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Bogotazo

Bogotazo

Bogotazo, also known as the Nueve de Abril, was a riot in Bogotá, Colombia, after the fatal shooting of Jorge E. Gaitán on 9 April 1948. Gaitán, head of the Liberal Party, was a popular hero whose death enraged his lower- and middle-class followers. A mob soon murdered the assassin, Juan Roa Sierra. The rioters then turned their fury on institutions associated with the ruling Conservative Party and the existing social order, such as government buildings, churches, the Jockey Club, and El Siglo, a Conservative newspaper. Many shops were looted, and hundreds were killed or wounded before order was restored on 11 April. Disturbances also took place in other cities. The Bogotazo interrupted the Ninth International Conference of American States attended by the foreign ministers of twenty-one nations, including U.S. secretary of state George C. Marshall. Also present was Fidel Castro, who was in Bogotá to attend a student conference sponsored by the Peronist government of Argentina and took part in the rioting, which represented his first exposure to a revolutionary situation.

In the event, the army remained loyal to the Conservative president, Mariano Ospina Pérez, who rejected calls to resign. He blamed the riot on a communist plot and added Liberals to his cabinet, but the Bogotazo exacerbated partisan tensions and contributed to the deepening violencia. Secretary Marshall declared that the Soviet Union was responsible for the Bogotazo. The inter-American meeting resumed on April 14, approved a resolution denouncing communism, and completed work on the charter of the Organization of American States by the end of the month.

See alsoGaitan, Jorge Eliécer; Organization of American States (OAS); Ospina Pérez, Mariano.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alape, Arturo. El Bogotazo: Memorias del olvido, 2nd edition. Havana: Casa de las Américas, 1983.

Braun, Herbert. The Assassination of Gaitán: Public Life and Urban Violence in Colombia. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1985.

Henderson, James D. Modernization in Colombia: The Laureano Gómez Years, 1889–1965. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001.

                                            Helen Delpar

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