Álvaro Uribe holds a degree in law from the Universidad de Antioquia and a post-graduate degree in Management and Administration from Harvard University. From 1998 to 1999 after being awarded the Simon Bolivar fellowship by the British Council in Bogotá, he worked as an associate professor at Oxford University.
Uribe went into public service at a very young age. In 1976, he became head of the Real Estate Office of the Public Works Department of Medellín.
From 1977 to 1978, he was Secretary General of the Labor Ministry and from 1980 to 1982, head of the Civil Aviation Department. He was the mayor of Medellín in 1982 and later, from 1984 to 1986, he was elected city councilman.
Uribe was elected governor of the department of Antioquia for the 1995-1997 period, during which he created schooling opportunities for 103,000 new students. As governor he also devised a program by which 40,000 people received training in the peaceful negotiation of conflict. In addition, 200,000 of Antioquia's poor became eligible for free health care under the national subsidized health insurance System.
He was elected Senator for the periods 1986-1990 and 1990-1994, terms during which he received the Star Senator, Senator with the Best Programs and Best Senator awards.
He was elected President for the period of 2002-2006, with the conviction that Colombia needs to be governed with moral authority and a strong sense of leadership. In 2006, he was re-elected with an overwhelming majority. During his eight years in office, he was responsible for the transformation of Colombia from a country with limited territorial control, escalating violence and considered by many to be a “failed state” into one of the most thriving, dynamic countries in the hemisphere.
Polls consistently showed an unprecedented support for Uribe by many Colombians, estimated at around 70% after his second year in office. Uribe was re-elected on May 28, 2006 for a second presidential term (2006–2010), and became the first president to be consecutively re-elected in Colombia in over a century. He received about 62% of the vote, consisting of about 7.3 million ballots in his favor.
During early 2008, Uribe's approval rating hit an impressive 81%, one of the highest popularity levels of his entire presidency. In June 2008, after Operation Jaque, Uribe's approval rate rose to an unprecedented 91%.
Indeed, one of the most remarkable achievements of Uribe is security. From 2002 to the first half of 2010, homicides per year went dropped 70%, kidnappings dramatically reduced by 84%.
The economy under Uribe performed consistently. Gross Domestic Product growth went from 1.8% in 2002 to 4.4% to the first semester of 2010 considering an important 0.8% in the global recession of 2009. In the same period of time, the Consumer Price Index gradually improved from 6.99% to 2.25% and the exports rate went from -2.9% to 26.6%. In terms of social reactivation, poverty decreased from 53.7% in 2002 to 45.5% in 2009 and displaced people went from 454.346 to 44.633.
Uribe ended his duties as President of Colombia with 75% popularity. In August 2010, he was appointed Vice-chairman of the UN panel investigating the Gaza flotilla raid.
In his memoir, No Lost Causes, (October, 2012) Uribe details an epic, heart-racing account of how bravery and hope gave a failing nation a brighter future and how bold, imaginative leadership can solve even the most intractable problems—and why there is no such thing as a lost cause.