Carlos Andrés Pérez

Carlos Andrés Pérez

Infobox_President | name=Carlos Andrés Pérez

order=55th President of Venezuela
term_start=March 12, 1974
term_end=March 12 1979
predecessor=Rafael Caldera
successor=Luis Herrera Campins
order2=58th President of Venezuela
term_start2=February 2, 1989
term_end2=May 20 1993
predecessor2=Jaime Lusinchi
successor2=Octavio Lepage (who after Carlos Andrés Pérez became an Acting President till Ramón José Velásquez took over on 5'th June)
office3=Senator for life
term_start3=March 12, 1979
term_end3=February 2, 1989
birth_date=Birth date and age|1922|10|27|mf=y
birth_place="Rubio", Táchira, Venezuela
religion=Roman Catholic

party=Acción Democrática
spouse=Blanca Rodriguez

Carlos Andrés Pérez Rodríguez (born October 27, 1922), best known as CAP, was President of Venezuela from 1974 to 1979 and again from 1989 to 1993. His first presidency was well-known as the "Saudi Venezuela" due to its economic and social prosperity thanks to enormous income from petroleum exportation. However, his second period was disastrous - it saw a series of social crises, a popular revolt (denominated Caracazo) and two coup attempts (February 4, 1992 and November 27, 1992). Also, he was the first Venezuelan president to be forced out of the office on May 20, 1993 by the Supreme Court, for the misappropriation of 250 million bolivars belonging to a presidential discretionary fund.

Early life and education

Carlos Andrés Pérez was born at the hacienda "La Argentina", on the Venezuelan-Colombian border, near the town of Rubio, Táchira state, the eleventh of twelve children in a middle-class family. His father, Antonio Pérez Lemus, was a Colombian-born coffee planter and pharmacist of Spanish and Canary Islander ancestry who emigrated to Venezuela during the last years of the 19th century. His mother, Julia Rodríguez, was the daughter of a prominent landowner in the town of Rubio and the granddaughter of Venezuelan refugees who had fled to the Andes and Colombia in the wake of the civil war that ravaged Venezuela in the 1860s.

Pérez was educated at the María Inmaculada School in Rubio, run by Dominican friars. His childhood was spent between the family home in town, a rambling Spanish colonial-style house, and the coffee haciendas owned by his father and maternal grandfather. Influenced by his grandfather, an avid book collector, Perez read voraciously from an early age, including French and Spanish classics by Jules Verne and Alexandre Dumas. As he grew older, Pérez also became politically aware and managed to read Voltaire, Rousseau and Marx without the knowledge of his deeply conservative parents.

The combination of falling coffee prices, business disputes and harassment orchestrated by henchmen allied to dictator Juan Vicente Gomez, led to the financial ruin and physical deterioration of Antonio Pérez, who died of a heart attack in 1936. This episode would force the widow Julia and her sons to move to Venezuela's capital, Caracas, in 1939, where two of Pérez's eldest brothers had gone to attend university. The death of his father had a profound impact on the young Pérez, bolstering his convictions that democratic freedoms and rights were the only guarantees against the arbitrary, and tyrannical, use of state power.

In Caracas, Perez enrolled in the renowned "Liceo Andrés Bello", where he graduated in 1944 with a major in Philosophy. In 1944, he enrolled in the Law School of the Central University of Venezuela. However, the intensification of his political activism would prevent Pérez from ever completing his law degree.

Political life

The political life of Carlos Andrés Pérez began at the age of 15, when he became a founding member of the Venezuelan Youth Association and a member of the National Democratic Party, both of which were opposed to the repressive administration of General Eleazar López Contreras, who had succeeded the dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gómez in 1935. He also co-operated with the first labour unions in his region. When he moved to Caracas, in 1939 , he started an ascendant political career as a youth leader and founder of the Democratic Action (AD) party, in which he would play an important role during the XX century, first as a close ally to party founder Rómulo Betancourt and then as a political leader in his own right.

