Former Honduran leader Arellano dies

May 17, 2010 at 7:48 PM

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, May 17 (UPI) -- Oswaldo Lopez Arellano, who led two government takeovers in Honduras, has died after being hospitalized for prostate cancer, officials said. He was 89.

An air force general, Lopez Arellano first took control of the Central American country in a bloody coup in 1963 and ruled until 1971. He returned in 1972, ousting Ramon Ernesto Cruz, who had been elected to office, and held sway until 1975 he was turned out in a coup by Gen. Juan Alberto Melgar.

Citing sources, El Heraldo reported family members took Lopez Arellano to a military hospital in Tegucigalpa where he died Sunday.

The newspaper said the government issued a statement calling his death "an irreparable loss to the Honduran society and his distinguished family." The executive branch declared three days of mourning and ordered the national flag flown at half staff in all public offices.

El Heraldo said historians estimate about 3,000 people died in the 1963 coup.

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