The Socialist International was deeply saddened to learn of the passing, on 31 October, of Horacio Serpa, former leader of the Liberal Party of Colombia, a member party of the SI, who was a minister, governor, parliamentarian and ambassador, among many other prominent responsibilities, and Vice-President of the SI from 2005-2008, and later Honorary President of the SI since 2017.
Horacio Serpa had a career rich in the political life of his country, and was widely respected throughout Colombia, the Latin American region and beyond. After graduating in law he started out as a judge, and later became a criminal investigator, circuit penal judge and superior judge before moving into politics.
Entering politics, he was first appointed Mayor of Barrancabermeja in 1970, and later became Secretary of Education for the Santander Department, which he later represented in the National Chamber of Representatives.
During the 1970s he co-founded the Frente de Izquierda Liberal Auténtico, FILA (Authentic Liberal Leftist Front), and in 1978 he gained a Liberal seat as a representative in Congress. He was elected to the Senate in 1985 and went on to serve as Minister of Government, Inspector General of Colombia and, in 1991, was elected co-president of the Constituent Assembly of Colombia which was tasked with drawing up the Colombian Constitution of 1991.
Horacio Serpa went on to become Minister of Interior in 1994, Presidential Peace advisor and Ministry Delegate in Presidential Functions, and was a presidential candidate of the Liberal Party in the elections of 1998, 2002 and 2006. He was Ambassador to the Organization of American States between 2003 and 2004; Governor of Santander between 2008 and 2012; and Senator of the Republic between 2014 and 2018.
Serpa actively supported unions, worked to overcome poverty and contributed to peace in the face of internal conflicts in Colombia. In the Socialist International, Horacio Serpa played an active part, especially in the SI Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, for which the Liberal Party hosted several meetings, and from 2005 until 2008 he served as one of the Vice-Presidents of the organisation. He often participated in SI Council meetings in different continents and was actively engaged in the holding of the XXV SI Congress, in the city of Cartagena in 2017, where he was elected an Honorary President of the Socialist International.
The International extends its deepest sympathies to Horacio Serpa’s family, and to all the members of the Liberal Party of Colombia. He will be long remembered for his service to his country, for his wide and lasting contributions in Latin America and for standing throughout his life for the values and principles we all share in our global political family.
Horacio Serpa speaking at the XXV SI Congress in Cartagena, 2017