|18th President of Colombia|
7 August 1950 – 5 November 1951
|Preceded by||Mariano Ospina Pérez|
|Succeeded by||Gustavo Rojas Pinilla|
|Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia|
21 March 1948 – 10 April 1948
|President||Mariano Ospina Pérez|
|Preceded by||Domingo Esguerra Plata|
|Succeeded by||Eduardo Zulueta Ángel|
|28th Minister of Public Works of Colombia|
8 June 1925 – 7 August 1926
|President||Pedro Nel Ospina Vázquez|
|Preceded by||Aquilino Villegas Hoyos|
|Succeeded by||Mariano Ospina Pérez|
|Born||Laureano Eleuterio Gómez Castro
20 February 1889
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
|Died||13 July 1965
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
|Resting place||Central Cemetery of Bogotá|
|Spouse(s)||María Hurtado Cajiao (1916–1965)|
|Alma mater||National University of Colombia (BSc, 1909)|
Gómez was born in Bogotá on February 20, 1889. He studied engineering at the National University of Colombia, graduating in 1909. He was the founder and editor of the periodical La Unidad from 1909 to 1916. He was first elected to parliament in 1911, serving until 1918. He was elected again in 1921 serving in various cabinet roles throughout the next twenty years. In 1932 Gómez gained control of the Conservative party in Colombia, a role which he relished. Under his leadership the party was highly disciplined, and provided strong opposition to the ruling Liberal Government. In 1936 he founded the Colombian daily El Siglo. He was widely viewed as a brilliant parliamentarian and political tactician. However, he got into trouble because of his open sympathy for fascism; he was an admirer of Adolf Hitler and Francisco Franco. He was exiled several times, the last time from 1946 to 1948.
Election and assumption of the presidency
While the country was amidst the period of unrest called La Violencia, Gómez gained the presidency in 1950 in an election in which the Liberals refused to participate. He was inaugurated in August 1950; thereafter, he continued the state of emergency instituted by his predecessor, Mariano Ospina Pérez.
Following his inauguration Gómez ordered Colombian troops to support the United Nations Command and United States forces in the Korean War. The Colombian Battalion remained in Korea throughout the war.
Gómez suffered a heart attack in 1951. Although fearing for his life, he continued to control the government through a puppet successor, Roberto Urdaneta Arbeláez. With public order collapsing, General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla seized power in 1953 and Gómez fled to Spain. There he continued to lead the Conservatives in exile. He was instrumental in a 1956 agreement, the Pact of Benidorm, between the two main parties, negotiated with Liberal leader Alberto Lleras Carmago to counter the military regime.
A year after the collapse of the military regime, Gómez, representing the Conservative Party, and Lleras Carmargo, representing the Liberals, signed the Declaration of Sitges which defined the next 15 years of Colombian politics. The unique agreement provided for alternation of Conservatives and Liberals in the presidency, an equal sharing of ministerial and other government posts. The declaration and the resulting coalition divided authority between the parties until 1974. This period is known as the National Front.
Gómez returned to Colombia where he continued to dominate the Conservative party until his death on July 13, 1965, in Bogotá.
Gómez was also a writer and a well known art critic; he was a patron of the arts and did much for artistic culture in Colombia. He had candid disputes with artists he criticized (such as Eladio Velez) and artists he acclaimed (such as Santiago Martinez Delgado).