Samper Pizano, Ernesto

Samper Pizano, Ernesto ĕrnĕsˈtō sämpĕrˈ pēzäˈnō [key], 1950–, Colombian politician, president of Colombia (1994–98), b. Bogotá. An economist, lawyer, former professor, and member of the Liberal party, he became president of the Financial Institutions Association in 1975 and was elected to the senate in 1986. In 1989 he was severely wounded by drug traffickers in an assassination attempt. Subsequently, he served as development minister (1990–91) and ambassador to Spain (1991–93). Returning to Colombia, he was elected president by a slim margin in 1994. Shortly after his election, there were widespread accusations that his campaign had accepted money from the Cali cocaine “cartel.” Samper denied the charges, but they resurfaced in 1995 and precipitated a political crisis. He was cleared of all charges in June, 1996, by the Colombian congress, but the U.S. government revoked his entry visa. When President Uribe proposed (2006) Samper for ambassador to France it provoked a firestorm of criticism in Colombia, and Samper declined the post. From 2014 to 2017 he was secretary general of the Union of South American Nations.

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