History of Venezuela

Pre-Perez Jimenez

Human habitation of Venezuela could have commenced at least 15,000 years ago from which period leaf-shaped tools, together with chopping and plano-convex scraping implements, have been found exposed on the high riverine terraces of the Rio Pedregal in western Venezuela. Late Pleistocene hunting artifacts, including spear tips, have been found at a similar series of sites in northwestern Venezuela known as "El Jobo"; according to radiocarbon dating, these date from 13,000 to 7,000 BC.

Venezuela was first colonized by Spain in 1522 in what is now Cumaná. These portions of eastern Venezuela were incorporated into New Andalusia. Administered by the Audiencia of Santo Domingo since the early 16th century, most of Venezuela became part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in the early 18th century, and was then reorganized as an autonomous Captaincy General starting in 1776.

In the 16th century, during the Spanish colonization, indigenous peoples such as many of the Mariches, themselves descendants of the Caribs rejected paganism and embraced Roman Catholicism. Some Spaniards treated the natives

Battle of Carabobo

harshly. Indian caciques(leaders) such as Guaicaipuro and Tamanaco attempted to resist Spanish incursions, but were ultimately defeated; Tamanaco was put to death by order of Caracas' founder Diego de Losada.

After a series of unsuccessful uprisings, Venezuela—under the leadership of Francisco de Miranda, a Venezuelan marshal who had fought in the American Revolution and the French Revolution—declared independence on 5 July 1811. This began the Venezuelan War of Independence. However, a devastating earthquake that struck Caracas in 1812, together with the rebellion of the Venezuelan llaneros, helped bring down the first Venezuelan republic. A second Venezuelan republic, proclaimed on 7 August 1813, lasted several months before being crushed as well.

Sovereignty was only attained after Simón Bolívar, aided by José Antonio Páez and Antonio José de Sucre, won the Battle of Carabobo on 24 June 1821.José Prudencio Padilla and Rafael Urdaneta's victory in the Battle of Lake Maracaibo on 24 July 1823, helped seal Venezuelan independence. New Granada's congress gave Bolívar control of the Granadian army; leading it, he liberated several countries and founded Gran Colombia.

Sucre, who won many battles for Bolívar, went on to liberate Ecuador and later become the second president of Bolivia. Venezuela remained part of Gran Colombia until 1830, when a rebellion led by Páez allowed the proclamation of a newly independent Venezuela; Páez became the first president of the new republic. Two decades of warfare had cost the lives of between a quarter and a third of the Venezuelan population, which in 1830 numbered no more than 800,000.
Simón Bolívar 2

Simon Bolivar, liberator of Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, and Peru

Much of Venezuela's nineteenth century history was characterized by political turmoil and dictatorial rule. During the first half of the 20th century, caudillos (military strongmen) continued to dominate, though they generally allowed for mild social reforms and promoted economic growth. Following the death of Juan Vicente Gómez in 1935 and the demise of caudillismo (authoritarian rule), pro-democracy movements eventually forced the military to withdraw from direct involvement in national politics in 1958. Since that year, Venezuela has had a series of democratically elected governments.

The discovery of massive oil deposits during World War I prompted an economic boom that lasted into the 1980s; by 1935, Venezuela's per capita gross domestic product was Latin America's highest. After World War II the globalization and heavy immigration from Southern Europe (mainly from Spain, Italy, Portugal) and poorer Latin American countries markedly diversified Venezuelan society.

Pérez Jiménez dictatorship

Marcos Evangelista Pérez Jiménez was born in Michelena, Táchira State. His father, Juan Pérez Bustamante, was a farmer; his mother, Adela Jiménez, a schoolteacher. Pérez Jiménez attended school in his home town and in Colombia, and in 1934, he graduated from the Academia Militar de Venezuela, at the top of his class. He subsequently studied at
Perez Jimenez

Perez Jimenez

military colleges in Peru.

