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Stories: Timeline of Venezuelan History (English)

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Timeline of Venezuelan History (English) 07 Mar 2002
  • 1400s: Columbus first sighted Venezuela during his third voyage to the New World in 1498. Columbus first set foot on the mainland calling it the Isla de García. Huts built above the lake reminded Amerigo Vespucci of Venice leading him to name the discovery Venezuela.
  • 1500s: Petroleum was noticed, but it was useless and dubbed "the devil's excrement." The oyster beds between Cumaná and the Isla de Margarita were played out. Venezuela was governed alternately from the Audiencia de Santo Domingo and the Audiencia de Santa Fé de Bogotá. Germans governed Coro and El Tocuyo (south of Barquisimeto) until the tired of their search for a mountain of gold. Spanish explorers founded Valencia, and Diego de Losada established Santiago de León de Caracas.
  • 1600s: Missionaries explored the Río Unare, the Río Orinoco, and the Maracaibo Basin, and Cocoa (chocolate) became Venezuela's principal export.
  • 1700s: The Caracas Company was founded. Juan Francisco de León led a rebellion against the Caracas Company. Francisco de Miranda (furture revolutionary) was born in Caracas of wealthy Creole parents. Brigadier General Felipe Ricardos was governor of Caracas. Caracas was given authority as the seat of the Captaincy General of Venezuela. Simón Bolívar Palacios (future liberator) was born in Caracas to an aristocratic Creole family. Caracas was given authority as the Audiencia de Venezuela.
  • The Quest for Independence
  • 1806: Miranda led an expedition expecting a popular uprising.
  • 1808: Napoleon invaded Spain.
  • 1810/04/19: the Caracas cabildo (city council) refused to recognize Napoleon’s authority.
  • 1810: Bolívar persuaded Miranda to lead a second insurrectionary effort.
  • 1810: Napoleon granted his brother, Joseph, the Spanish throne.
  • 1811/07/05: Venezuela became the first colony to declare independence from Spain.
  • 1811/12/21: A constitution marked the official beginning of Venezuela's First Republic.
  • 1812/03: A major earthquake devastated pro-independence strongholds.
  • 1812/07/25: Miranda surrendered his troops to General Domingo Monteverde.
  • 1813: Bolívar captured Caracas and was proclaimed "The Liberator.”
  • 1814/09: José Tomás Boves forced Bolívar and his army out of Caracas.
  • 1814: Boves was killed in battle,.
  • 1814: Ferdinand VII regained the Spanish throne.
  • 1814: José Antonio Páez lead his fellow llaneros against the Spanish.
  • 1814: Manuel Piar was executed by Bolívar, who became the "maximum caudillo."
  • 1816: Miranda died in a Spanish prison.
  • 1819: Bolivar established the Third Republic at Angostura (present-day Ciudad Bolívar)
  • 1820: King Ferdinand lost the political will to recover the rebellious American colonies.
  • 1821/06: Bolívar liberated Caracas at the Battle of Carabobo.
  • 1821/08: Bolívar established the Republic of Gran Colombia, with its capital in Bogotá.
  • 1829: General Páez led Venezuela in its separation from Gran Colombia.
  • 1830/12: Bolívar died friendless and in exile.
  • 1840s: Coffee prices plunged, and the Liberals fought against Páez. Slavery was abolished. Páez selected the liberal General José Tadeo Monagas as his successor. Monagas sent Páez into exile and shared power with his brother, José Gregorio.
  • 1850s: The Monagas brothers attempt to install a Monagas family dynasty. The Monagas brothers were ousted in a revolt by elite members of both parties
  • 1860s: The Liberal General Juan C. Falcón was named president.
  • 1870s: Antonio Guzmán Blanco restored central government authority.
  • 1880s: Rioting by university students in Caracas convinced Guzmán to remain in Paris.

  • 1890s: General Joaquín Crespo spent most of its energies fighting to remain in power until he was killed. General Cipriano Castro marched on Caracas and assumed the vacant presidency.
  • 1900s:: The Dutch seized a port and destroyed part of Venezuela's tiny navy. Juan Vicente Gómez overthrew General Cipriano Castro while he was in Europe.
  • 1910s: The foreign exploitation of Venezuela's petroleum reserves began.
