|ANDRES PASTRANA ARANGO|
Andrés Pastrana Arango became Colombia's 37th president in August 1998 and the first Conservative party candidate to win since 1982.
Pastrana's most popular campaign issues included his pledges to eliminate political "narco-corruption" from the government and to pursue peace talks with the country's guerrilla forces.
One of Pastrana's first moves was to create a semi-autonomous demilitarized zone for the FARC roughly the size of Switzerland as an incentive to jump start peace talks.
The new president also gained international support for his "Plan Colombia," a $7.5 billion multi-faceted counter-narcotics program.
Pastrana's popularity, however, waned halfway into his four-year term. His efforts to reach a cease-fire with guerrillas failed to produce tangible results and Colombians became increasingly impatient with the stymied peace process. In addition, his free-market economic reforms did not reduce the country's high inflation and unemployment rates.
Andrés Pastrana grew up in Bogota among Colombian wealthy elites, or "notables", as the son of former president and Conservative Party leader Misael Pastrana Borrero (1970-1974).
After working as a television journalist, Pastrana went on to become Bogota's mayor and a top Conservative senator. After losing the 1994 presidential election to the Liberal Party's Ernesto Samper, Pastrana released evidence that Samper's campaign officials had solicited contributions from the Cali drug cartel. The ensuing scandal not only improved Pastrana's image as a government reformer, but also crippled the Liberal Party for the next presidential election.
In the 2002 voter polls, Pastrana's Conservative Party has not fared well due to the poor results of his original campaign agenda.
Pastrana, who was constitutionally barred from running for a second term, handed over the presidency to Alvaro Uribe on August 7th. Pastrana now heads to Spain for a temporary vacation, during which he plans to teach college and travel to Asia.
-- By Liz Harper, Online NewsHour