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History, Series of Short-Lived Administrations

close victory, liberal candidate, independent candidate, agrarian reform, constitutional government

In 1952 Velasco, this time the candidate of a coalition of left- and right-wing groups, was chosen president for the third time, holding office until 1956. In the presidential elections that year, the conservative candidate Camilo Ponce Enriquez won a close victory over a liberal candidate. Velasco ran as an independent candidate in the elections of 1960. Sharply critical of the conservative economic policies of the Ponce government, he promised widespread reforms and was elected by a wide margin. Lacking any well-defined program, however, he did not last long; he was forced to resign in 1961. Shortly before, he had signed the charter of the Alliance for Progress, a document providing for extensive aid from the United States to signatories over a ten-year period.

Velasco’s successor, Vice President Carlos Arosemena Monroy, did not enjoy a long tenure either. He was overthrown in 1963 by a military junta, which implemented economic and social reforms in a series of decrees, including one for agrarian reform. In 1964 the junta submitted a ten-year national development plan to the Alliance for Progress commission, thus opening the way for negotiation of loans to finance development projects. It soon, however, faced mounting demands for a return to constitutional government, and after two weeks of rioting in July 1965 it installed a cabinet more acceptable to the opposition, but political unrest continued. In 1966 violent antigovernment demonstrations that provoked harsh retaliation triggered a countrywide upheaval. The junta was then forced out.

An interim government held power until November of that year, when a newly elected constituent assembly chose Otto Arosemena Gomez to head the state. His government survived a difficult initial period of widespread opposition, and in May 1967 a new constitution was promulgated. In the first elections under the new charter, in 1968, Velasco was once more the winner. His fifth administration, however, was no more successful than the previous ones. He assumed dictatorial powers in 1970 in order to counter dwindling support, but in 1972 he was once again overthrown by the military. The leader of the coup, General Guillermo Rodriguez Lara, chief of the army, then assumed the presidency.

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