Venezuela: key historical events

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See also South America (other individual South American States also linked from here)


Graphic of Latin America 2010-19 socio-political


7/3/2019, An extended power outage lasting for several days hit Venezuela.

4/3/2019, Juan Guaido returned to Venezuela. He was not arrested by Maduro.

28/1/2019, The US Government announced sanctions on Venezuela’s State-owned oil company, PDVSA. This move was intended to restrict the oil revenues of President Nicolas Maduro, and strengthen the opposition led by Juan Guaido. The ultimate aim was to force an election in Venezuela. Under the sanctions, companies can continue to trade but payments are held in an account that is blocked to Maduro.

23/1/2019, Venezuela teetered in the brink of civil war as crowds demonstrated in favour of Juan Guido, who they held had won the recent elections. However the incumbent President, Nicolas Maduro, refused to relinquish power. The US, along with the UK, France, Germany and rightist countries in South America, including Brazil, demanded that Maduro call new elections within 8 days, or else they would recognise Guido, not Maduro, as President.

Venezuela, despite being oil-rich, has suffered economic catastrophe and deep poverty since Hugo Chavez became leader in 1998. Chavez took on a country that, although overall middle-income, was plagued by severe inequality. Chavez drove through a ‘Bolivarian Revolution’, using oil money to bypass Parliament and enforce, from 1999, a new Constitution. However Chavez died of cancer in 2013 and was succeeded by his Foreign Minister, Nicolas Maduro. Meanwhile by 2010 Venezuelan reforms had begun to stall as the world oil price fell, and the lack of democratic accountability fostered inefficiency and corruption. Furthermore, Maduro lacked the charisma of Chavez; he compensated for this by stifling dissent and packing government functions, including the judiciary, with his own supporters. Maduro also cancelled reforms he disliked, such as the freeing of political prisoners.

In May 2018, in an attempt to consolidate his power, Maduro called Presidential elections; these were dismissed by the US, the UN, the EU and the Organisation of American States as being rigged. Most Venezuelans are believed to back Guido; however the Army is still behind Maduro (although there have been a few minor military mutinies). Military leaders still (2019) control key sectors including mining, oil, and food distribution. Russia supports Maduro, in a country just three hours flying time from Miami, but there may be a US clandestine presence also in Venezuela.

21/8/2018, Venezuela, in the grip of hyperinflation, introduced a new ‘Sovereign Bolivar’ at a rate of 1 to 100,000 old Bolivars. Venezuelans were limited to withdrawing just 10 Sovereign Bolivars a day, worth about 12p. A cup of coffee cost 25 Sovereign Bolivars at this time. The Venezuelan Minimum Wage, which stood at 3 million Bolivars (30 Sovereign Bolivars), was on 24/8/2018 raised 60x to 1,800 Sovereign Bolivars, equivalent to 30 US$.

5/2018, Maduro won a second term as President. However the election was boycotted by the opposition, and tainted by accusations of vote-rigging.

3/2017, Protests against Maduro’s plans for a ‘constituent assembly;, with powers to overrule the opposition-controlled Parliament.

12/2015, An opposition coalition gained control of Parliament, ending 16 uears of control by the Socialist Party

4/2013, A month after Hugo Chavez died, Maduro was elected President by a narrow margin. The election result was disputed.

2006, Hugo Chavez won the Presidential elections.

1998, Hugo Chavez, a former army officer, was elected President of Venezuela, defeating the Social Christian Party. Chavez was a leftist, admirer of Fidel Castro, and chose Maduro to succeed him.

23/12/1997, Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal was sentenced to life imprisonment, after being arrested in Sudan.

1993, Andres Perez was ousted on charges of corruption. Caldera Rodriguez was relected,as social unrest grew.

4/2/1992, Venezuelan Lieutenant-Colonel Hugo Chavez, originating from a poor background, founded the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement (MRB). Named after Venezuela’s independence hero, Simon Bolivar, the MRB sought to overthrow the Venezuelan Government. On this day MRB-affiliated Army units entered Caracas and attempted a coup. However at the end of a day the coup had failed and Chavez was in prison. Nevertheless, the coup attempt made Chavez a folk hero amongst the poor and he went on to win the Presidential election of 1998.

3/3/1990, Venezuela suspended foreign debt repayments following widespread rioting.

