Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro

Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro (August 12, 1889 – April 30, 1933) was a high-ranking Peruvian army officer who served as the 48th President of Peru, from 1931 to 1933 as well as Interim President of Peru, officially as the President of the Provisional Government Junta, from 1930 to 1931. On August 22, 1930, as a lieutenant-colonel, he overturned the eleven-year dictatorship of Augusto B. Leguía after a coup d'état in Arequipa.

Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro
Sánchez Cerro.jpg
President of Peru
In office
December 8, 1931 – April 30, 1933
Prime MinisterGermán Arenas Zuñiga
Francisco Lanatta
Luis A. Flores
Ricardo Rivadeneyra
Carlos Zavala Loayza
José Matías Manzanilla
Preceded byDavid Samanez
Succeeded byOscar R. Benavides
President of the Military Government Junta of Peru
In office
August 27, 1930 – March 1, 1931
Prime MinisterLuis Miguel Sánchez Cerro
Preceded byManuel Ponce
Succeeded byRicardo Leoncio Elías
Prime Minister of Peru
In office
August 28, 1930 – November 24, 1930
PresidentManuel María Ponce Brousset
Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro
Preceded byFernando Sarmiento
Succeeded byAntonio Beingolea
Personal details
BornAugust 12, 1889
Piura, Peru Peru
DiedApril 30, 1933 (age 43)
Lima, Peru Peru
Political partyRevolutionary Union

Following Leguía's resignation, Manuel Ponce was interim president until Sánchez was chosen on August 27. The new president flew to Lima and himself served as provisional president until the military with whom he had effected the coup forced him into exile after six months in office.

Birth PlaceEdit

Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro was born in Piura on August 12, 1889 to Antonio Sánchez and Rosa Cerro. He was the first Peruvian President to have Indigenous Peruvian ancestry[1] as well as allegedly also being of Afro-Peruvian Malagasy descent based on a rumour he was from a part of Piura populated by descendants of Malagasy slaves.[2][3]

Early careerEdit

Luis Miguel Sánchez was wounded in five places and lost three fingers of his left hand when he seized the spitting muzzle of a machine gun (with his bare hands) and turned it against government forces during the overthrowing of President Guillermo Billinghurst, in 1914.

In 1921 he was again shot and injured when captured in Lima, in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow President Leguía. During his exile abroad he served with the Spanish Foreign Legion in Morocco, where he was wounded. He got a post at the ministry of war in 1924. He also served with the Royal Army of Italy in 1925, and took advanced military studies in France in 1926.

President of the Junta (1930-1931)Edit

In 1931, as president of the military junta, Sánchez awarded Prince Edward VIII of Wales with Peru's Order of the Sun, and proceeded to escort the prince and his entourage in the voyage back to the United Kingdom. Sánchez was awarded in return with the Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire.

After six months in office, prominent Peruvian Navy officers held talks with Colonel Sánchez, and told him that only a single regiment in Lima remained loyal to his regime. As a result of this, Sánchez resigned, stating that he "only wanted to save his country," and that he "had no political ambition."

The Navy then selected Chief Justice Ricardo Leoncio Elías of Peru's Supreme Court as the new president of the Republic on March 1, 1931.

President of Peru (1931-1933)Edit

The commander Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro.

In October 1931, the military Junta permitted a national election. Luis Sánchez was allowed to participate and won the elections by a majority of 19,745 votes, running as the candidate for the Revolutionary Union which he founded. President Luis M. Sánchez was inaugurated at Peru's Government Palace as the forty-fifth President of Peru.

The results, however, were contested by the main opposition party, APRA.

In March 1932, as he was leaving Lima's socialite Church in Miraflores, an assassination attempt by an unknown individual – later identified as José Melgar – took place. Melgar attempted to shoot the president in the chest, but missed. The president himself was armed and almost shot his aggressor, but was stopped short of doing so by his bodyguards after they arrested the man.

Days after, the president commuted the death sentence of José Melgar to imprisonment for twenty-five years. He claimed that his "actions were entirely personal". The assassin claimed that his actions were not "politically motivated".

On June 1932, another revolt against President Sánchez took place in Huaraz. The President closed both the National College and the National University as "hotbeds of revolutions," and appealed for voluntary contributions to purchase three squadrons of bombing planes in order to put down further revolts.

Conflict with Colombia and assassinationEdit

In September 1932, a group of Peruvian civilians and military dressed as civilians, staged a private raid and seized the Colombian town of Leticia. They then expelled the town's Colombian officials and demanded the support of the Peruvian Government. The surge of patriotism was too strong to be resisted by Sánchez.

By the Saloman-Lozano Treaty of 1922, Peru ceded to Colombia a "Corridor to the Amazon" at the tip of which is Leticia. However, the Treaty was kept in secret until the end of the Augusto B. Leguía dictatorship, and it was considered null and unequal by the new authorities under Sánchez.

By the end of September 1932, both Colombia and Peru were mobilizing men, money and munitions. On February 1933, at least three thousand Colombian troops with artillery and machine guns were deployed behind the Putumayo River, facing roughly equal Peruvian military forces. At Peru's Military Aviation School near Lima, President Sánchez approvingly inspected a brand new fleet of Douglas combat planes, just arrived from the United States.

The Council of the League of Nations sent Lima an important telegram, in which Peru was commanded by the Council "to refrain from any intervention by force on Colombian territory and ... not hinder the Colombian authorities from the exercise of full sovereignty and jurisdiction in territory recognized by a treaty to belong to Colombia."

On April 30, 1933, while at Santa Beatriz racetrack in Lima, President Sánchez had just finished reviewing twenty thousand young recruits for Peru's undeclared war with Colombia, when Abelardo de Mendoza, a member of the suppressed APRA Party, shot him through the heart.

Parliament proceeded to choose General Oscar R. Benavides to succeed Sánchez as Provisional President. Benavides had already served a term as Provisional President in 1914.


  1. ^ George Washington University Seminar Conference on Hispanic American Affairs, James Fred Rippy, Alva Curtis Wilgus (1963). Argentina, Brazil and Chile Since Independence. Russell & Russell. p. 11.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ El primer mestizo que llegó al poder
  3. ^ El escritor Mario Vargas Llosa, piurano por adopción, dice al respecto en sus memorias: «La leyenda inventó que el general Sánchez Cerro —dictador que fundó la UR y que fue asesinado por un aprista el 30 de abril de 1933— había nacido en La Mangachería y por eso todos los mangaches eran urristas, y todas las cabañas de barro y caña brava de ese barrio de calles de tierra y lleno de churres y piajenos (como se llama a los niños y a los burros en la jerga piurana) lucían bailoteando en las paredes alguna descolorida imagen de Sánchez Cerro.» (El pez en el agua, 1993, pág. 27).
Political offices
Preceded by
Fernando Sarmiento
Prime Minister of Peru
Succeeded by
Antonio Beingolea
Preceded by
Manuel Ponce
Interim President of Peru (President of the Provisional Government Junta)
August 1930 – March 1931
Succeeded by
Ricardo Leoncio Elías
Preceded by
David Samanez
President of Peru
December 1931 – April 1933
Succeeded by
Oscar R. Benavides