Endara got his first exposure to politics after he became a member of the anti-military leader Arnulfo Arias’ party in 1961.
In 1963, Guillermo, along with three others, founded the firm ‘Solis, Endara, Delgado, and Guevara’, and it is now one of the most prosperous law firms of Panama. A year later, he was elected to public office for the first time, but he refused to accept it because electoral frauds were involved in the process.
Under the presidency of Arias, in 1968, Guillermo assumed the post of the minister of planning and economic policy. But Arias’ presidency lasted for only eleven days because the ‘Panamanian National Guard’ (now the ‘Panama Defense Forces’) brought his downfall and this led Endara to go underground.
Subsequently, he was jailed in 1971, and thereafter sent to exile, where he remained with Arias for the next six years, until the ban on Arias was lifted.
In 1977, he arrived at Panama and started his career afresh. For a few years during the 1980s, he practiced law in Panama City and even took up lectureship at the ‘University of Panama Law School’. He was also the member of Legislative Assembly for two terms.
Guillermo had always remained associated with Arias, even during his exile. After the latter’s death in 1988, Endara essayed the role of the opposition leader.
The ‘Democratic Alliance of Civic Opposition’ (ADOC) was formed by a group of parties unified to oppose the autocratic rule of the military dictator Manuel Noriega, and in 1989, Endara contested the Presidential Elections as a candidate of ‘ADOC’.
On May 7, the same year, Guillermo was elected as the President, but Noriega resorted to unfair means in an attempt to nullify the election results. The supporters of ‘ADOC’ protested against the outcome of the elections, prompting the ‘Dignity Battalions’, a group of paramilitary forces to attack them. The leaders of ‘ADOC’ received serious injuries as a result of this, and they had to be rushed to the hospital.
This incident drew the attention of the United States, which already had military bases around Panama, in order to protect the Panama Canal. Seven months after the ‘Dignity Battalions’ attacked Guillermo Panama was invaded by the US.
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Endara chose to take oath as the new President instead of allowing the US to enforce an occupation government in Panama.
When Noriega took refuge in the Vatican City, the newly elected president wrote to the religious leader Pope John Paul II, and requested him to handover this military dictator to the US forces. Noriega was thus, sentenced to an imprisonment of 30 years in Miami as he was found guilty of drug trafficking.
During his presidency, the leader, as promised in his election campaigns, restored democracy in the country. He also terminated the Panamanian military and established the ‘National Police’ force.
Before Endara ascended as the President of Panama, the country suffered extreme poverty under the military regime, a period which also saw a rise in narcotic trade. The new president took special measures to increase the economic growth.
Guillermo even went on a hunger strike in February 1990 to grab the attention of the US government towards Panama’s poor economic condition.
He met the then US president George Bush on April 1990, and convinced him to grant an emergency relief aid of $1 billion. The Panamanian leader also asked for Bush’s help to truncate the widespread narcotic trade.
He even made foreigner investors believe that the Panamanian Banks were now secure to handle their deposits. This helped to enhance the economic growth of the country.
in 1991, a rift was created in the ‘ADOC’ due to clashes between the Panamanian President and Arias. This led Endara to remove Arias from his cabinet services on 8th April.
Gradually, the president’s popularity began to fade away. One major reason was the accusations made against his wife Ana Mae for misuse of resources meant for the public.
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After the 1994 Presidential Elections, Ernesto Pérez Balladares succeeded him as the new president of Panama.
He parted ways with the ‘Arnulfista Party’ in 2004, and contested the presidential election as a candidate of the ‘Solidarity Party’, but did not emerge the winner.
This former Panamanian President then founded the party ‘Moral Vanguard of the Fatherland’, and in the year 2009, he contested the Panamanian general elections as a candidate of this party. The leader remained active in national politics until his death.
Personal Life & Legacy
The Panamanian leader first got married to a woman named Marcela Cambra. They were blessed with a daughter named Marcela María. He also has three grandchildren named Javier, Marcela Victoria and Jacob.
This leader was attacked in 1989 by the paramilitary group ‘Dignity Battalions’. The news of his attack left his wife in a state of shock, which led to her death due to cardiac arrest.
At the age of fifty-four, after joining office as a president, he married Ana Mae Diaz Chen, a law student who was in her early twenties.
His popularity decreased after he was associated with a few scandals. One such incident was when his wife, Ana Mae, was blamed with vending food which had been donated by Italy.
Endara was criticised by the people for his lack of concern for the poor. The reason behind it was his wife Ana, who had won US$ 125,000 in a lottery competition, and didn’t spend any amount towards the development of the society.
He breathed his last on 28th September 2009. The reason for his death is still ambiguous. While some say he died of cardiac arrest, some others are of the opinion that he had been suffering from diabetes, as a result of which his kidneys failed.