28/2/1989, Venezuelan President Peres faced food riots as prices rose; 1,500 died in Caracas food riots, and martial law was declared. The poor were suffering under an austerity programme.

1988, Carlos Andrfes Peres, Democratic Action Party, won elections. Venezuela was forced to take out an IMF loan, entailing austerity measures.

1983, Jaime Lusinchi, Democratic Action Party, won elections. The world oil p[rice fell sharply, and welfare spending was cut, causing social unrest.

1978, The Social Christian Party won elections. Lui Herrera Campins pursued disastrous economic policies.

1973, Venezuela nationalised its oil and steel industries.

1969, Rafael Caldera Rodriguez, Social Christian Party, became President. He continued the policies of Raul Leoni.

1966, Unsuccesful coup attempt by supporters of the former President, Perez Jimenez.

1963, Raul Leoni was elected President for the Democratic Action Party; first ever democratic transfer of power in Venezuela.

1962, Left-wing guerrillas attempted a ‘Cuban-style’ revolution in Venezuela, but failed to gain popular support.

1/1/1976, Venezuela nationalised its oil industry.

2/7/1961, Venezuelan President Romulo Betancourt laid the foundation stone of the new city of Sao Tome de Guyana, describing it as “The future Ruhr of Venezuela”.

1960, Venezuela became a founder-member of OPEC.

1959, Romulo Betancourt was inaugurated as President of Venezuela.

23/1/1958, Major rebellion against Jimenez’s rule in Venezuela. There was a General Strike, and the armed forces turned against Jimenez. He fled to the USA with some US$ 200 million of State money, but was extradited to Venezuela in 1963, where he was sentenced to 4 years in prison. Admiral Larrazabal became leader in a military coup. An anti-Communist campaign began.

1957, Following a dubious plebiscite, Jimenez declared himself President for a further five years.

1952, Following the military coup of 1948, General Marcos Perez Jimenez became dictator in Venezuela. Political opponents were imprisoned, tortured and murdered by the feared National Security Police. The oress was censored and universities closed down. Oil revenue was diverted from health and education to build huge unnecesdsary public works

1948, Military coup in Venezuela, ending a period of democracy that began in 1945.

18/12/1935, President Gomez of Venezuela died, aged 78. He had been dictator for 26 years, over which period Venezuela had be come a major oil producer.

14/12/1922, Royal Dutch Shell struck oil near Lake Maracaibo.

19/12/1909, Juan Gomez seized power in Venezuela. He later developed the oil industry, and Venezuela became a major oil producer.

1902, Venezuela defaulted on repayments on loans taken out to pay for infrastructure improvements. Its ports were blockaded by British, Italian and German warships in response,

1900, Venezuelan involvement in Colombian civil conflict, See Colombia

1870, Antonio Guzman Blanco came to power. He began a new railway system, also develoiping agriculture and education.

1830, Gran Colombia disintegrated. Jose Antonio Paez ruled Venezuela, with control effectively by the coffee-growers.

30/8/1821, Simon Bolivar was named President of Venezuela.

24/6/1821, Simon Bolivar defeated a Spanish army at Carabobo, Venezuela.

1819, A congress at Angostura established Gran Colombia, which included Venezuela, Gran Colombia (Colombia and Panama) and Ecuador.

1816, Simon Bolivar returned to Venezuela, and set up a capital at Angostura (now called Ciudad Bolivar).

1/1/1814, Simon Bolivar became President of Venezuela.

6/8/1813. Simon Bolivar marched into Caracas, Venezeula. However he was ousted by Spanish forces in 1814.

5/7/1811, Venezuela proclaimed its independence from Spain. Venezuela took advantage of Napoleon’s occupation of Spain. However Spain regained control in 1812.

1806, Simon Bolivar began the War of Liberation against Spain. This lasted until 1821, by which time 25% of the venezualen population had died.

24/7/1783, Simon Bolivar, South American revolutionary and liberator of South America from Spanish colonial rule, was born in Caracas, capital of Venezuela.

1777, Venezuela became a Captaincy-Geneeral within the Spanish Vice-Royalty of New Granada.

1567, Caracas was founded, as Santiago de Leon de Caracas, by Diego de Losada.

8/9/1529, The city of Maracaibo, Venezuela, was founded by Ambrosius Ehinger.

1498, Christopher Columbus sighted the delta of the Orinoco River, eastern Venezuela.


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