Suárez, Marco Fidel (1855–1927)

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Suárez, Marco Fidel (1855–1927)

Marco Fidel Suárez (b. 23 April 1855; d. 3 April 1927), Colombian man of letters and president (1918–1921). Suárez was born out of wedlock in Hatoviejo (now Bello), Antioquia. Although his mother, a washerwoman, was very poor, a visiting priest recognized his intellectual ability and secured his admission to the seminary in Medellín. Suárez left the seminary in 1877 before ordination and found employment as a teacher in Antioquia and Bogotá. He first gained notice in 1881, when he won a contest sponsored by the Colombian Academy to commemorate the centenary of the birth of philologist Andrés Bello. His winning essay, Ensayo sobre la "Gramática castellana de D. Andrés Bello," was published, and he became a member of the academy in 1883.

In the 1880s and 1890s Suárez held increasingly important government positions and was an articulate spokesman for the Nationalist wing of the Conservative Party. As a cabinet member under President Manuel A. Sanclemente, he protested the latter's removal on 31 July 1900. Returning to public life in 1910, Suárez defeated two other candidates in the presidential election of 1917. Critics charged that his victory was fraudulent, and he had to contend with bitter opposition during his administration.

In 1919 workers who erroneously believed that the government planned to buy army uniforms abroad staged a demonstration in Bogotá. When the crowd prevented Suárez from speaking, there was an outbreak of violence in which seven persons were killed. There was also controversy over ratification of the Thomson-Urrutia Treaty, which aimed at restoring harmonious relations between Colombia and the United States. On 26 October 1921 Laureano Gómez, then a Conservative deputy, directed a vitriolic attack at Suárez, accusing him of various financial improprieties. Suárez denied any misconduct but resigned the following month. He spent his remaining years writing his memoirs in dialogue form. These were published in twelve volumes as Sueños de Luciano Pulgar (1925–1940).

See alsoColombia: Since Independence; Colombia, Political Parties: Conservative Party.


Fernando Galvis Salazar, Don Marco Fidel Suárez (1974).

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

Additional Bibliography

Morales Benítez, Otto. Sanclemente, Marroquín: El liberalismo y Panamá. Bogotá: Stamato Editores, 1998.

                                          Helen Delpar