  • 1920s: Jóvito Villalba a student at the Central University of Venezuela and a Marxist was arrested for the first time.
  • 1930s: The petroleum industry gradually left control of foreign firms and came under the government's authority. Juan Vicente Gómez died of natural causes at age seventy-nine. Minister of war, General López was selected as Gómez's successor. A highly effective general strike led López to reverse reforms. Jóvito Villalba, revived the Marxist- oriented Venezuelan Student Federation. López outlawed the labor unions.
  • 1940s: Isaías Medina Angarita replaced López. Communism becomes legal as a political party. German submarines played havoc with tankers transporting Venezuela's oil. New laws resulted in substantially increased oil revenues. Construction activity boomed during the waning years of the war. Colonel Delgado conspired to overthrow Medina promising to pursue "social justice and better conditions for the workers.” Diógenes Escalante, a liberal civilian replaced Medina. Betancourt decreed universal suffrage for all citizens over eighteen. Rómulo Gallegos, Venezuela's most renowned author, became president. Gallegos signed a land reform bill pitting the landowners against him. Colonels Delgado, Pérez and Luis Felipe Llovera Páez overthrew Gallegos.
  • 1950s: Colonel Delgado was assassinated. Colonel Pérez ordered the election halted and declared himself president. The opposition organized the Patriotic Junta dedicated to overthrowing Pérez. Air force planes dropped bombs on the capital, The Patriotic Junta demonstrated in downtown Caracas. The Patriotic Junta called for a general strike. Admiral Wolfgang Larrazábal led the navy revolt. Pérez fled the country. Betancourt was elected president. Political pacts excluded the extreme left.
  • 1960s: Students for a revolutionary leftist movement. President Bentancourt denounces Trujillo of the Domincan Republic and Castro of Cuba. Leftist officers instigated uprisings at Carúpano on the Península de Paria and Puerto Cabello and sabotaged oil pipelines. President Raúl Leoni elected in 1963. Leftists bombed a Sears Roebuck warehouse and the US Embassy in Caracas. The government arrested all PCV and MIR congressmen. The military discovered a cache of arms from Castro on a stretch of beach. An attempted military coup d'état was swiftly put down. Leoni ordered a search of Central University for leftist revolutionaries. A landing party headed by a Cuban officer was captured in Miranda. President Caldera (COPEI) replaced Leoni (AD).
  • 1970s: The Arab-Israeli War triggered a quadrupling of crude oil prices. Carlos Andrés Pérez was elected to his first term. Congress approved a bill nationalizing the petroleum industry. Venezuela's oil income leveled off. Luis Herrera Campinas was elected on a platform promising an austere posture toward fiscal concerns. Venezuela's oil income began to decline. In the municipal elections, the leftists groups captured 18.5% of the vote. The Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War caused oil prices to jump.
  • 1980s: Fluctuating oil prices trigger fiscal problems. In 1983, Ravard was forced out as head of PDVSA. Lusinchi (AD) easily defeated former president Caldera and reinstated Ravard. In 1989, Carlos Andres Perez (AD) was elected president against the background of economic depression, which necessitated an austerity program and an IMF loan. Social and political upheaval included riots (in which between 300 and 2,000 people are killed) martial law and a general strike.
  • 1990:
  • 1991:
  • 1992: Hugo Chavez led two failed coups attempt to overthrow the government of President Perez. About 120 people were killed.
  • 1993: Ramon Jose Velasquez served interim president after Perez is ousted on charges of corruption until Rafael Caldera was elected president.
  • 1994:
  • 1995:
  • 1996: Perez imprisoned after being found guilty of embezzlement and corruption.
  • 1997:
  • 1998: Chavez elected president, breaking the stranglehold of the party system.
  • 1999: Chavez became president.
  • 2000: Foreign Minister Jose Vicente Rangel discloses plot to kill Chavez. A constituent assembly drafted a new constitution. Chavez submitted himself for re-election in search of a mandate for wide-ranging reforms. Chavez wins another six years in office and the mandate to pursue political reforms. Chavez becomes the first foreign head of state to visit Iraq since the 1991 Gulf war, in defiance of strong opposition from the US.
  • 2001/12/11: Millions protest against Chavez's new land law that gives the government the power to expropriate large estates and agricultural land deemed to be unproductive.
  • 2002: Chavez is overthrown but regains control of the government after less than a day.
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