Two-time Honduran dictator Oswaldo L贸pez Arellano dies a free man

Two-time Honduran dictator Oswaldo L贸pez Arellano died over the weekend after being hospitalized for several weeks. He was 89. Born in Danl铆 in eastern Honduras, L贸pez Arellano would lead two coups d’茅tat as an army officer. In October 1963, L贸pez, then a colonel, ousted President Jos茅 Ram贸n Villeda of the Liberal Party, when was just months from finishing his six-year term in office. In 1965, with the backing of the currently ruling National Party, L贸pez took office as constitutional president and handed over power in 1971 to Ram贸n Ernesto Cruz鈥攐nly to oust him in a second coup in December 1972.

As president, L贸pez Arellano oversaw Honduras’ short but bloody war with El Salvador in 1969, dubbed the “Football War” because it was sparked by stadium violence in El Salvador-Honduras World Cup play-offs. Thousands died in the brief conflict. But his political and military career ended in April 1975, when he was overthrown in yet another coup after the “Bananagate” scandal, in which it was revealed that he had accepted a $2.5 million bribe from US banana company United Brands to reduce an export tax. Retired from power, L贸pez became a businessman with holdings in banks and the now-defunct Honduran airline TAN-SAHSA. (Canadian Press, EFE, May 18)

See our last post on Honduras.