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The Americas

South American Colonial Settlements


Modern Venezuela
AD 1830 - Present Day

Located in South America, Venezuela borders the Greater and Lesser Antilles with Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago to the north, Guyana to the east, Brazil to the south, and Colombia to the west. Its capital is Caracas, while its official title is the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The coast of Venezuela was discovered by the Spanish sailor and governor of Hispaniola, Christopher Columbus, on his last mission of exploration in 1498. The region was incorporated into the New Kingdom of Granada, which was administered from Peru until 1717. Then it became part of the newly created viceroyalty of New Granada, and then its successor, Gran Colombia. Internal dissention led to several civil wars between the various rivals for the leadership of Gran Colombia's territories, and the state broke up in 1830. Ecuador and Venezuela both left, and the dissolution of Gran Colombia was made official on 21 November 1831 when Ecuador, New Granada (Colombia) and Venezuela all formed new republican governments.

Jose Antonio Paez, one of the compatriots of Simon Bolivar, became Venezuela's first president after leading the country out of Gran Colombia. Starting out as one of South America's most impoverished countries, Venezuela's subsequent history was rarely peaceful, being dominated by dictators and military figures until the middle of the twentieth century.

(Additional information from External Links: Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro claims election victory (The Week), and Venezuela: Maduro hits back at 'gringo plot to overthrow revolution' (The Guardian).)


The Revolution of the Reforms is led by Jose Tadeo Monagas to oust President Jose Maria Vargas, but the rebels are subsequently defeated by Jose Antonio Paez and Vargas returns to office.


Monagas, now in office himself, proclaims himself dictator and congress is disbanded. He begins what is sometimes referred to as the 'Monagas Dynasty', and becomes one of the country's most unpopular rulers.

Canaima National Park
Colonial building in Venezuela was relatively sparse, while Spain's main concentration was on the gold-rich regions to the west

1847 - 1851

Jose Tadeo Monagas


1851 - 1855

Jose Gregorio Monagas

Brother and dictator.

1855 - 1858

Jose Tadeo Monagas

Second term as dictator. Exiled in favour of an interim president.


Julian Castro

Ousted interim president. Imprisoned.

1858 - 1863

The Federal War (or the Five Year War, or even the Great War) is fought between the Monagas conservative party and the liberal party over the former's monopoly of land and official positions. The war kills many thousands, even though it consists of just three battles and a good deal of guerrilla warfare, but the Federalists win and establish a new government, replacing the man who has remained the power behind the presidential 'throne', Jose Antonio Paez.

1860 - 1863

Jose Antonio Paez

Dictator. Accepted exile.

1863 - 1865

Juan Crisostomo Falcon

Military general. Won subsequent elections in 1865.


Jose Tadeo Monagas returns from exile and overthrows the president in the Blue Revolution. He takes control and organises fresh elections which, as the strongest candidate, he is expected to win. Instead, at the age of eighty-three he dies off pneumonia before the elections can get underway. The rest of the century is a litany of presidential elections followed by revolutions and military takeovers.


Jose Tadeo Monagas

Third term as dictator. Died.

1870 - 1873

Antonio Guzmán Blanco

Military general who led a revolution.

1892 - 1898

Joaquin Sinforiano de Jesus Crespo

Military general who led a revolution and won 'election'.

1899 - 1908

Cipriano Castro Ruiz

Military general who led a revolution.

1908 - 1913

Juan Vicente Gomez

Military general who led a coup.

1917 - 1918

While some South American states openly declare for the allies in the First World War against Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire, Venezuela remains officially neutral, even though it is supplying the allies with oil from its massive reserves.

1922 - 1929

Juan Vicente Gomez

Military general who seized control.

1931 - 1935

Juan Vicente Gomez

Returned to power.


Venezuela joins the Second World War as an ally of the USA and Great Britain on 15 February 1945 against Japan and Germany.

1948 - 1950

Carlos Delgado Chalbaud

Military general who led a coup.

1952 - 1958

Marcos Perez Jimenez

Military general who manoeuvred himself into control.


An army paratrooper named Hugo Chavez stages an attempted coup which tries to overthrow the government of President Carlos Andres Perez. The coup fails and Chavez is imprisoned. In November of the same year, Chavez' supporters state another coup attempt which is equally unsuccessful. Chavez is acquitted two year later.


Failed revolutionary, Hugo Chavez, wins the elections to become president by more legal means. However, his term of office begins to resemble more and more the career of a dictator-for-life.

1998 - 2013

Hugo Chavez

Populist ex-military president and would-be dictator.


Hugo Chavez is himself deposed by a coup, although only for two days. Support by the military coupled with a widespread public show of disapproval at the coup's instigators forces its collapse.


Venezuelan commoner María Margarita Vargas Santaella marries Louis Alphonse, duke of Anjou and legitimist claimant to the French throne in a civil ceremony in Caracas, on 5 November. A religious ceremony is held the following day in La Romana, in the Dominican Republic.

2006 - 2007

Hugo Chavez wins the elections again and begins a second term of office. The following year, an attempt to cancel the limit on his term of office as president is defeated by a public vote, but only by fifty-one per cent of voters.

Hugo Chavez
Hugo Chavez now had no limit to the term of his office as president of Venezuela, and only terminal illness ended his 'reign' over the country


The attempt to cancel the limit on the presidential term of office is renewed, and this time Chavez is successful, winning the right to remain in office for as long as he sees fit.


The death of fifty-eight year-old Hugo Chavez is announced by his vice president. Chavez had been seriously ill with cancer for more than a year, but had recently faded quite notably. Given his alliances with Cuba and Iran during his time as president, he has made many enemies in leading countries across the world, as well as creating a form of 'socialist democracy' which nevertheless required a dictator at its head. He had also lead Venezuela into recession at a time with the other Latin American countries are prospering.

2013 - Present

Nicolas Maduro

Successor and would-be dictator.


Nicolas Maduro's ruling socialist party gains virtually unlimited powers after a reported eight million people vote in favour of creating a National Constituent Assembly on 30 July 2017. The election result paves the way for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) to replace the National Assembly with a new parliament comprising 545 members who are nominated by his administration. The move is widely condemned as a 'power grab' by Maduro, who has been locked in a stalemate with the opposition-controlled National Assembly.


Following the lead set by the USA, on 4 February several EU nations which include Britain, Germany, Portugal, and Spain officially recognise Nicolas Maduro's opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, as the country's interim leader after Maduro refuses to initiate fresh elections. Venezuela is an economic disaster zone, but Maduro vows to retain his grip on power.