which is currently being investigated by Colombia's Supreme Court.

Humanitarian exchange negotiator

On August 16, 2007, President Uribe in a surprising move appointed Córdoba as mediator in the humanitarian exchange in an effort negotiate the freedom of some 50 (number at the time) hostages held by FARC and the possible release of some 500 guerrillas imprisoned by the government. Córdoba then asked the President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez to mediate also, with the support of President Uribe.

Córdoba then entered jungles of Colombia where she met with alias Raul Reyes, spokesman and leader of the FARC, to coordinate a meeting with president Chávez in Venezuela. In Venezuela, Chávez and Córdoba met with Rodrigo Granda and Ivan Marquez among other members of the guerrilla as part of the negotiations. Photos of Cordoba and the guerrillas surfaced in an online website called Agencia Bolivariana de Prensa (ABP) which showed Córdoba in an amicable and cordial relationship with the FARC, receiving flowers, kisses and hugs. This generated controversy among the government and other critics., to which she responded that the photos "were taken out of context" .

On November 22, President Uribe abruptly ended the mediation after Chávez broke with diplomatic protocol by placing a series of calls directly to the high command of the Colombian military. Uribe had conditioned Chávez against any attempt to talk to the Colombian military high command without going through appropriate diplomatic channels. Chávez initially accepted the decision but afterwards reacted by pulling his ambassador from Bogota, then proceeded to verbally attack Uribe by calling him a "pawn of the empire" and literally cut any contact with the Colombian government, including rejecting calls from the Colombian embassy in Caracas. He decided to stop diplomatic relations between the two countries and even announced his intent to sharply reduce bilateral commerce..

On December 20, 2007, Córdoba accused an unspecified "top Colombian government official", of orchestrating an assassination attempt towards her on Venezuelan soil. This accusation sparked a confrontation with Juan Manuel Santos, the Minister of Defense, who had previously been the subject of other allegations made by Córdoba. So far no proof or testimony about the alleged conspiracy is known.

Following the end of her official role as a mediator, Córdoba has accused President Álvaro Uribe, the Minister of Defense and the Colombian Armed Forces of engaging in military operations or otherwise obstructing announced hostage releases.

Alleged "farcpolitics"

On April 24, 2008 the Colombian government released files from the previously killed FARC commander Raúl Reyes, implicating Córdoba as having friendly ties with the guerrillas. As Teodora de Bolivar, the Senator is mentioned as one of the twelve people of the transitional government, set up by the FARC in the event that they are able to seize power in Colombia. The files also show she received money from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to set up several social projects in the department. The Colombian Supreme Court immediately asked for the seized files to establish if there are reasons for a criminal investigation, but the Colombian government first wanted the files to be validated by Interpolmarker. Interpol validated the authenticity of the captured FARC files. Córdoba claim the revelations are no more than a "smokescreen" to divert attention from the Colombian parapolitics scandal that is severely hurting the current Uribe Administration.Córdoba met at the Venezuelan presidential palace with FARC leaders last fall. From that meeting the rebels reported that "Piedad says that Chávez has Uribe going crazy. He doesn't know what to do. That Nancy Pelosi helps and is ready to help in the swap [hostages in exchange for captured guerrillas]. That she has designated U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern for this."

References

  1. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&sid=avBkvKQKUpOQ
  2. Élber Gutiérrez Roa, Declaraciones de Piedad Córdoba en México profundizan diferencias con el Partido Liberal, Revista Semana, March 13, 2007
  3. Asdrúbal Guerra, Partido Liberal descalifica a Piedad Córdoba por declaraciones contra Gobierno, W Radio , March 13, 2007
  4. Analitica: Colombia: Uribe nombra senadora cercana a Chávez como facilitadora ante FARC
  5. Clarín: Las FARC se reúnen en la selva con la mediadora
  6. europress.es: senadora colombiana Piedad Córdoba y delegados de las FARC
  7. Santos dice que Piedad lo acusa en voz baja, ella se declara sorprendida, http://www.eltiempo.com/tiempoimpreso/edicionimpresa/politica/2007-12-21/ARTICULO-WEB-NOTA_INTERIOR-3868897.html


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