Odría, Manuel Apolinario (1897–1974)

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Odría, Manuel Apolinario (1897–1974)

Manuel Apolinario Odría (b. 26 November 1897; d. 18 February 1974), military dictator and president of Peru (1948–1956) who represented the rise to power of technocratic forces among the Peruvian army. Born in Tarma, he was educated in the military academy of Chorrillos (1915–1919) and trained in the Peruvian Advanced War School and in the United States. He rose to notoriety through his leadership as lieutenant colonel in the victorious battle of Zarumilla during the war between Peru and Ecuador in 1941, which was settled by international agreement in 1942.

Because of his military training, Odría was vehemently opposed to the populist Aprista Party. In 1946, Odría became the chief commander of the army. General Odría performed briefly as minister of government under President José Luis Bustamante y Rivero (1945–1948) before his resignation in opposition to the Apristas' growing influence. Odría led the coup d'état that overthrew Bustamante's beleaguered regime in 1948. By 1950, Odría maneuvered his "election" as constitutional president. He adopted the economically liberal recommendations of U.S. adviser Julius Klein, resumed servicing Peru's foreign debt, which had been in default since 1931, and enticed foreign (mainly U.S.) investment by liberalizing the mining and petroleum codes. This coincided with the favorable position of Peruvian export prices in the early 1950s to produce an economic boom.

In the domestic terrain Odría combined severe repressive measures, especially against the Aprista Party and its leader, Víc t or Raú l Haya De La Torre, who sought a long asylum in the Colombian embassy, with demagogic acts and public works. His wife, María Delgado de Odría, became the leading figure of the regime's social charity. Housing, school, and health insurance projects were carried out, and concessions granted to slum dwellers. However, the growing opposition, even among the social elite led by Pedro Beltrán, resulted in the need to call elections in 1956. Odría handed power to Manuel Prado (1956–1962). Odría participated in the elections of 1962 with his own party, the Odriista National Union, which paradoxically established an alliance with Odría's former foe, the Aprista Party, in opposition to the election and regime of Fernando Belaúnde (1963–1968). He died in Lima.

See alsoPeru: Peru Since Independence .


David Collier, Squatters and Oligarchs: Authoritarian Rule and Policy Change in Peru (1976).

Rosemary Thorp and Geoffrey Bertram, Peru, 1890–1977: Growth and Policy in an Open Economy (1978).

David Werlich, Peru: A Short History (1978).

Gonzalo Portocarrero Maisch, De Bustamante a Odría (1983).

Additional Bibliography

Guerra, Margarita. Manuel A. Odría. Lima: Editorial Brasa, 1994.

Tamariz Lúcar, Domingo. La ronda del general: Testimonios inéditos del Cuartelazo de 1948. Lima: J. Campodonico Editor, 1998.

                                    Alfonso W. Quiroz