Venezuela History

By | January 8, 2023

Venezuela – national flag

Venezuela National Flag

The flag in its current form was officially adopted in 1954, but originates from the flag hoisted in 1806 by Francisco de Miranda (see also Colombia (national flag)). The colors white, blue, red and yellow today represent the populations of whites, blacks, people of African-European descent and Indians. The stars, one for each of the original provinces, were first used in 1817. The number of stars has varied.

  • Countryaah: What does the flag of Venezuela look like? Follow this link, then you will see the image in PNG format and flag meaning description about this country.

Venezuela – history

Before the Spanish colonization, the land was inhabited by peoples belonging to different language and cultural groups in resp. the coastal region, the Andes Mountains, the Highlands of Guyana and the Amazon.

According to a2zgov, Christoffer Columbus reached the eastern part of Venezuela’s coast in 1498, where the possibility of pearl fishing in 1510 led to a Spanish settlement on the island of Cubagua and soon after on the nearby Margarita. Around 1520, the construction of a fortress near the later port city of Cumaná on the continent followed. The Spanish possessions expanded during the 1500’s. to the valleys of the central coastal area and the Andes, and the indigenous peoples were overcome and integrated into colonial society as labor on plantations. Cocoa, indigo, tobacco, cotton and other tropical crops, along with cattle ranching, formed the economic basis of the colony. African slaves were used on the plantations along the coast.

  • AbbreviationFinder: Check three-letter abbreviation for each country in the world, such as VZS which represents the official name of Venezuela.

The areas west of Lake Maracaibo, the highlands to the SW and the rainforest to the south were for centuries only slightly affected by the Spanish presence. Venezuela area belonged administratively attached to the Audiencia of Santo Domingo. From 1739 it came under the Viceroyalty of New Granada with capital of Bogotá, but in connection with the Spanish Crown’s efforts to make the administration more efficient, a local audience was established in 1786 in Caracas.

The era of independence

Around 1800, there was some dissatisfaction in the economic elite with the colonial power’s monopoly on trade and political administration, but the fear of losing control of the majority of the population, especially the slaves, limited the desire for independence. This changed with Napoleon’s invasion of Spain and the ouster of the Spanish king in 1808. France failed to assert its authority in the colonies, and therefore in 1810 the city council of Caracas declared the colony self-governing, and the following year the Republic of Venezuela was proclaimed. This was followed by a ten-year civil war between the Republican rebels and the royalists who were loyal to the Spanish throne. After the defeat of Napoleon, the Spanish king was reinstated in 1814 and had some success in recapturing the lost territories of America.

However, the ability of local landowner and officer Simón Bolívar to lead the Republicans, attract British auxiliary troops, and reconcile with the rebel settlers under José Antonio Páez led to new progress for the rebels. In 1819, the Republic of Colombia was proclaimed comprising the entire Viceroyalty of New Granada. The uprising against autocracy in Spain in 1820 weakened the royalists and enabled the republican victories in 1821. Subsequently, internal power struggles arose, and General Páez’s efforts to secede from Venezuela were completed in 1830.

Caudillism 1830-1935

José Antonio Páez became the first president of the Republic of Venezuela, and his strong military and personal power also secured him influence for a number of years after the end of his term. He is therefore considered the country’s first major caudillo. During the 1800’s. coffee became the country’s most important export, and foreign trade slipped into foreign, especially British, hands. Independence did not bring about social change, and it was not until 1854 that slavery was finally abolished. Simultaneously with various caudilloers’ struggle for power in the country, a party system developed as in the other Spanish-American countries. It consisted of the centralist, Catholic conservatives vis-à-vis the liberals, who formally fought for a federal state and a restriction of the influence of the church. In practice, however, the parties became a simple path to power rather than an ideologically based system. The power struggles led several times to a state of war; the period 1859-63 is referred to as the Civil War.

The appointment of Antonio Guzmán Blanco (1829-99) as interim president in 1870 and his retention of power for 19 years became a high point in terms of personal assertiveness, earnings and the exercise of power. Growing foreign debt in the latter part of the 1800’s. led in 1902 under dictator Cipriano Castro (1859-1924) to the blockade of Venezuela’s main ports by Britain, Germany and Italy. The crisis was mitigated by the intervention of the United States in 1903, but in 1904 the European powers were upheld by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. Cipriano Castro’s vice president, Juan Vicente Gómez, took power in 1908. He established good relations abroad, but at the same time initiated another protracted and brutal dictatorship.

