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Julio César Turbay Ayala
25th President of Colombia
In office
7 August 1978 (1978-08-07) – 7 August 1982 (1982-08-07)
Preceded by Alfonso López Michelsen
Succeeded by Belisario Betancur Cuartas
Colombian Ambassador to Italy
In office
President César Gaviria Trujillo
Preceded by Oscar Mejía Vallejo
Succeeded by Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza
Colombian Ambassador to Holy See
In office
President Virgilio Barco Vargas
Succeeded by Fernando Hinestrosa Forero
Colombian Ambassador to United States
In office
29 April 1975 (1975-04-29) – 1976
President Alfonso López Michelsen
Preceded by Douglas Botero Boshel
Succeeded by Virgilio Barco Vargas
12th Colombian Ambassador to United Kingdom
In office
6 January 1973 (1973-01-06) – 15 January 1975 (1975-01-15)
President Misael Pastrana Borrero
Preceded by Camilo de Brigard Silva
Succeeded by Alfredo Vásquez Carrizosa
11th Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations
In office
President Carlos Lleras Restrepo
Preceded by Alfonso Patiño Rosselli
Succeeded by Joaquín Vallejo Arbeláez
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia
In office
7 August 1958 (1958-08-07) – 1 September 1961 (1961-09-01)
President Alberto Lleras Camargo
Preceded by Carlos Sanz de Santamaría
Succeeded by José Joaquín Caicedo Castilla
24th Minister of Mines and Petroleum of Colombia
In office
11 May 1957 (1957-05-11) – 7 August 1958 (1958-08-07)
President Gabriel París Gordillo
Preceded by Francisco Puyana
Succeeded by Jorge Ospina Delgado
Personal details
Julio César Turbay Ayala

(1916-06-18)18 June 1916
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
Died 13 September 2005(2005-09-13) (aged 89)
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
Nationality Colombian
Political party Liberal
  • Julio César Turbay Quintero
  • Diana Turbay Quintero
  • Claudia Consuelo Turbay Quintero
  • María Victoria Turbay Quintero
Occupation Lawyer

Julio César Turbay Ayala (18 June 1916 – 13 September 2005) was the 25th President of Colombia from 1978 to 1982.

Biographic data

Turbay was born in a poor neighborhood on June 18, 1916. His father, Antonio Amín Turbay, was a businessman who emigrated from Tannourine, Lebanon. His mother, Rosaura Ayala, was a peasant from the province of Cundinamarca. Turbay’s father was a hard working merchant who had built a fortune, which he completely lost during the civil war of the Thousand Days War.


1978 Security Statute

In response to an increase in guerrilla activity, a 1978 decree known as the Security Statute was implemented by Turbay's administration.

The Security Statute gave the military an increased degree of freedom of action, especially in urban areas, to detain, interrogate and eventually judge suspected guerrillas or their collaborators before military tribunals. Human rights organizations, newspaper columnists, political personalities and opposition groups complained about an increase in the number of arbitrary detentions and acts of torture as a result.

1980 Dominican embassy crisis

In late 1980, sixteen ambassadors were held hostage for 61 days as part of a takeover of the Dominican Republic's embassy. The incident soon spread throughout worldwide headlines, as ambassadors from the United States of America, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Israel and Venezuela had been taken hostage, as well as Colombia's top representative to the Holy See.

Turbay, despite pressure from military and political sectors, avoided deciding to solve the crisis through the use of direct military force, and instead eventually agreed to let the M-19 rebels travel to Cuba. Allegedly, the rebels also received USD 1 million as payment, instead of the initial $50 million that they had originally demanded from the government.

Personal life

Turbay married his niece, Nydia Quintero Turbay, on July 1, 1948. They had four children together: Julio César, Diana, Claudia, and María Victoria. However, their marriage was annulled by the Roman Catholic Church, and in 1986 he married his longtime companion Amparo Canal, to whom he remained married until his death.

In January 1991, Turbay's daughter Diana was kidnapped by orders of the Medellín Cartel and died during a failed police rescue operation not sanctioned by her family. Her kidnapping is chronicled in News of a Kidnapping by the Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez (1996) and depicted in multiple onscreen productions.


Turbay died on September 13, 2005. He was honored by a state funeral personally led by President Álvaro Uribe and was buried at the Sacromonte Caves at Canton Norte, an army base in Bogotá.

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