Venezuela History Part II

Venezuela History Part II

Gómez’s successor (1935) was General Eleazar López Contreras: moderate, he allowed the opposition to organize, authorizing the creation of the National Democratic Party, later renamed Democratic Action. In 1941 Isaías Medina Angarita ascended to the presidency, which aligned the country with the United States against the Axis and Japan. Meanwhile, opposition to internal authoritarianism grew: in 1945 Democratic Action led a revolt thanks to which he obtained elections by universal suffrage; two years later the writer Rómulo Gallegos, who carried out reforms in the agricultural and industrial fields, took over as president of the Republic. The conservatives and the military reacted: in 1948, with a coup, they overthrew Gallegos and restored authoritarianism. Until 1952 the powers were governed by a council; then, “at the behest of the armed forces”, Colonel Marcos Pérez Jiménez was proclaimed president, who ruled for 5 years and was then deposed.

The Giunta that replaced him, headed by Admiral W. Larrazábal, had the elections held on 7 December of the same year: the winner was R. Betancourt, presidential candidate of Democratic Action. At first his government tried to accelerate reforms, but then suffered reactionary involution, giving rise to protests and social upheavals. In various mountainous areas, guerrilla “fires” began to be lit. However, in December 1963 Democratic Action still managed to win the elections with the candidacy of R. Leoni. Five years later, however, success came to R. Caldera Rodríguez, leader of the COPEI (Comité de organización política electoral independiente), which became the acronym of the Social Christian Party. The situation did not substantially change. In December 1973 he returned to win Democratic Action: C. Andrés Pérez was the new President of the Republic. Two important measures were adopted by his decision: the resumption of diplomatic relations with Cuba, interrupted since 1962, and the nationalization of iron and oil. In 1978 it was COPEI that won the elections and the presidency passed into the hands of L. Herrera Campíns. To cope with the serious economic situation that arose after 1980, Campíns had to abandon the grandiose industrial programs set up by CA Pérez. In foreign policy, the president decided to reconnect with the United States, thus causing a sharp deterioration in relations with Cuba and Nicaragua sandinista. COPEI, due to the worsening of the internal situation, was defeated in the presidential elections of 1983, won by the candidate of Democratic Action, J. Lusinchi, considered the spiritual heir of the founder of the party Rómulo Betancourt (d. 1981). Finding himself facing an unprecedented economic crisis after the war, Lusinchi was unable to take incisive or adequate actions to the gravity of the moment. For the elections of December 1988 Democratic Action therefore nominated Carlos Andrés Pérez, former president in the years 1974-79, a much discussed figure for his involvement in a trial for embezzlement of public funds, but with great charisma. Having emerged victorious from the electoral confrontation, in February 1989 Pérez took office in the presence of all the heads of state of Latin America, to which he immediately proposed a joint action on the issue of foreign debt. Immediate was also the adoption of a severe austerity policy, which however provoked an extensive popular revolt in the capital (March 1989), with over 500 deaths, and the declaration of a state of siege. In this widespread unease, a group of soldiers, with a decent popular following, tried to seize power on two occasions (February and November 1992), but was reduced to impotence, with bloody clashes, by the forces loyal to the president. In May 1993, however, Pérez was accused of corruption and suspended from office. In his place he was appointed president ad interim R. Velásquez, who, upon confirmation of Pérez’s dismissal (September), assumed the presidency until the natural expiry of the mandate of his predecessor. In the subsequent elections (December 1993), the popular will decreed the victory of the elderly Caldera (former president of the Republic from 1969 to by a coalition of leftist and nationalist forces. Forced to face the very serious economic situation connected to the collapse of the country’s financial system, in 1994 Caldera decreed a state of emergency, suspending some constitutional guarantees, imposing exchange and price controls and proceeding, in 1995, with the devaluation of the currency. The liberalization of the oil sector, the the increase in the tax burden and the freeze on wages, while restoring some international credibility to Venezuela, which had obtained credits for 3 billion dollars in 1996, increased popular discontent. In the presidential elections of 1998 it was therefore necessary, supported by a left-wing coalition (the Patriotic Pole), Hugo Chávez, former paratrooper, author of a failed coup d’etat in 1992. As the first act of his government, inducing the desire to implement a process of democratization of the country’s political life, he announced in 1999 a referendum for the approval of a new Constitution, obtaining a majority of the consensus. Following this revision with a strongly Peronist flavor, on 15 December 1999 Venezuela took the name of República Bolivariana de Venezuela, according to indexdotcom, the Senate was abolished, the presidential term extended to six years and the possibility for the president to be re-elected was introduced.

Venezuela History 2

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