Guillermo David Endara Galimany is a well-known nationalist, a man who dreamed of liberating his country from the grip of a military dictatorship and reviving democracy in the best possible way. He was born into a middle-class family in Panama City and spent his youth in exile with his family due to their support for anti-military leader Arnulfo Arias. Even though he was imprisoned for supporting nationalist leader Arias, he continued to pursue his goals. His efforts were rewarded when he was elected President of Panama and succeeded in establishing democracy in his country. He ended the military regime that had deteriorated the nation’s economy during his presidency and established the ‘National Police’ force. He made a concerted effort to improve Panama’s economic situation through negotiations with the US government and other investors. The efforts of this Panamanian leader convinced the US government to release funds to help his country improve its economy. He also gained the confidence of foreign investors, convincing them that their money is safe in Panamanian banks. To learn more about his life, works, and accomplishments, read the biography below.
Childhood & Adolescence
Guillermo Endara Paniza was born in Panama City on 12 May 1936 to Guillermo Endara Paniza and Elsa Maria Galimany Codol. His father was close to Arnulfo Arias, founder of the ‘Panameista Party.’ After Arias was deposed, Endara and his family were forced to live in exile alongside Arias for several years.
He attended schools such as ‘Colegio La Salle Christian Brothers’ in Buenos Aires and ‘Black-Foxe Military Institute’ in Los Angeles during his exile. Guillermo excelled in school and went on to earn a law degree from the ‘University of Panama Law School’. He then continued his legal studies at ‘New York University,’ before returning to Panama and being appointed Professor of Commercial Law at ‘University of Panama.’
Career of Guillermo Endara
Endara first became involved in politics in 1961, when he joined the anti-military leader Arnulfo Arias’ party.
Guillermo, along with three others, founded the firm ‘Solis, Endara, Delgado, and Guevara’ in 1963, which has grown to become one of Panama’s most prosperous law firms. He was elected to public office for the first time a year later, but he refused to accept it due to electoral fraud.
Guillermo was appointed Minister of Planning and Economic Policy during Arias’ presidency in 1968. However, Arias’ presidency lasted only eleven days due to his demise at the hands of the ‘Panamanian National Guard’ (now the ‘Panama Defense Forces’), which prompted Endara to flee.
He was later imprisoned in 1971 and then exiled, where he remained with Arias for the next six years, until the Arias ban was lifted.
In 1977, he relocated to Panama and began a new career. He practiced law in Panama City for a few years during the 1980s, even accepting a lectureship at the ‘University of Panama Law School’. He also served two terms in the Legislative Assembly.
Guillermo had remained close to Arias throughout his exile. Following the latter’s 1988 demise, Endara assumed the role of opposition leader.
The ‘Democratic Alliance of Civic Opposition’ (ADOC) was formed by a coalition of parties united to oppose the military dictator Manuel Noriega’s autocratic rule, and Endara ran for President in 1989 as a ‘ADOC’ candidate.
Guillermo was elected President on May 7, the same year, but Noriega used dubious means to nullify the election results. The supporters of ‘ADOC’ demonstrated against the election results, prompting an attack on them by the ‘Dignity Battalions,’ a group of paramilitary forces. As a result of this, the leaders of ‘ADOC’ sustained serious injuries and were rushed to the hospital.
This incident attracted the attention of the United States, which already maintained military bases in the Panama Canal region in order to protect it. Panama was invaded by the US seven months after the ‘Dignity Battalions’ attacked Guillermo.
Endara chose to take the oath of office as President rather than allow the United States to impose an occupation government in Panama.
When Noriega sought refuge in the Vatican City, the newly elected president wrote to Pope John Paul II, requesting that he hand over Noriega to US forces. Noriega was thus sentenced to 30 years in prison in Miami after being convicted of drug trafficking.
As promised during his election campaigns, the leader restored democracy to the country during his presidency. Additionally, he disbanded the Panamanian military and established the ‘National Police.’
Prior to Endara’s election as President of Panama, the country suffered from extreme poverty under the military regime, which coincided with an increase in narcotics trafficking. The new president has taken extraordinary measures to boost economic growth.
Guillermo even staged a hunger strike in February 1990 to draw the US government’s attention to Panama’s dire economic situation.
In April 1990, he met with then-US President George Bush and convinced him to grant a $1 billion emergency relief loan. Additionally, the Panamanian leader requested Bush’s assistance in putting an end to the widespread narcotics trade.
He even convinced foreign investors that Panama’s banks were now secure enough to handle their deposits. This contributed to the country’s economic growth.
In 1991, a schism developed within the ‘ADOC’ as a result of clashes between Panamanian President Arias and Arias. Endara removed Arias from his cabinet services on 8th April as a result of this.
The president’s popularity began to wane gradually. One significant reason was the allegations leveled against his wife Ana Mae of misusing public resources.
Ernesto Pérez Balladares succeeded him as President of Panama following the 1994 Presidential Elections.
He left the ‘Arnulfista Party’ in 2004 and ran for President as a candidate of the ‘Solidarity Party,’ but was defeated.
This former Panamanian President then founded the party ‘Moral Vanguard of the Fatherland,’ and as a candidate for this party in the 2009 Panamanian general elections. Until his death, the leader remained active in national politics.
Significant Works of Guillermo Endara
Panama had a phony democracy under the military dictator Omar Torrijos’s regime, and the country’s state deteriorated further under his successor Manuel Noriega. During the tenures of these two leaders, drug trafficking increased dramatically and weakened the country’s economy. When Endara became President, he replaced the Panamanian military with the national police force, which aided in the restoration of democracy in Panama.
Personal History and Legacies
Initially, the Panamanian leader married a woman named Marcela Cambra. They were fortunate enough to have a daughter named Marcela Mara. Javier, Marcela Victoria, and Jacob are among his grandchildren.
In 1989, this leader was assassinated by members of the paramilitary group ‘Dignity Battalions.’ The news of his attack shocked his wife, which resulted in her death from cardiac arrest.
He married Ana Mae Diaz Chen, a law student in her early twenties, at the age of fifty-four, shortly after taking office as president.
His popularity dwindled after he became embroiled in a few scandals. One such incident involved his wife, Ana Mae, being accused of vending food donated by Italy.
Endara was chastised by the populace for his apparent disregard for the poor. The reason for this was his wife Ana, who had won US$ 125,000 in a lottery competition but had made no contribution to society’s development.
On September 28, 2009, he breathed his final breath. The cause of his death remains unknown. While some believe he died of cardiac arrest, others believe he died of kidney failure as a result of diabetes.
Estimated Net Worth
The estimated net worth of Guillermo Endara of unknown.
He reportedly gained a great deal of contentment in his second marriage and would even skip cabinet meetings to be with his wife, earning him the nickname EL GORDO FELIZ (meaning Happy Fatty)