In 1945, Pérez Jiménez participated in a coup that helped install left wing Democratic Action party founder, Rómulo Betancourt, as President of the Revolutionary Government Junta. After a constitutional change providing universal suffrage, elections were held in 1947 which resulted in the election of party member, Romulo Gallegos. Fears of cuts in pay for military men, reduction and lack of modernization of army equipment led Pérez Jiménez and Lt. Colonel Carlos Delgado Chalbaud to stage another coup in 1948 (Chalbaud has always been incorrectly referred to by his father's last names. Carlos Chalbaud's name was Carlos Roman Chalbaud Gomez). Betancourt and Gallegos were exiled, political parties were suppressed, and the Communist Party was once again banished by the Military Junta headed by Delgado Chalbaud, and included Pérez Jiménez. After a clumsily arranged kidnapping that ended in the murder of Delgado Chalbaud, the Military Junta changed its name to a Government Junta, and reorganized itself with Pérez Jiménez pulling the string of puppet President, Germán Suárez Flamerich. Results of the much anticipated 1952 elections were showing signs of rejection of the military government; it is widely believed that the junta fixed the results to show Pérez Jiménez as the winner.

The junta called an election for 1952. When early results showed that the opposition leader was ahead and would win, the junta suspended the election and made Pérez provisional president on the 2nd of December, 1952. He became president on the 19th of April, 1953. Soon afterward, he enacted a constitution that gave him dictatorial powers.

Pérez Jiménez (widely known as "P.J.") changed the name of the country, which had been "United States of Venezuela" since 1864, to "Republic of Venezuela". This name would remain until today

During his government, Pérez Jiménez undertook many infrastructure projects, including construction of roads, bridges, government buildings, large public housing complexes and the symbolic Humboldt Hotel overlooking Caracas. The economy of Venezuela developed rapidly during his term. Like most dictators, Pérez was not tolerant of criticism and his government ruthlessly pursued and suppressed the opposition. Opponents of his regime were painted as communists and often treated brutally. While Pérez was president of Venezuela, the government of the United States awarded him the U.S. Legion of Merit.

Pérez Jiménez, unlike most Venezuelans, received a thorough education from the military academies he had attended and graduated from with highest honors. By the time he came to power, Pérez Jiménez had developed a flair for fascist opulence and boasting about his projects in making Venezuela the major power of South America. The greatest of Venezuelan writers at the time (and for a long time after that) was Arturo Uslar Pietri and he became famous on television with analytical biographies of great historical figures. Uslar Pietri had a felicitous phrase: “Sow the oil”, which became a national slogan meaning that the state’s oil income should be productively invested. But in Venezuela “sowing the oil” implied “sowers” and the country did not have too many of these. In fact, it was the undeclared understanding that “sowing the oil” really meant “give Venezuelans employment by creating government jobs”.

He was a megalomaniac of much character that when a Time magazine interviewer asked him what Rome’s greatest legacy was, he said, : “Its ruins”, apparently wanting to give the impression that while the ruins of Rome were all that remained of its greatness, his own will surpass them with his grand-scale building projects.
Torres del Silencio

Simon Bolivar Towers

The other reason for Pérez Jiménez’s "ruins revelation" was that what he intended to do as president, apart from becoming rich, which he did, like Gomez, with his own military and civilian cronies, was to build and build and build, and here too he was undeniably successful.

