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Reyes, Rafael (1849–1921)

Reyes, Rafael (1849–1921)

Rafael Reyes (b. 5 December 1849; d. 18 February 1921), president of Colombia (1904–1909). A native of Boyacá, Reyes made a fortune in the quinine boom of the 1870s, and later explored the Putumayo region. His prominence within the Conservative Party began with the civil war of 1885, and peaked in 1895 when he led government forces at Enciso, Santander. Reyes opposed the governing Nationalist wing of the Conservatives in the 1890s, and sat out the War of the Thousand Days (1899–1902) abroad. In 1904 Reyes won the presidency in a tight election plagued by fraud. His administration, known as the quinquenio, reformed public administration and fostered economic recovery through tariff protection and amortization of paper money; his generous policy toward the defeated Liberals won him widespread support from that party. But his authoritarian style, particularly his dissolution of Congress in 1905, eventually alienated political elites of both parties. In June 1909, following street demonstrations in Bogotá, Reyes secretly boarded a ship for Europe, to the surprise of guests expecting him at a Santa Marta dinner.

See alsoColombia: Since Independence; War of the Thousand Days.


Eduardo Lemaitre Román, Rafael Reyes (1967).

Charles W. Bergquist, Coffee and Conflict in Colombia, 1886–1910 (1978), pp. 220-246.

Ignacio Arizmendi Posada, Presidentes de Colombia 1810–1990 (1989), pp. 195-198.

Additional Bibliography

Motta Vargas, Ricardo, and Jaime Castro. Ordenamiento territorial en el quinquenio de Rafael Reyes. Bogotá: Ediciones Doctrina y Ley Ltda., 2005.

Olano Correa, Carmenza. Rafael Reyes y la apertura. Boyacá: Thalassa Editores, 1991.

Santisteban Gómez, Flaminio. Ideas políticas y realizaciones de Rafael Reyes. Bogotá: Cámara de Representantes, Congreso Nacional de Colombia, 1996.

                                      Richard J. Stoller

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