Julio César Turbay Ayala
|Julio César Turbay Ayala|
|Colombia Ambassador to Italy|
|President||César Gaviria Trujillo|
|Preceded by||Oscar Mejía Vallejo|
|Succeeded by||Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza|
|Colombia Ambassador to Holy See|
|President||Virgilio Barco Vargas|
|Succeeded by||Fernando Hinestrosa Forero|
|25th President of Colombia|
7 August 1978 – 7 August 1982
|Preceded by||Alfonso López Michelsen|
|Succeeded by||Belisario Betancur Cuartas|
|17th Colombia Ambassador to United States|
29 April 1975 – 1976
|President||Alfonso López Michelsen|
|Preceded by||Douglas Botero Boshel|
|Succeeded by||Virgilio Barco Vargas|
|12th Colombia Ambassador to United Kingdom|
6 January 1973 – 15 January 1975
|President||Misael Pastrana Borrero|
|Preceded by||Camilo de Brigard Silva|
|Succeeded by||Alfredo Vásquez Carrizosa|
|11th Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations|
|President||Carlos Lleras Restrepo|
|Preceded by||Alfonso Patiño Rosselli|
|Succeeded by||Joaquín Vallejo Arbeláez|
|Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia|
7 August 1958 – 1 September 1961
|President||Alberto Lleras Camargo|
|Preceded by||Carlos Sanz de Santamaría|
|Succeeded by||José Joaquín Caicedo Castilla|
|24th Minister of Mines and Petroleum of Colombia|
11 May 1957 – 7 August 1958
|President||Gabriel París Gordillo|
|Preceded by||Francisco Puyana|
|Succeeded by||Jorge Ospina Delgado|
18 June 1916|
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
|Died||13 September 2005
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
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Turbay was born in a poor neighborhood of “Voto Nacional”, Bogotá, on June 18, 1916. His father, Antonio Amín Turbay, was a businessman who emigrated from Tannourine, Lebanon. His mother, Rosaura Ayala, was a peasant from the province of Cundinamarca. Turbay’s father, a hard working merchant, had built a fortune, which he completely lost during the civil war of the Thousand Days War.
1978 Security Statute
In response to an increase in guerrilla activity from the 19th of April Movement (M-19) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, as well as to the Colombian Communist Party's attempts to extend its political influence and a 1977 national strike, a 1978 decree, known as the Security Statute, was implemented by Turbay's administration.
The Security Statute gave the military an increased degree of freedom of action, especially in urban areas, to detain, interrogate and eventually judge suspected guerrillas or their collaborators before military tribunals. Human rights organizations, newspaper columnists, political personalities and opposition groups complained about an increase in the number of arbitrary detentions and acts of torture as a result.
Although the Security Statute allegedly benefitted some of the counterinsurgency operations of the security forces, such as the capture of most of the M-19's command structure and many of the guerrilla group's urban cells, the measure became highly unpopular inside and outside Colombia, promoting some measure of public sympathy for the victims of the real or perceived military abuses whether they were guerrillas or not, and was phased out towards the end of the Turbay administration.
1980 Dominican embassy crisis
The M-19's late 1980 takeover of the Dominican Republic's embassy, during which sixteen ambassadors were held hostage for 61 days, presented a complicated challenge to the Turbay administration.
The incident soon spread throughout worldwide headlines, as ambassadors from the United States of America, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Israel and Venezuela had been taken hostage, as well as Colombia's top representative to the Holy See.
Turbay, despite pressure from military and political sectors, avoided deciding to solve the crisis through the use of direct military force, and instead eventually agreed to let the M-19 rebels travel to Cuba. Allegedly, the rebels also received USD 1 million as payment, instead of the initial $50 million that they had originally demanded from the government.
That a mostly peaceful resolution to the crisis was found has been generally considered as a positive aspect of Turbay's administration, as seen by later and contemporary commentators and historians.
In particular, former M-19 members, including Rosemberg Pabón, the commander of the guerrilla group's operative unit at the time, later recognized and respected Turbay's handling of the situation.
Turbay was a supporter of president Álvaro Uribe. He initially opposed the possibility of presidential reelection in Colombia, but he later changed his views, contributing to founding a movement known as Patria Nueva ("New Homeland") in order to help promote Uribe's 2006 reelection aspirations.
Support for a prisoner exchange with the FARC
Turbay was seen as at odds with some of Uribe's policies, however, in particular due to his activism in favor of the implementation and negotiation of a prisoner exchange with the FARC guerrilla group. As part of this effort, Turbay participated in several meetings with the relatives of FARC hostages and signed several declarations of support, together with other former presidents such as Alfonso López Michelsen and Ernesto Samper.
On August 31, 2005, Turbay proposed that the government could exchange each jailed guerrilla for ten "economic" hostages (those held for extortion purposes) and one "political" hostage (those held by the FARC in order to pressure the Colombian government to release its jailed members).
Turbay married his niece, Nydia Quintero Turbay, on July 1, 1948. They had four children together: Julio César, Diana, Claudia, and María Victoria. However, their marriage was annulled by the Roman Catholic Church, and in 1986 he married his longtime companion Amparo Canal, to whom he remained married until his death.
A personal idiosyncrasy was his custom of wearing bow ties, a sartorial habit extremely uncommon in Colombia.
In January 1991, Turbay's daughter, the journalist Diana Turbay, was kidnapped by orders of the Medellín Cartel and died during a failed police rescue operation not sanctioned by her family. Her kidnapping is chronicled in News of a Kidnapping by the Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez.
Turbay died on September 13, 2005. He was honored by a state funeral personally led by President Álvaro Uribe. He was buried at the Sacromonte Caves at Canton Norte, an army base in Bogotá.
- EFE, Julio César Turbay Ayala, ex presidente de Colombia, El Mundo, September 15, 2005
- Arismendi Posada, Ignacio; Gobernantes Colombianos; trans. Colombian Presidents; Interprint Editors Ltd., Italgraf, Segunda Edición; Page 249; Bogotá, Colombia; 1983