In October 1945, a group of civilians and young army officers plotted the overthrow of the government run by General Isaías Medina Angarita. At the age of 23, Pérez was appointed Private Secretary to the Junta President, Mr. Romulo Betancourt, and became Cabinet Secretary in 1946. However, in 1948, when the military staged a coup against the democratically elected government of Rómulo Gallegos, Pérez was forced to go into exile (going to Cuba, Panama and Costa Rica) for a decade. He temporarily returned to Venezuela secretly in 1952 to complete special missions in his fight against the new dictatorial government. He was imprisoned on various occasions and spent more than two years in jail in total. In Costa Rica, he was active in Venezuelan political refugee circles, worked as Editor in Chief of the newspaper "La República" and kept in close contact with Betancourt and other AD leaders.

In 1958, after the fall of dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez, Pérez returned to Venezuela and participated in the reorganization of the AD Party. He was appointed Minister of the Interior in 1961 and made his mark as a tough minister and canny politician who successfully neutralized small, disruptive and radical right-wing and left-wing insurrections, the latter Cuban-influenced and Cuban-financed, that were being staged around the country. This was an important step in the pacification of the country in the mid to late 1960s, the consolidation of democracy and the integration of radical parties into the political process.

After the end of the Betancourt administration and the 1963 elections, Pérez left government temporarily and dedicated himself to consolidating his support in the party. During this time, he served as head of the AD in Congress and was elected to the position of Secretary General of AD, a role that was crucial in laying the ground for his presidential ambitions.

First term as president

In 1973, Carlos Andrés Pérez was nominated to run for the presidency for AD. Youthful and energetic, Perez ran a vibrant and triumphalist campaign, one of the first to use the services of American advertising gurus and political consultants in the country’s history. During the run up to elections, he visited nearly all the villages and cities of Venezuela by foot and walked more than 5800 kilometers. He was elected in December of that year, receiving 48.7% of the vote against the 36.7% of his main rival. Turnout in these elections reached an unprecedented 97% of all eligible voters, a level which has not been achieved since.

One of the most radical aspects of Pérez's program for government was the notion that petroleum oil was a tool for under-developed nations like Venezuela to attain first world status and usher a fairer, more equitable international order. International events, including the Yom Kippur War of 1973, contributed to the implementation of this vision. Drastic increases in petroleum prices that led to an economic bonanza for the country just as Pérez started his term. His policies, including the nationalization of the iron and petroleum industries, investment in large state-owned industrial projects for the production of aluminium and hydroelectric energy, infrastructure improvements and the funding of social welfare and scholarship programmes, were extremely ambitious and involved massive government spending, to the tune of almost $53 billion. His measures to protect the environment and foster sustainable development earned the Earth Care award in 1975, the first time a Latin American leader had received this recognition.In the international arena, Perez supported democratic and progressive causes in Latin America and the world. He opposed the Somoza and Pinochet dictatorships and played a crucial role in the finalizing of the agreement for the transfer of the Panama Canal from American to Panamanian control. In 1975, with Mexican President Luis Echeverria, he found SELA, the Latin American Economic System, created to foster economic cooperation and scientific exchange between the nations of Latin America. He also supported the democratization process in Spain, as he brought Felipe González, who was living in exile, back to Spain in a private flight and thus strengthened the PSOE.
January 1, 1975] Towards the end of his first term in office, Pérez's reputation was tarnished by accusations of excessive, and disorderly, government spending. His administration was often referred to as Saudi Venezuela for its grandiose and extravagant ambitions. In addition, there were allegations of corruption and trafficking of influence, often involving members of Pérez's intimate circle, such as his mistress Cecilia Matos, or financiers and businessmen who donated to his campaign. A well-publicized rift with his former mentor Betancourt and disgruntled members of AD all pointed to the fading of Perez’s political standing. By the 1979 elections, there was a sense among many citizens that the influx of petrodollars after 1973 had not been properly managed. The country was importing 80% of all foodstuffs consumed. Agricultural production was stagnant. The national debt had skyrocketed. And whilst per capita income had increased and prosperity was evident in Caracas and other major cities, the country was also more expensive and a significant minority of Venezuelans were still mired in poverty. This malaise led to the defeat of AD at the polls by the opposition Social Christian Party. The newly elected president, Luis Herrera Campíns, famously stated in his inaugural speech that he was “inheriting a mortgaged country.”

