1945: Lena Baker 1905: Two murderers beheaded in French Indochina

1906: The would-be assassins of General Rafael Reyes

March 6th, 2012 Headsman

BOGOTA, Colombia, Tuesday, March 6. — The three men who on Feb. 10 attempted to assassinate Gen. Reyes, the President of the Republic of Colombia, were shot to-day at the spot where the attack took place.

-New York Times, March 8

Reyes had parlayed a successful military career into politics (Spanish link), and was the elected-ish but also dictatorial president of Colombia.

He had the misfortune to ascend to this illustrious post on the heels of a bitter civil war that had seen its Panama department break clean away. To Reyes’ administration would fall a variety of civil society infrastructure projects (more Spanish): constitutional reform, military modernization, a central bank, reconciliation with the Liberal party.

Marco Salgar (left) and Roberto Gonzalez, two of the failed assassins.

He couldn’t make these omelets without breaking a few eggs and his authoritarian power was challenged with at least two coup attempts and multiple assassination plots, as well as a bid by other Colombian territories to break away and join up with Panama.

But the most notorious angry-with-Reyes event was the 10th of February 1906 — also the title (Spanish again) of a book of photographs documenting the incident — when three gunmen ambushed Reyes on the outskirts of Bogota and somehow all managed to miss both the president and his daughter.

Reyes’ vengeance was extrajudicially old-school: the executions he arranged were not permitted under Colombian law at all, and by having them publicly shot at the scene of the crime, he added a downright medieval twist of lese-majeste.


Images from here. These are the three shooters mentioned by the Times, as well as a fourth accomplice.

However rough his methods, Reyes did accomplish some important reforms for his country, and he did have the grace to resign his position in 1909 under fire for financial and diplomatic mismangement. (The man’s five-year administration has its own periodization in Colombian historiography: the quinquenio.) There have been worse entries in the annals of dictatorship.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Assassins,Attempted Murder,Capital Punishment,Colombia,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Notable for their Victims,Public Executions,Shot,Wrongful Executions

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