Chronography of Venezuela

Page last modified 20 August 2023


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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

Demography of Venezuela


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

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

28 January 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 January 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 August 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 August 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.

4 December 2006, Hugo Chavez was re-elected as President of Venezuela in a landslide victory.

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 December 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 February 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 March 1990, Venezuela suspended foreign debt repayments following widespread rioting.

28 February 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 price 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.

2 January 1973, Eleazar L�pez Contreras, President of Venezuela 1935�1941, died aged 89.

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.


Betancourt Presidency, 1960-63 (also 1945-48)

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

1 January 1976, Venezuela nationalised its oil industry.

2 July 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.

20 April 1960, Rebels led by General Jose Maria Castro Leon seized control of the Venezuelan state of T�chira, and tried unsuccessfullyto persuade other military garrisons to revolt against the government of President Romulo Betancourt. The uprising was quickly put down.

1959, Romulo Betancourt was inaugurated as President of Venezuela.

7 December 1958, Romulo Betancourt was elected President of Venezuela


23 January 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.

21 January 1958, General strike began in Venezuela.

1 January 1958, In Venezuela, the regime of President Marcos Perez Jimenez (born 1914) was accused of corruption, police brutality, and excessive spending on construction of public works and tourist hotels.

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 press was censored and universities closed down. Oil revenue was diverted from health and education to build huge unnecessary public works

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

18 October 1945, In Venezuela, a coup by the Leftist Action Democratica Party. Romulo Betancourt (1908-81) was installed as President

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

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


Financial claims on Venezuela from damage to foreign assets there

22 February 1904, Monday (-15,051) The Hague Tribunal ruled against Venezuela and set the sums to be paid to Britain, Germany and Italy.

20 December 1902, Italy also made financial claims on Venezuela. US President Roosevelt was asked by all parties to mediate.

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

13 February 1903, Venezuela came to an agreement with its creditors to submit the case for arbitration at The JHague.

19 December 1902, Venezuela defaulted on repayments on loans taken out to pay for infrastructure improvements.

17 December 1902, Britain agreed to arbitration over its financial claims on Venezuela.

13 December 1902, British and German warships began bombarding the Venezuelan forts at Puerto Bello.

7 December 1902, Britain and Germany demanded that President Cipriano Castro Venezuela pay for damages caused to their assets within the country during his takeover in 1899. When Cipriano failed to comply, British and German warships blockaded the port of Caracas.

12 August 1902, Foreign embassies were attacked in Caracas, Venezuela.


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.


Gran Colombia formed, disintegrated

22 September 1830, Venezuela became an independent sovereign State.

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

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


Fight for independence under Bolivar

30 August 1821, Simon Bolivar was named President of Venezuela.

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

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

1 January 1814, Simon Bolivar became President of Venezuela.

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

7 July 1813, Venezuela achieved independence from Spain for the second time, with Simon Bolivar as virtual dictator.

31 July 1812, Spanish forces recaptured Venezuela. Francisco de Miranda, leader of the anti-Spanish revolution, was arrested.

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

22 May 1810, Popular revolt against Spanish rule in the vice-royalty of New Granada.

19 April 1810, Under the influence of South American revolutionary Simon Bolivar, the Venezuelan juntarevoked allegiance to Napoleonic Spain, supporting instead the hereditary Spanish monarch, Ferdinand VII.

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

12 March 1806, Francesco de Miranda started an independence movement against Spain, raising his red blue and yellow flag.

13 June 1790, Jose Antonio Paez, President of Venezuela, was born (died 6 May 1873 in New York, USA)

24 July 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 September 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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