159. Intelligence Memorandum 0505/701 2

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Colombia—The ANAPO: What is it?


In the presidential election held on 19 April 1970, ex-dictator (1953–1957) 3 retired General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla garnered almost 39 percent of the total vote. He was the only one of the four contenders with any charisma, and his electoral machinery was remarkably efficient and pervasive in the major urban centers. Even so, Rojas lost to National Front candidate Misael Pastrana Borrero by little more than 66,000 votes, the closest election in Colombian history. The close vote did not result solely from Rojas’ strength; the three-way split in the Conservative Party and Pastrana’s lack of political appeal were also important.

This was the last election under the National Front system. Under the Front, which went into effect in 1958, the country’s two major political parties, the Liberals and Conservatives, alternate the presidency. The constitution under the National [Page 2] Front calls for 50–50 representation of Liberals and Conservatives in the National Congress until 1974. In addition, parity is required between the parties in governmental posts at all levels. Because it was the Conservatives’ turn, Rojas was forced to run as a Conservative.

Rojas’ phenomenal surge of popularity and the possibility that he would win the election caused consternation in the National Front and, indeed, in the highest levels of government. Because of fear that popular demonstrations on Rojas’ behalf would lead to serious violence and possibly to an attempt to seize power, a state of siege was imposed on 21 April and remains in effect. General Rojas and his politically minded daughter, Senator Maria Eugenia Rojas de Moreno, are under virtual house arrest for their attempts to call popular demonstrations after the general declared that the government was perpetrating fraud in an effort to keep him from winning the presidency.

This memorandum will examine the origins of Rojas’ political instrument, the National Popular Alliance (ANAPO), its orientation, coherence, and prospects for the future.

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[Omitted here is the body of the memorandum.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job Number 79–T00830A, Office of Current Intelligence, Box 4, Colombia, The ANAPO: What is it? No. 0505/70. Secret; No Foreign Dissem. A note indicates that this memorandum was produced solely by the CIA in the Office of Current Intelligence and coordinated with the Office of National Estimates and the Clandestine Service. An April 24 State Department Intelligence Brief noted that Rojas’s supporters “could later pose a serious threat to Colombia’s stability.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 14 COL)
  2. The memorandum noted that retired General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla won Colombia’s April 19 election with 39 percent of the vote. Because the Colombian Government feared Rojas’ victory would lead to popular demonstrations and perhaps violence, it imposed a state of seize on April 21, with Rojas and his daughter, Senator Maria Eugenia Rojas de Moreno, under virtual house arrest.
  3. For a comprehensive account of Rojas’ 1953–1957 administration see: CIA Intelligence Memorandum 0495/70, 2 April 1970, Rojas Pinilla—Next President of Colombia?