chapter
Venezuela
Pages 7

Larrazábal. 30 October 1958: The corruption and oppression of Gen. Pérez’s regime led the previously antagonistic political parties to form the Pact of Punto Fijo. The Pact committed AD and COPEI to share positions in the state administration, to respect the outcome of democratic elections and to control their respective constituencies. 7 December 1958: The AD candidate, Rómulo Betancourt, won the presidential election with 47% of the votes cast. Adm. Larrazábal had resigned from the Navy the previous month to participate in the election. February 1959: Betancourt was inaugurated as President. He was to prove the first constitutionally elected President to complete a full five-year term of office. 10-14 September 1960: The first conference of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was held in Baghdad, Iraq, with representatives from Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela in attendance. 23 January 1961: A new Constitution was promulgated which guaranteed a wide range of civil liberties and created a bicameral legislature. 1962-63: A guerrilla group, the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN) sabotaged petroleum pipelines and bombed the US embassy in Caracas. 1 December 1963: Dr Raúl Leoni, of the AD, was elected President with 32.8% of the votes cast. In concurrently-held legislative elections the AD won the largest number of seats in both Houses of Congress but failed to gain an overall majority in either. Leoni was inaugurated on 11 March 1964. 30 October 1966: Supporters of former President Gen. Pérez participated in an abortive military uprising. 1 December 1968: Caldera Rodríguez was elected President, receiving 29.1% of the votes cast. He was inaugurated in March 1969. June 1970: The Port of Spain Protocol was signed in Trinidad by the foreign ministers of Venezuela and Guyana. Under the terms of the agreement, Venezuela agreed not to assert any claim to sovereignty over a large area of Guyana to the west of the Essequibo river, to which Venezuela had, since 1962, repeatedly laid claim. 9 December 1973: Carlos Andrés Pérez Rodríguez of the AD was elected President, receiving 48.6% of the votes cast in a presidential election. In concurrent congressional elections the AD attained absolute majorities in both Houses of Congress. Pérez assumed office on 11 March 1974. 3 December 1978: The presidential election was won by COPEI leader, Dr Luis Herrera Campíns, who received 46.6% of the votes cast. The candidates from the two main political parties secured almost 90% of the total presidential ballot-the AD candidate, Luís Piñerúa Ordaz, won 43.3%. In congressional elections COPEI and AD won an equal number of seats in the Chamber of Deputies and in the Senate. Campíns was inaugurated in March 1979. 1981: A deteriorating economic situation provoked social unrest and a succession of guerrilla attacks. 4 December 1983: Dr Jaime Lusinchi of the AD was elected President with 56.8% of the

drugs-smugglers, were killed by units of the Venezuelan army at Guafitas, near the town of El Amparo. The massacre provoked protests and rioting erupted in several cities. A group of 20 soldiers who were arrested in connection with the killings were subsequently released on the ruling of a military court. 4 December 1988: The former President, Carlos Andrés Pérez Rodríguez, was re-elected with 52.9% of the votes cast. The COPEI candidate received 40.4%. In congressional elections the AD lost its overall majority. February 1989: Following Pérez’s inauguration at the beginning of the month, a series of adjustments were implemented, designed to halt Venezuela’s economic decline. These measures, which included increases in the prices of petrol and public transport, provoked rioting throughout the country. The Government introduced a curfew and suspended various constitutional rights in order to quell the disturbances; official sources claimed that some 246 people had died during the protests. March 1989: The curfew was revoked, and all constitutional rights were restored, after wages had been increased and the prices of some basic goods were ‘frozen’. 28 March 1989: An agreement was reached with Colombia on the establishment of a border commission to negotiate a settlement concerning a territorial dispute over the maritime boundaries in the Gulf of Venezuela. December 1989: The first direct elections for state governorships were characterized by a high degree of abstention and significant gains by left-wing parties, which had campaigned energetically against corruption allegedly rife in the main political parties. March 1990: The Presidents of Venezuela and Colombia signed the ‘San Pedro Alejandro’ document, by which they pledged to implement the border commission’s proposals. 20 November 1990: Clashes between demonstrators and the security forces, during protests against the Government’s economic policies, resulted in several fatalities. January 1992: President Pérez gave recognition to Colombia’s claims to territorial rights in the Gulf of Venezuela. 4 February 1992: An attempt to overthrow the President by rebel army units, identified as members of the Movimiento Revolucionario Bolivariano 200 (MRB-200), was defeated by armed forces loyal to the Government. Simultaneous rebel action in the cities of Macay, Maracaíbo and Valencia ended when the leader of the coup d’état, Lt-Col Hugo Chávez Frías, broadcast an appeal for their surrender. A number of constitutional guarantees were immediately suspended, and press and television censorship was imposed to exclude coverage of Chávez, who had received considerable passive popular support. 5 March 1992: President Pérez announced a series of political and economic reforms, including the introduction of legislation for immediate reform of the Constitution. In addition, increases in the price of petrol and electricity were suspended and price controls on a number of basic foodstuffs and on medicine were introduced. 10 March 1992: Two members of COPEI were appointed to the Council of Ministers in an effort to broaden the base of support for the Government.