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Betancourt, Rómulo (1908–81)

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


Provisional President (1945–7) and President (1959–64) of Venezuela. He took part in student protests against the dictatorship of General Gomez in 1928 and in the abortive April rebellion, after which he escaped to Colombia. Back in Venezuela in 1941 he founded Democratic Action (AD), a radical party which, in alliance with young army officers, led the coup in 1945 which began the period known as the trienio . As Provisional President and head of the seven-man ruling junta, he increased taxes on the rich and did a deal with foreign oil companies which gave the government 50 per cent of their profits. A new constitution in 1947 provided for a secret ballot and the vote for all over 18, including illiterates. The first direct elections in Venezuela were held the same year and gave AD a landslide victory but the short democratic episode came to an end in 1948 with another military coup, which resulted in ten more years of dictatorship. Betancourt again went into exile. After the 1958 revolution which brought down the military dictatorship, Betancourt returned to Venezuela. He and the leader of the Social Christian Party (COPEI), Rafael Caldera, made the pact of Punto Fijo, which is seen as ending the cycle of military coups. Divisive issues were removed from the political agenda and support for a common programme of reforms agreed. The first presidential candidates committed themselves ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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