Published May 17, 2010
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Honduran strongman Oswaldo Lopez Arellano, who led two military coups and served as president for more than a decade, died on Sunday, his family said. He was 89.
His family released a statement saying the former general and twice-president died of prostate cancer at a private hospital in Tegucigalpa.
With armed forces backing, then-Col. Lopez Arellano ousted President Ramon Villeda Morales in 1963 and two years later held a constitutional assembly that formalized his position as president of Honduras, then a banana-producing country under the sway Washington.
Lopez Arellano remained in power until 1971, when he backed elections won by Ramon Ernesto Cruz of the National Party.
As head of Honduras Armed Forces, in 1972 he toppled Cruz in another military coup.
Lopez Arellano himself was ousted by the armed forces in 1975 after dissident officers accused him of receiving a $2.5 million bribe they said U.S. banana company United Brands offered to reduce a banana export tax.
His years in power coincided with a short-lived war with El Salvador in 1969 known as the "Soccer War." Thousands died in the short, bloody conflict broke out after teams from the two nations played World Cup qualifying matches that saw opposing supporters beaten or killed.
Retired from power, Lopez Arellano became a businessman with holdings in banks and the now defunct Honduran airline TAN-SAHSA.
He will be buried on Monday in Tegucigalpa.
He is survived by his wife Gloria Figueroa and five children.