Arias, Arnulfo

Arias, Arnulfo ärno͞olˈfō ärˈyäs [key], 1901–88, president of Panama (1940–41, 1949–51, Oct., 1968). A Harvard-trained physician, he led the coup that deposed President Florencio Harmodio Arosemena in 1931. He subsequently served in cabinet and diplomatic posts. In 1940, he was elected president by an unprecedented majority. He jailed dissidents, disenfranchised the non-Spanish-speaking population, and expressed an allegiance with the Axis powers of World War II. He was ousted in Oct., 1941, in a coup supported by the United States. Reelected president in 1949, he was deposed in May, 1951, after organizing his own secret police and suspending the constitution. He ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1964, then won election in 1968 as the standard-bearer of a five-party coalition. Taking office in October, he maneuvered to gain control of the national assembly and the supreme court and to restructure the command of the national guard. After only 11 days as president, he was ousted by national guard officers. In 1984, he again ran for the presidency but was defeated.

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