Humberto Miguel Ruiz Gallo (January 5, 1877 - June 4, 1952) was a Colombian labor activist, political reformer and second longest-serving President after Eusebio Iglesias, in office from 1930-1946, and was the longest-interred President to come to power by democratic means, winning four consecutive elections on the Social Party ballot.

While a self-described Marxist in his youth jailed by the Iglesias government for publishing a socialist newspaper and a left-wing guerrilla commander during the Colombian Civil War, Ruiz became more moderate after joining the national government in the early 1920's and being a part of the Congress that executed the Colombian participation in the Pacific War. He ran as the left-wing Social Party's Presidential candidate in 1930 on a platform of rebuilding the national infrastructure and economy in the aftermath of the destructive conflict and won in a landslide. He survived three assassination attempts in his Presidency as well as two threatened military coups, yet became a pivotal moderating force in various continental disagreements, especially in the early 1940's. He had a famously icy relationship with United States President Herbert Hoover, whom he once referred to as the "slave-master of Latin America," and he stoically refused to denationalize many Colombian industries or give the United States exclusive rights to the Panama Canal.

Ruiz is credited with bringing together educated urban professionals, labor activists, poor farmers and minority groups into a powerful political coalition that governed for twenty unbroken years known as the "Ruiz coalition." He is often cited as one of Colombia's greatest Presidents by historians and politicians across the political spectrum, and one of the major thoroughfares through Bogota is named Calle Humberto Ruiz in his honor, as is the Plaza de Humberto Ruiz in Caracas.

Early Life

Humberto Ruiz Aviera was born in a poor family in Baranquilla in 1877 to Magdalena Aviera and Enrique Ruiz Gará. His father was a shipbuilder who died in an accident when Ruiz was only 7 - his mother and his three brothers died in a yellow fever outbreak in 1886. Ruiz was sent to a convent in the south along with his two surviving sisters once the outbreak in Barranquilla had subsided, where he was raised until adulthood.

Ruiz attended the University of Cartagena and graduated with a law degree, but despite this advantage was unable to find work in the corrupt, graft-ripe legal world at the time and fell in with a Marxist newspaper in the city, which he helped enthusiastically publish and promote. As a certified lawyer, he defended his friends in court after their arrests - for his association with them, however, he was jailed in 1903 by the army at the infamous Los Cuernos prison in the remote mountains. In 1907, after four years in prison, he was released, and he returned to Cartagena, which at the time was the "Capital of Decadence" in Colombia in the more liberal, post-Iglesias time. He was briefly jailed again for disturbing the peace in 1910, and in 1913 was freed by force by the Colombian Revolutionary Brotherhood (HRC) to begin a guerrilla campaign against the Gómez government.

Colombian Civil War and Mainstream Politics

Congress of Colombia and Pacific War

Founding of Social Party and 1930 Presidential Campaign

Presidency of Humberto Ruiz


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