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Ramiro de León Carpio

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Title: Ramiro de León Carpio  
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Subject: Álvaro Arzú, Attorney General of Guatemala, Orthodox Christianity in Guatemala, Álvaro Vargas Llosa, Carpio
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Ramiro de León Carpio

Ramiro de León
31st President of Guatemala
In office
6 June 1993 – 14 January 1996
Preceded by Gustavo Espina
Succeeded by Álvaro Arzú
Personal details
Born (1942-01-12)12 January 1942
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Died 16 April 2002(2002-04-16) (aged 60)
Miami, United States
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Mayra Duque
Children 3
Religion Roman Catholicism

Ramiro de León Carpio (12 January 1942 – 16 April 2002) was the President of Guatemala from 6 June 1993 until 14 January 1996.


  • Career 1
  • President 2
  • Life afterwards 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


De León studied law at the University of San Carlos and then at the Rafael Landívar University, where he ran the Sol Bolivariano ("Bolivarian Sun") newspaper. After graduating he became a state civil servant, working in the Common Market division of the Ministry of Economy between 1967 and 1969, when he became the permanent secretary of the tariff committee. In 1970 he became permanent secretary for the National Committee for Economic and Political integration. During this time he joined the right wing National Liberation Movement (MLN), whose candidate Carlos Arana won the 1970 presidential elections, and during Arana's four-year term de León served as secretary general of the State Advisory Board. He then moved to the private sector, joining the Guatemala Association of Sugar Producers, serving as their legal advisor between 1978 and 1981, and then as their general administrator until 1983. He then became involved in the bloodless coup that saw President Efraín Ríos Montt replaced by Óscar Humberto Mejía.

Along with his cousin Unity of the National Center (UCN) party.[1] It opposed authoritarianism, and instead proposed a social liberalism. He became one of the party's 21 deputies in 1984. He played an important role in creating the 1985 Constitution, still in force to this day. He supported his cousin in the latter's attempt to win the presidential elections of 1985. Carpio got to the second round, but was then defeated by Vinicio Cerezo. De León then resigned from the UCN.

In 1989 de Leon became Defensor del Pueblo ("People's Defender"), Guatemala's human rights ombudsman. While this gave him the ability to denounce human rights abuses by the powers-that-be (and be heard when he did it), he did not have any actual power to combat these abuses.


On 25 May 1993, President autocoup – a coup d'état against the country's own government – dissolving the constitution and the National Congress, and giving the order to arrest de León.[2] He avoided arrest by escaping over the roofs of the adjacent houses, and was then able to send out a condemnation of the coup. On 1 June, Serrano was forced to flee the country. The army wanted to install the conservative Gustavo Espina, Vice-President under Serrano, as the new President. De León had already accused him of violating the constitution during the autocoup. On 5 June, Espina resigned, and after an overwhelming vote of confidence from the National Congress, de León was quickly sworn in as President until 14 January 1996, the day Serrano had been due to finish his term.

De León promised to defend public freedoms and the rule of law, as well as make progress in the negotiations with the guerrillas, and purge the armed forces of their bad apples. He fired the Autodefence Civil Patrols (PAC), which had been accused of involvement in the massacres occurring during the Civil War.

Both the murder of Supreme Court chief Eduardo Epaminondas González Dubón on 3 April, and a masacre of civilians by soldiers in Xamán, department of Alta Verapaz, on 5 October 1995, created high levels of tension in the country, and put strains on the peace process. Yet in spite of these tensions free elections were able to be held under de León's rule. On 14 August 1994, 80 of the 116 seats in the National Congress came up for election, unusual in Guatemala where the members of Congress normally stand for election to coincide with the presidential election. On 14 November 1995, a new presidential election was held, and in the second round on 7 January 1996, Álvaro Arzú won to replace de León.

Life afterwards

In October 1996, de Leon became a deputy in the Central American Parliament. During the next few years he worked as an international advisor and was an election monitor for the OAS. In 1999 he joined the Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG), and was elected to the Congress in the November elections. Then, on March 18, 2002, he resigned his seat in the Congress and from the FRG, declaring that he wished he had never accepted their leader Efraín Ríos Montt's invitation to join the party. His intention was to write his memoirs and re involve himself in international work but he died while visiting Miami, United States, on 16 April; probably from a diabetic coma.[3] National mourning was declared, he was given a state funeral and was posthumously awarded the Grand Collar of the Sovereign National Congress.


  1. ^ Ramiro de Leon Carpio Biografias y Vidas. (accessed January 22, 2010)
  2. ^ Wilkinson, Tracy. "Guatemala Leader Seizes Total Power," LA Times, 26 May 1993. (accessed 22 January 2010)
  3. ^ "Ramiro de Leon Carpio, 60; Former Guatemala Leader", Associated Press, 17 April 2002. (accessed 22 January 2010)

External links

  • Biography by CIDOB (Spanish)
Political offices
Preceded by
Gustavo Espina
President of Guatemala
Succeeded by
Álvaro Arzú
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