“La Violencia” (1948)

On April 9, 1948, populist politician Jorge Eliécer Gaitán Ayala was assassinated in Colombia, igniting riots in the streets and 10 years of political unrest known as “La Violencia”.  Ayala was a former Education and Labor Minister, and was elected Mayor of Colombia’s capital city of Bogota.  Gaitán earned national prestige through his congressional investigation of the workers’ strike and revolt in the Santa Marta banana zone in 1929.  He documented the excesses of management and the army’s repressive intervention, making him a hero to Colombian rural voters. He was assassinated during his campaign for the presidency.

Carlos Salinas de Gortari, President of Mexico

April 3, 1948 is the birthday of Carlos Salinas de Gortari.  He was born in the small town of Agualeguas, Mexico, about 25 miles south of the US border.  In the mid-1970s Salinas studied at Harvard, where he earned a doctoral degree in political economy and government.  Salinas was elected President of Mexico in 1988, and served until 1994.  During his administration, Mexican government policy moved toward an economy based more on free market principles than on state control and toward better economic relations with the US. Salinas played a critical role in negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).