With the purpose of World War II and of the Spanish War Civil many European and Arabs with the necessity to leave their homes in search of freedom. They wanted to find a new horizon, others to evade the hunger and many looked for a place where to remake their lives. And a calm Venezuela, where a planned growth was developed, in the construction of great infrastructures, an expansion of the internal market and the agricultural modernization embarked mainly to a large extent towards Venezuela. They find a perfect ground to forget the war and to take roots. Thus they were arriving Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Bulgarian, Germans, Hungarian, Dutch, Syrians, Lebanese and Russian, among others colonies of Europe devastated by the extreme hunger and the War. Between all the groups of colonies of Italian the most numerous Emigrants they were the one of, the Spanish, and Portuguese. The 3 shared similar reasons to leave their nations: the flight of a dictatorial regime, the atrocities of the postwar period, the Hunger, the unemployment and the search of so yearned for economic stability. The majority arrived in boat at the port of the Guaira in the Venezuelan Caribbean. According to archives of the Arquidiocesana Office of Caracas, between 1951 and 1958 the 200,000 Galicians and Canarians arrived at the country, who were inserted in offices like agriculture, carpentry, masonry and public transport. After the first stage of adaptation, many became small industralists dedicated to the commerce, the finances and the industry, mainly in the metallurgical one and manufactures. Venezuela needed agriculturists. A deficit of production of 55 thousand annual tons of sugar existed and of 50 thousand tons of rice, among others products, and were required to cover the demand with internal production. In addition, it increased the operation oil, reason why many Venezuelans left the field to dedicate themselves to the lucrative activity in the cities, and this emptiness was profiteer by the immigrants. The same happened in the construction, sector in which also found a niche of important market. Each colony went dedicating itself to one " speciality" related to the activities that were developed in their country of origin. He was as well as the Galicians dedicated themselves to produce vegetables, the canarians to the banana commerce and Italian on sale of meat and the other foods, Dutch and the Germans to inlays and cheeses, the Portuguese to the bread and milk. Later, many of them were transformed into retailers, Today calculates that 72 percent of the bakeries in Venezuela are in Portuguese hands. At the end of the 50s the Francoism Spain crossed one of its worse economic crises. The life became more difficult and new explosions took place. Hundreds of Spaniards of ages that oscillated between the 16 and 45 years filled the warehouses of the boats towards America, and especially towards the most promising destiny: Oil Venezuela, the Earth of the Dorado. In all the cases, workers, day laborers of the field and on the sector of the construction. It was the manpower that needed the Government general Marcos Perez-Jiménez for the transformation of the country that was undertaken decidedly in those years.

Pérez Jiménez also had an efficient secret police, but the stories about tortures and killings were, like those about Gomez, mainly inventions by the frustrated Accion Democratica, although whoever in Venezuela tried to be active clandestinely was sure to be either imprisoned or shot if he resisted.

Pérez Jiménez was up for reelection in 1957, but dispensed with these formalities. Instead, he held a plebiscite in which voters could only choose between voting "yes" or "no" to another term for the president. Predictably, Pérez Jiménez won by a large margin, though by all accounts the count was blatantly rigged.

Carolyn lowrey-macuto-sheraton-1964-large

a poster of tge Macuto-Sheraton Hotel

On the last day of 1957, a military uprising coordinated by officers of air and tank forces struck, but the coordination was not that good. The air force rebels flew over Caracas and dropped randomly some bombs while a commander started out from Maracay with a column of tanks. Somehow the signals got crossed, the tanks turned back, and the pilots fled the country. These officers probably thought that Pérez Jiménez would turn tail in the face of this demonstration, but the bulk of the armed forces remained loyal. However, this show of defiance did set off a sequence of events which eventually made Pérez Jiménez fear for his political survival, so he crated a new subdivision of the secret police which mission was to crush coups de'etat. The underground civilian opponents started goading the people in Caracas, where they needed little goading and were out in the streets whenever and wherever they could. The repressive secret police rounded up all civilian and military suspects.

In 1958, the Guaicamacuto Hotel was founded in the coast, at La Guaria, in 1960 the Hotel would be bought by Sheraton and renamed Macuto-Sheraton .


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In February 1992, an unsuccessful coup attempt occurred with Hugo Chavez as leader, he was taken to prison and executed.

In November 1992, another unsuccessful coup attempt occurred, organized by groups loyal to Chávez remaining in the armed forces. Most of this soldiers were jailed or executed including Chavez.

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