Villeda Morales

Villeda Morales

[bee-ye-thah maw-rah-les]
Villeda Morales, Ramón, 1909-71, president of Honduras (1957-63). A physician, he was prominent in the Liberal party and served as Honduran ambassador to the United States and the Organization of American States. Selected president of Honduras by a constituent assembly, he launched a Liberal, prolabor regime that aroused considerable opposition, introducing welfare benefits, a social security law, and a new labor code. In 1963, 10 days before scheduled presidential elections in which the Liberal candidate appeared likely to win, Villeda was overthrown in an army coup led by Col. Osvaldo López. Villeda later served as head of the Honduran delegation to the United Nations. He died in New York City.
Dr. Ramón Villeda Morales (1908–1971) 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. 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.

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. Ramón Villeda Morales died in 1971 in New York City.

San Pedro Sula International Airport is named after him.

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