The son of Lithuanian immigrants. He left office as the president of the National University of Colombia in Bogotá in 1993, and later that year ran a successful campaign for mayor. He proceeded to preside over Bogotá as mayor for two (non-consecutive) terms, during which he became known for springing surprising and humorous initiatives upon the city's inhabitants. These tended to involve grand gestures, including local artists or personal appearances by the mayor himself—taking a shower in a commercial about conserving water, or walking the streets dressed in spandex and a cape as Supercitizen. On 4 March 2010, he was elected in a public consultation as the Colombian Green Party candidate for the presidential election in 2010.