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Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre

founder of the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (APRA)

Victor Raul Haya de la Torre

The son of wealthy parents, Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre was born in Trujillo, Peru, on February 22, 1895. He studied literature at the National University of Trujillo, and then law at the National University of San Marcos in Lima. His activism began at San Marcos, where he was instrumental in getting administrative reforms instituted, including the creation of extension programs through which the university students hoped to reach the working classes.

In 1923 Haya was exiled by the government of Augusto B.Leguia after leading a mass demonstration protesting the dedication of Peru to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On May 7, 1924, while in exile in Mexico City, he founded APRA, which was dedicated to Latin-American unity, the nationalization of foreign-owned enterprises, and an end to exploitation of Indians. He ran the Aprista movement from exile until 1931, when he returned to Peru to run for President. After a hotly disputed election, Colonel Luis M. Sánchez Cerro was inaugurated, and Haya was jailed. He was released following the assassination of Sánchez Cerro in 1933.

From 1934 to 1945 Haya lived in hiding in Peru, but became widely known through his underground activities and writings. In 1945 APRA took the name People’s Party (Partido del Pueblo) and threw its support behind the successful presidential candidate, José Luis Bustamante y Rivero. Bustamante outlawed the People's Party in 1947, and was overthrown by General Manuel Odría the following year. During the disorders Haya took asylum in the Colombian embassy in Lima, where he remained until 1954, when international pressure secured him safe passage to Mexico. He remained in Mexico until 1957, when constitutional government was restored in Peru and his party was again legalized.

Haya was the Aprista candidate for President in 1962; Odria and Fernando Belaúnde Terry were his principal oppoents. After a bitter and violent campaign and an indecisive electoral outcome, the contest was thrown to the Congress, in which the Apristas were the leading, but not majority, party. The army, however, was determined to prevent Haya's victory and took over the government and annulled the election. New elections in June 1963, in which Haya was again a candidate, gave Belaúnde the presidency.

Political parties were banned by the military junta that overthrew Belaúnde in 1968, and Peru remained unstable throughout most of the 1970's. The Apristas remained popular during that period, however, and when the first elections since 1963 were held on June 18, 1978, they won 37 of the 100 National Assembly seats. In 1978 Haya was elected President of the Constitutional Assembly, which was charged with drafting a constitution that would restore civilian rule.

Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre died in Lima on August 2, 1979, a few days after signing Peru's new constitution.

Fernando Belaúnde Terry

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The Robinson Library >> American History >> South America >> Peru >> Post-Independence, 1821-Present

This page was last updated on October 02, 2017.