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C.R. Reina, 77; From Political Prisoner to President of Honduras

August 20, 2003|From Associated Press

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Carlos Roberto Reina, a former political prisoner who rose to Honduras' presidency, died Tuesday at his home in the capital, relatives said. He was 77.

The former president died of complications following gall bladder surgery, said Reina's brother, Jorge. He underwent the operation in Texas and returned to Honduras on Aug. 7. He was hospitalized a few days later before returning home to convalesce.

"He had problems with the gall bladder, which put pressure on the pancreas," Jorge Reina said. "In the end, that caused his death."

As a Liberal Party activist while still a teenager, Carlos Roberto Reina was imprisoned for six months in 1944 for protesting against dictator Tiburcio Carias. He also was imprisoned briefly by military governments in 1963 and 1968.

Reina was elected president in November 1993 with promises to crack down on corruption and reduce the role of the military.

He made gradual progress on both fronts during his four years in office, eliminating mandatory military service and helping ease the military's historic role in Honduran politics.

However, corruption, crime and poverty remain grave problems in the Central American nation.

The former president survived a 1996 bombing that blew a hole in his house.

Reina was a law professor for 30 years at the National Autonomous University and published the Liberal Party newspaper El Pueblo in the 1960s.

He first was elected to congress in 1965. After his presidential term, he was a judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and an ambassador to France.

Reina is survived by his American-born wife, Bessie Watson, and two daughters.

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