Dr. Ramón Villeda Morales
(1908–1971) served as President
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. Following the military junta of the 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 to help the poorer elements of society, introducing welfare benefits and enacting a new labor code
that favored the country's large working class population. While these steps were popular with the masses, they enraged the traditional sources of power in Honduras: the military and the upper classes. When it seemed likely that he would win the 1963 election with an even stronger mandate to enact his social reforms, the military responded with a coup, just ten days before the election was scheduled to take place.
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
. Ramón Villeda Morales died in 1971 in New York City
San Pedro Sula International Airport is named after him.