After the first presidency

Carlos Andrés Pérez maintained a high profile in international affairs. In 1980, he was elected president of the Latin American Association of Human Rights. He collaborated with President Julius Nyerere in the organization of the South-South Commission. He actively participated in the Socialist International, where he served as Vice-President for three consecutive terms, under the presidency of Willy Brandt from West Germany. Willy Brandt and Carlos Andrés Pérez, together with José Francisco Peña Gómez, a political leader from the Dominican Republic, expanded the activities of the Socialist International from Europe to Latin America. In 1988, he became a Member of the Council of Freely-Elected Heads of Government, established by the former President of the United States, H.E. Jimmy Carter. He was elected Chairman of the Harvard University Conference on Foreign Debt in Latin America, on September 1989, and receives the Henry and Nancy Bartels Award on World Affairs at Cornell University.

econd term as president

On February 1989, at the beginning of his second term as President, he accepted an International Monetary Fund proposal known as the Washington consensus. In return for accepting this proposal, the International Monetary Fund offered Venezuela a loan for 4.5 billion US dollars. Poor economic conditions led to attempts to revolutionize the political and economic structure of Venezuela, but were too late to prevent massive popular protests in Caracas, the capital, that were triggered by the rise in food prices and the economic crisis that had affected the country throughout much of the 1980s. Carlos Andrés Pérez crushed the protest with the national guard, causing a large number of deaths - estimates range from 500 to 3000, and resulted in the declaration of a state of emergency. The protest is now referred to as the Caracazo.

On February, 1992, his government survived two bloody coup attempts. The first attempt took place February 4, 1992, and was led by Lieutenant-Colonel Hugo Chávez, who was later elected president. Hugo Chávez troops besieged the presidential residence. Carlos Andrés Pérez escaped through the garage of the palace and managed to get to quell the attempt. The second insurrection took place on November 27, 1992, and was controlled by Pérez quickly.

Corruption charges

Octavio Lepage after the destitution] On March 20, 1993, Attorney General Ramón Escovar Salom, introduced action against Pérez for the misappropriation of 250 million bolivars belonging to a presidential discretionary fund, or "partida secreta". The issue had originally been brought to public scrutiny in November 1992 by journalist José Vicente Rangel. Pérez and his supporters claim the money was used to support the electoral process in Nicaragua. On May 20, 1993, the Supreme Court considered the accusation valid, and the National Congress removed Pérez from office. He was imprisoned and sentenced to two years of prison on May, 1994 for malversation of funds of the secret party. [ Pérez second period review at] ]

In 1998, he was imprisoned again, this time for holding joint bank accounts with his mistress, Cecilia Matos. As he was elected Senator of the State of Táchira in 1998, he gained his liberty. Pérez lost this position when Chávez dissolved the Senate as an institution and created a unique National Assembly. He then left Venezuela and went into exile. In Miami, he has since gained notoriety by being one of the most vehement opposers of President Hugo Chávez.

Personal life

At the age of 26 he married his first cousin Blanca Rodriguez with whom he had six children, Sonia, Thais, Martha, Carlos Manuel, Maria de Los Angeles and Maria Carolina. In the late 1960s, he began an extramarital relationship with his former secretary Cecilia Matos, with whom he had two daughters, Maria Francia and Cecilia Victoria Perez. Although rumours have circulated that Pérez and Matos are now married, his divorce suit against Blanca Rodriguez has not been successful and the two are still legally married. He has been living in exile since 1998 with Matos, dividing his time between his homes in Miami, the Dominican Republic and New York. In 2003, he suffered a debilitating stroke that seriously affected his mental and physical abilities. On March 31, 2008, the secretary general of Acción Democrática Henry Ramos Allup, announced that the former president of Venezuela, Carlos Andrés Pérez, wanted to return to Venezuela from exile, to spend his last years in Caracas.cite web | url = | title= Ex presidente Carlos Andrés Pérez desea regresar a Venezuela| date=2008-04-01| author = Union Radio | accessdate=2008-04-10 es_icon]


* [ Carlos Andrés Pérez biography at]
* [ Pérez first period review at]
*Hernandez, Ramon and Roberto Giusti. "Memorias Proscritas". Caracas: Editorial El Nacional, 2006

External links

* [ Extended biography by CIDOB Foundation] (in Spanish)

ee also

*Presidents of Venezuela
*1992 Venezuelan coup d'état attempts

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