In the early 1900-t. began a systematic exploitation of the country’s oil wealth, and extensive foreign investment took place. Venezuela, however, was for a long time an agricultural country, and about 90% of the population was illiterate at the death of Juan Vicente Gómez in 1935.

Democratization from 1936

Now began a slow process of democratization, which led to local elections in 1945. That same year, a military coup paved the way for the inauguration of a new political government, led by the founder of the new Social Democratic Party Acción Democrática, Rómulo Betancourt. Presidential elections were held in 1947; the ruling party won big, and the author Rómulo Gallegosbecame in 1948 the country’s first elected president. A few months later another military coup took place; the new government banned the Acción Democrática, whose leaders went into exile. A military uprising in 1958 led to new elections, and Betancourt took office in 1959 as president. The new government implemented land reforms in 1960, but also came to face the challenge of radical guerrilla groups operating in the country through the 1960’s. The 1968 election was won by Rafael Caldera (1916-2009) from the Christian Democratic Party COPEI (Comité Pro-Elecciones Independientes).

In 1960, Venezuela, together with Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, formed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC. The cooperation led to rising oil prices on the world market from 1973, and with that came a colossal prosperity for Venezuela.

Under Social Democrat President Carlos Andrés Pérez, the oil industry was taken over by the state in 1976, and major government investments were subsequently made in industry, construction and education, but part of the prosperity led to extensive luxury consumption of imported goods and a weakening of domestic production.. The state’s strong participation in the social economy and its significant share of export earnings led to the development of one of the capitalist world’s most developed planned economies with control of employment, production and prices through subsidization of goods and services.

The sharp fall in oil prices in the first half of the 1980’s brought Venezuela into a protracted economic and political crisis with social unrest and coup attempts. The government tried to maintain the economic role of the state, but with the election of Carlos Andrés Pérez, who was considered the miracle worker of the 1970’s, a privatization and liberalization program was launched from 1989. It met with massive resistance; in 1992, a coup attempt led by officer Hugo Chávez was thwarted, and the following year, Carlos Andrés Pérez was deposed on charges of corruption. The continuing economic problems led in 1998 to the election of Hugo Chávez, at the head of a newly formed protest movement, as president. Divisions within the movement have led to increased criticism of Chávez, but popular support remained significant.

Hugo Chávez, who took over the presidency in 1999, consolidated his position by being re-elected in 2000 with 59% of the vote, but his popularity then dropped drastically. He increased social budgets for the benefit of his core voters, the poor, but ran into headwinds as he tried in vain to seize power in the country’s largest union. The protests in the big cities grew as he decreed higher taxes in the oil sector and a major land reform. It led to general strikes and mass demonstrations, as well as a failed one-and-a-half-day coup attempt in April 2002. A politically weakened Chávez then promised to lead a more conciliatory line.

Hugo Chávez ‘still had a large part of the population against him; in 2004 there was a referendum on his policy which he however won by approximately 58% of the votes. International observers approved the vote. The opposition boycotted a parliamentary election in 2005, so all seats were filled by candidates who were positive about Chávez.

In foreign policy, Chávez increasingly distanced himself from the United States and sought to create a regional network of Latin American countries. He strengthened ties with a number of Caribbean countries, notably Cuba and its leader Fidel Castro, but also with Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Brazil. On the global stage, Venezuela gained closer ties to e.g. Russia and Iran.

In 2006, Hugo Chávez was elected president for the third time. It sparked international criticism when parliament in early 2007 gave Chávez the right to rule for 18 months. decree as part of the efforts to implement comprehensive nationalizations, in the energy sector.

Hugo Chávez has in several cases taken on the role of mediator in relation to the Colombian rebel movement FARC, and the release of six hostages in early 2008 was a propaganda victory for him.

A tense relationship with Colombia developed into a real diplomatic crisis after the Colombian military on Ecuadorian territory killed one of the FARC leaders.

In 2012, a then cancer-stricken Chávez won another term, but he died the following year. Vice President Nicolás Maduro then took over the presidency and promised to continue the policy of his predecessor. In the spring of 2014, there were protests against the government, which led to violent riots with 28 killed in Caracas.

The persistent dissatisfaction with the government, which did not prove able to solve problems around a very high rate of violent crime, a galloping inflation as well as major social problems, resulted in December 2015 in a landslide victory for the opposition in the parliamentary elections. During the continuing economic crisis, in 2016 the Maduro government launched measures such as a two-day working week for public employees, devaluation, raised petrol prices and decreed that all public or private employees in the country could be discharged for two months’ work in the food sector.