Ramos was born in the municipality and town of Sonsón in the Department of Antioquia on April 19, 1948. Ramos studied law at the Universidad de Medellín and specialized in International Business from Harvard University in the United States.
In 1972 Ramos is appointed head of the Conservative party post that he held for four years until 1976, he was also elected deputy of the Department Assembly of Antioquia for the period of 1974 and 1976. In 1976 was appointed General Controller of Antioquia serving until 1978 when he was appointed Secretary of Finance of the City of Medellín until 1980.
Between 1982 and 1990 served as congressman in the Chamber of Representatives of Colombia. In 1990 and 1991 was Senator of Colombia but with the dissolution of Congress by President César Gaviria and the introduction of a Constituent Assembly for a new Constitution Ramos decided not to run again.
In 1992 Ramos was elected Mayor of Medellín for the period of 1992-1994. Ramos is dubbed the best Mayor in Colombia.
In 1996 during the Presidency of Ernesto Samper, Ramos was appointed Minister of Foreign Trade, but due to the Proceso 8000 scandal in which it was made public that drug money belonging to the Cali Cartel financed the presidential campaign of Ernesto Samper, the Conservative party cut all ties with the Liberal administration of Samper and Ramos renounced.
After renouncing to his post as minister in the Samper administration, Ramos joined the presidential campaign of Conservative Andrés Pastrana for the presidential elections of 1998. Pastrana was elected president and Ramos was appointed Ambassador of Colombia to the Organization of American States (OAS) until 2001.
In 2001 Ramos returned to Colombia and postulated himself as candidate for the Senate of Colombia in representation of the Team Colombia political movement. He was elected in the legislative elections of 2002 with more than 230,000 votes. In his inauguration as senator on July 20, 2002 Ramos was elected also President of the Congress of Colombia and the senate. As president of Congress he also inaugurated Álvaro Uribe as President of Colombia.
For the legislative elections of 2006 Ramos decided to join political forces with the Alternative of Social Advancement (ALAS) movement headed by Álvaro Araújo Castro and created the Alas Equipo Colombia political party. The new political party supported the reelection of Álvaro Uribe and most of his policies in congress. Ramos term as senator ended on July 19, 2006. The Alas Equipo Colombia political party crumbled due to the imprisonment of Araujo and other members, involved in the Parapolitica scandal in which politicians colluded with paramilitary groups to coerced voters and opposition candidates to gain political advantage.
Ramos decided to postulate his name for Governor of the Department of Antioquia in the regional elections of 2007 representing the Alas Equipo Colombia political party. Ramos was elected Governor of the Department of Antioquia on October 28, 2007 obtaining of 99.04% of the voting sites scrutinized 836,526 votes equivalent to 51.73% of the total votes (1,617,065 total votes). Ramos defeated candidate Eugenio Prieto Soto of the del Movimiento Una Antioquia Nueva, who obtained 579,020 votes. Ramos will be inaugurated as governor on January 1, 2008 for a period of 3 years until December 31, 2011.
On August 28, 2013 the Supreme Court of Justice requested the arrest of former governor for alleged ties with paramilitary forces. The accusation is based on free testimony given by former paramilitary commanders Freddy Rendón Herrera, aka ‘El Alemán’ and Juan Carlos Sierra, aka ‘El Tuso’. On 2015 Freddy Rendón Herrera and Juan Carlos Sierra retracted from the testimony and accepted a plea bargain from Fiscalia General de la Nacion for False Testimony.