born Feb. 20, 1889, Bogot, Colombia died July 13, 1965, Bogot in full Laureano Eleuterio Gmez Castro extremely conservative politician who was president of Colombia (1950-53) until forced into exile by a coalition of Liberals and Conservatives. Gmez received an engineering degree in 1909 but immediately entered politics and journalism, serving in various ministries at home and abroad in the 1920s. In 1932 he became the head of the Conservative Party. Gmez' strong support for both Adolf Hitler and Francisco Franco caused him frequent trouble in Colombia, and he was forced into exile several times. When the Conservatives gained the presidency in 1946, he was appointed foreign minister but was exiled once again for his suspected involvement in the assassination of the Liberal politician Jorge Elicer Gaitn. Returning to Colombia, he became president in 1950 after an election marked by the imposition of martial law and press censorship and by the failure of the Liberals to participate. His rule earned him the enmity of most Colombians of all political shades. He censored the press, shackled the courts, terrorized Protestants, and caused violent rebellion in the countryside. Deposed in 1953, he fled once again to Spain. But his successor as president, Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, was so savage and incompetent that in 1957 Gmez joined with the Liberals in establishing the national front that placed Alberto Lleras Camargo in the presidency.

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