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Torrijos, General Omar (1929–1981)

Inga Töller


General Omar Torrijos Herrera was a military dictator of the Panamanian Republic between 1968 and 1981. He took power by a coup d'état in 1968. His politics were formed by progressive and nationalist policies with a focus on the rural areas, social security, health, and education. He also wanted to regain the Panama Canal and the Canal Zone from the United States and thus recover national sovereignty. Torrijos was born to rural teachers on February 13, 1929 in Santiago, in the province of Veraguas, Panama. He earned a scholarship to the Military Academy in El Salvador and there he achieved the rank of 2nd lieutenant of infantry. In 1952 he started working with the Panamanian National Guard (the national army), where he became lieutenant colonel in 1966. After his third reelection on October 1, 1968, the former oligarchic and fascist president, Dr. Arnulfo Arias, who was deposed three times by military coups backed by the National Guard, decided to restructure the National Guard and the overseas delegation and demote several of the high commanders. This was what spurred Torrijos, who was then secretary of the Commander's Office of the National Guard, and Major Boris Martínez, to carry out the coup d'état on October 10, 1968. After the takeover, Martínez first held the highest position in the Panamanian state, but he was sent overseas by Torrijos in 1969, after an unapproved speech ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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