Rojas Pinilla, Gustavo (1900–1975)

views updated

Rojas Pinilla, Gustavo (1900–1975)

Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, president of Colombia (1953–1957), was born in Tunja, Boyacá. Rojas attended the Colombian military academy in Bogotá and later studied engineering in the United States. After a stint as a road engineer, he rejoined the Colombian army during the war with Peru in 1932, rising to the rank of lieutenant general by 1949. Despite his Conservative sympathies, on June 13, 1953, Rojas deposed Laureano Góomez in a bloodless coup; his pledge to end the disastrous violencia and establish political peace was initially well received by both traditional parties. However by 1956 renewed violence, an economic downturn, and bipartisan opposition to Rojas's own political ambitions had weakened his position both within the armed forces and among the civilian political elites of both parties, and on May 10, 1957, he was forced out by his fellow senior officers.

In 1959 Rojas was convicted of abuses of power by the Colombian Senate, but throughout the 1960s his hazily populist and highly personalist National Popular Alliance (ANAPO) was a thorn in the side of the bipartisan National Front. In April 1970 Rojas narrowly lost the presidential election against the Front candidate, Misael Pastrana Borrero, after a controversial suspension of vote counting by the outgoing president, Carlos Lleras Restrepo. Although ANAPO declined in the 1970s and 1980s under the leadership of Rojas's daughter, María Eugenia Rojas (b. 1932), an armed splinter group developed into the "M-19" or "April 19 movement," named after the date of the alleged electoral fraud against Rojas.

See alsoColombia: Since Independence; Colombia, Political Parties: National Popular Alliance (ANAPO).


Martz, John. Colombia: A Contemporary Political Survey. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1962.

Berry, R. Albert, et al, eds. Politics of Compromise: Coalition Government in Colombia. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1980.

                                             Richard Stoller