Oswaldo Enrique López Arellano (30 June 1921 – 16 May 2010) was a two-time President of Honduras, first from 1963 to 1971 and again from 1972 until 1975.

Early life

He was born in Danlí in the department of El Paraíso to an influential family, son of Enrique López and Carlota Arellano. He joined the Army at eighteen, graduated as a pilot from the Honduran Air Force School, and spent 1942-1945 in the U.S. state of Arizona studying mechanical aviation. López served as a colonel for a long time and eventually rose to the rank of general.


López served briefly during 1957 on a military junta, which resigned after elections were held. After a violent coup, he served as president for the first time from 3 October 1963 until 7 June 1971. He then allowed further elections (Honduran general election, 1971) to take place in April 1971 that saw Ramón Ernesto Cruz come to power. On 4 December 1972, López again seized power, in the 1972 Honduran coup d'état.

During his second tenure as president, López oversaw a major land reform bill that sought to defuse tensions among peasants over their forced removal from uncultivated lands owned by landed elites or by US fruit companies. This plan was called the National Development Plan and went through two stages, the first in 1965 and the most significant ones between 1972 and 1975.[1] The Agrarian Reform Law of 1972, a Minimum Wage Act in 1973, and a Land Reform Act in 1975 came in response to the peasant union pressure, such as the CTH, Confederación de Trabajadores Hondureños and the ANACH Associación Nacional de Campesinos Hondureños.[2] The most important unions clamoring for reform, however, were the United Fruit and Standard Fruit unions SITRATERCO and SUSTRAFSCO, respectively, that included industrial workers as well.


In 1975, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission exposed a scheme by United Brands Company to bribe President López with US$1.25 million, with the promise of another $1.25 million upon the reduction of certain banana export taxes. Trading in United Brands stock was halted, and on 22 April 1975 López was ousted in a military coup led by his fellow General Juan Alberto Melgar, in the 1975 Honduran coup d'état. This scandal is known in Honduras as "Bananagate."

Personal life

López was a businessman. He owned several businesses in Central America. His eldest son, Oswaldo, died in 2003. He was the owner of TAN-SAHSA, the now defunct Honduran air carrier.

Lopez died on May 16 2010 at the age of 89 while undergoing surgery for prostate cancer.[3]


  • Pauly, David and Thomas, Rich (1975) "The Great Banana Bribe" Newsweek 21 April 1975, p. 76;
  • Obituary (in Spanish)
  • Acker, Alison. Honduras: The Making of a Banana Republic. 1988.
  • Morris, James. Honduras: Caudillo Politics and Military Rulers. 1984.

  1. ^ del Cid and Posas, Rafael, Mario (1980). ""Honduras: los limites del reformismo castrense, 1972-1979". Revista Mexicana de Sociología. 42: 607–648. 
  2. ^ Acker, Alison (1988). Honduras: The Making of a Banana Republic. South End Press. pp. 84–86. 
  3. ^ "Oswaldo López Arellano fallece a los 89 años". www.laprensa.hen. 17 May 2010. Retrieved April 5, 2017. 

See also

Political offices
Preceded by
Ramón Villeda
President of Honduras
Succeeded by
Ramón Ernesto Cruz
Preceded by
Ramón Ernesto Cruz
President of Honduras
Succeeded by
Juan Alberto Melgar
Head of State