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Biography of Juan Angel Arias

He was born in Comayagua in 1859 and died in Quirigua (Guatemala) in 1927. He was the Director of the College of Santa Rosa de Copan and a Deputy for that Department. He ran as a candidate for the Presidency of the Republic in the 1923 elections, nominated by one of the two factions that emerged within the Liberal Party.

He became the Constitutional President on February 18, 1903, through an election by the National Congress, aligning himself with President Terencio Sierra. His brief government took place amidst a civil war, as Manuel Bonilla had taken up arms, rightfully claiming that his electoral victory had been usurped.

Arias was forced to relinquish power on April 13 of that year. The Liberal Government of Rafael López Gutiérrez supported him in the elections of ’23, which culminated in one of the bloodiest fratricidal conflicts of this century. He was the son of Céleo Arias.

Paulino Valladares opined about him: “He has been active in Honduran politics for the past twenty-five years, organizing a faction of the Liberal Party that is loyal, numerous, disciplined, and cohesive. Dr. Arias has not had what one might call good fortune in his public performance… He is a cultured gentleman, of clear talent, broad vision, and a radical of pure blood… He possesses a sure and assertive judgment on state affairs, and his views on administrative matters reveal an innovative and daring temperament.”

According to Alfonso Guillén Zelaya, “Dr. Arias was one of the most combative and vilified men that Honduras has produced… he had the experience, preparation, and talent to revolutionize the archaic systems of our public administration, but the constant, systematic, and underground forces of armed revolution and deceit always blocked his path. Honduras missed the opportunity to be governed by a statesman of his stature.”