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Ramon Villeda Morales

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Ramon Villeda Morales

For the municipality, see Ramón Villeda Morales (municipality).

Ramon Villeda Morales
President of Honduras
In office
1957–1963
Preceded by Military Government Council
Succeeded by Osvaldo Lopez Arellano
Personal details
Born (1909-11-26)November 26, 1909
Ocotepeque, Honduras
Died October 8, 1971(1971-10-08) (aged 61)
New York
Political party Liberal Party
Spouse(s) Alejandrina Bermúdez Milla

José Ramón Adolfo Villeda Morales (26 November 1909 – 8 October 1971) served as President of Honduras from 1957 to 1963. Trained as a physician, Villeda Morales was a liberal who supported the democratization of Honduras after a long period of military rule. He was the Liberal Party candidate in the 1954 presidential election, the first free election for over two decades, winning a plurality over a divided National Party but falling short of a majority. The deadlock led to a coup by Vice-President Julio Lozano Díaz. Following the military junta of 1955, he was chosen by the country's constituent assembly to serve as president and oversee the transition to democracy. Villeda Morales immediately embarked on a campaign which he believed would help the poorer elements of society, introducing welfare benefits and enacting a new labor code that favored the country's large working class population (working on the theory that regulations, rather than the market, can improve, rather than undermine, long-term conditions of work). While these steps were popular with the masses, they enraged the traditional holders of power in Honduras: the military and the upper classes. When it seemed likely that the Liberal Party candidate, Modesto Rodas Alvarado, would win the 1963 election with an even stronger mandate to enact social reforms, the military responded with a coup, just ten days before the election was scheduled to take place.

Ramón Villeda Morales died in 1971 in New York City.

Legacy

Villeda Morales helped modernize Honduras, and to create its public health, public education, and social security systems. He was a key supporter of the Alliance for Progress.

San Pedro Sula International Airport is named after him. His son Mauricio Villeda Bermúdez is a leader of the Liberal Party and a candidate for the presidency in the 2013 elections.

See also

Political offices
Preceded by
Military Government Council
President of Honduras
1957–1963
Succeeded by
Oswaldo López Arellano

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