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Gustavo Rojas Pinilla

On May 2, 1958, two days before presidential elections, a group of military police officers friendly to former dictator General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla staged a spectacular coup d'etat in Bogotá. They briefly captured Alberto Lleras Camargo, head of the Liberal Party and leading candidate for President, and four members of the military junta that had been ruling Colombia since the 1957 revolution. Admiral Ruben Piedrahita, the junta's fifth member, succeeded in rallying loyal forces and the rebellion was put down.

Authorized by President Lleras to return to Colombia, General Rojas arrived in Bogotá in October, allegedly to defend himself against charges in congressional proceedings that he had abused his presidential power while in office. When he refused to testify before a Senate committee, policemen marched him to the hearings. Late in November he was arrested and imprisoned aboard a navy vessel off the Colombian coast after the government charged that he was plotting a counterrevolution.

Pinilla, hat in hand, is escorted to a Senate hearing to answer charges of misconduct.

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This page was last updated on January 24, 2016.

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