Turbay Ayala, Julio César (1916–)

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Turbay Ayala, Julio César (1916–)

Julio César Turbay Ayala (b. 18 June 1916), Colombian Liberal Party politician and president (1978–1982). Turbay was born in Bogotá and received a bachelor's degree from the Escuela Nacional de Comercio. Amid growing public dissatisfaction over the Liberal-Conservative power-sharing arrangement known as the Frente Nacional (National Front), then in its twentieth year, he won the presidential election of 1978, in which only 41 percent of the electorate voted. Antigovernment guerrilla groups subsequently intensified their operations, attempting to assassinate the president in 1978, staging an audacious theft of army weapons in 1979, and holding a score of diplomats hostage in the Dominican embassy in 1980. Turbay responded by stepping up military antiguerrilla operations, which soon produced an outcry against numerous arbitrary arrests and the physical abuse of detainees. Colombia was economically stable under Turbay, and government authority was never seriously threatened by the extralegal armed forces. Yet criticism of the political status quo, which Turbay represented, signaled an impending opening of the Colombian political system.

From 1982 Turbay was a senior member of the Liberal Party, leading a group known as the Turbayistas. However, his following was modest at best, owing to the unpopularity of his presidency and to personal shortcomings. In 1990 his daughter, Diana, a journalist, was kidnapped by men working for notorious Colombian druglord Pablo Escobar. She was killed the following year in a botched rescue attempt. In 1991 he was named Colombia's ambassador to Italy. He returned to Colombia in 1993, and that year he was named national director of the Liberal Party. He died in Bogotá on 13 September 2005.

See alsoColombia, Political Parties: Liberal Party; Ospina Pérez, Mariano.


Daniel Pécaut, Crónica de dos décadas de política colombiana, 1968–1988, 2d ed. (1989).

David Bushnell, The Making of Modern Colombia, a Nation in Spite of Itself (1993).

Additional Bibliography

Alcántara Sáez, Manuel, and Juan Manuel Ibeas Miguel, eds. Colombia ante los retos del siglo XXI: Desarrollo, democracia, y paz. Salamanca, Spain: Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca, 2001.

Dudley, Steven. Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Richani, Nazih. Systems of Violence: The Political Economy of War and Peace in Colombia. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002.

Turbay Ayala, Julio César. Turbay Ayala, las Fuerzas Armadas y los derechos humanos. Bogotá, Colombia: Colección Consigna, 1985.

                                 James D. Henderson