Peralta Azurdia, Enrique (1908–1997)

views updated

Peralta Azurdia, Enrique (1908–1997)

Enrique Peralta Azurdia (b. 17 June 1908; d. 18 February 1997), head of government in Guatemala (1963–1966). Born in Guatemala City, Peralta graduated in 1929 from the National Military Academy, which he later headed. He became minister of defense in December 1960 after supporting Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes (1958–1963) against an attempted military coup. However, when Ydígoras allowed former president Juan José Arévalo Bermejo (1945–1951) to return to Guatemala to campaign for the presidency in 1963, Peralta led the coup that overthrew Ydígoras Fuentes.

Peralta, who served as head of government from 1963 to 1966, launched the military-civilian alliance that ruled Guatemala from 1963 to 1986. His administration strengthened military control in the countryside and, through constitutional revisions, reduced the potential power of left-wing parties. Peralta permitted elections to be held in 1966, but the Institutional Democratic Party (PID), which he formed, split, allowing a civilian, Julio César Méndez Montenegro (1966–1970), to capture the presidency.

Peralta remained an active player in Guatemalan politics during the next two decades by organizing the National Unity Front (FUN), originally a coalition between the Christian Democrats and two smaller center-right parties. FUN supported General Ángel Guevara for the presidency in 1982, and his fraudulent election led to the military coup of that year. In 1990 it supported the candidacy of José Efraín Ríos Montt.

See alsoGuatemala, Constitutions .


Jerry L. Weaver, "The Political Style of the Guatemalan Military Elite," in Militarism in Developing Countries, edited by Kenneth Fidel (1975).

Michael Mc Clintock, The American Connection, vol. 2: State Terror and Popular Resistance in Guatemala (1985).

James Dunkerley, Power in the Isthmus: A Political History of Modern Central America (1988).

Additional Bibliography

Booth, John. "A Guatemalan Nightmare: Levels of Political Violence, 1966–1972." Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs (May 1980): 195-225.

Loveman, Brian, and Thomas M. Davies. The Politics of Antipolitics: The Military in Latin America. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1997.

                                   Roland H. Ebel