The people living in the area were decimated
after the arrival of the Spaniards in 1498, due to
hardships and new diseases. Venezuela became an
important agricultural exporter in the Spanish colonial
empire. In the early 19th century, a struggle for
independence began with the freedom fighter Simón
Bolívar as a foreground figure. In 1821, the Republic of
Greater Colombia was proclaimed, which soon split; In
1830 Venezuela became a state of its own. The country
was mainly governed by dictators until 1945.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Venezuela, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
Venezuela's first inhabitants were hunters and
nomads, believed to have come to the area 15,000 years
ago. From the Amazon came arawak and chibcha Indians,
from the Orinoco delta Caribbean. The people groups had
no direct contact among themselves and in Venezuela
there was no high culture such as in Peru or Mexico.
Christofer Columbus arrived in Venezuela in 1498
during his third trip across the Atlantic. Many believe
that Venezuela got its name because the colonizers
thought that houses on piles along the coast reminded of
the houses in Venice. Venezuela means little Venice in
Profitable agricultural colony
The first Spanish settlement, Cumaná, was founded a
few decades after Columbus's arrival. The colonization's
entry led to a rapid decline of the indigenous
population. Many died in diseases and struggles and as a
result of being forced to work as slaves to the
Venezuela soon developed into Spain's most successful
agricultural colony, where cocoa and coffee beans were
grown. During the 19th century, Venezuela was the
world's third largest coffee producer after Brazil and
Java. Slaves were imported from Africa to the
plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1854.
Venezuela created its own upper class of Spanish
kittens, which became wealthy through plantation, trade
and smuggling. Soon, however, tensions arose between the
Creoles (Spanish kittens born in America) and
peninsulares (people born in Spain). Among the Creole,
the will to break away from colonial power grew in
Venezuela becomes independent
Already in the middle of the 18th century the first
revolts against Spain began. In 1806, Francisco de
Miranda began the long war that would lead to
Venezuela's liberation. But it was another freedom
fighter, Simón Bolívar, who eventually managed to break
Spain's control over the colony. The long and bloody
struggle for independence lasted until 1821, when
Bolívar founded the Republic of Greater Colombia.
Bolívar had a vision of uniting Latin American countries
and creating a counterbalance to the United States. But
Greater Colombia soon tore apart internal conflicts and
in 1830 Venezuela became an independent state.
The people of the newly formed Venezuela were poor,
divided and lacked nationalist sentiments. Constant
civil war raged at first, and it was only after the
"federal wars" (1859-1863) that the beginning of
national cohesion emerged. Venezuela has long been ruled
by charismatic and strong leaders. The regimes
alternated between the regime characterized by liberal
ideas and hard-handed dictatorship.
Between 1908 and 1935 the dictator Juan Vicente Gómez
ruled with great cruelty. During his time, oil was
discovered, and the society changed radically. Rich oil
magnates were set against a poor rural population who
began to demand their rights. During the 1930s the
opposition grew strong and eventually the Socialist
Party Democratic Action (AD) and Christian Democratic
Copei were formed. But it would take some time before
the military dictatorship was over.
The United States is facing sanctions against individuals
The US Congress votes to impose sanctions on Venezuelan government officials
who are considered to be involved in violence against protesters and violations
of their human rights. Maduro is raging and talking about imperialist forms.
Oil revenues almost halved in two years
The falling world market price of oil is exacerbating the economic crisis.
Venezuela does not succeed in getting the other oil-exporting countries in Opec
to cut production to raise the price, which in a few months has fallen from
around $ 115 to below $ 70 a barrel. For Venezuela, the falling price means that
import revenues have fallen from $ 77 billion to $ 43 billion in two years.
Court orders Venezuela to replace oil giant
An international arbitration tribunal within the World Bank states Venezuela
must pay oil giant Exxon $ 1.6 billion in compensation for, among other things,
the nationalization of the Cerro Negro mining project in 2007. Foreign Minister
Rafael Ramírez calls the ruling "reasonable"; Exxon had requested $ 16.6
billion. Another more than 20 claims from other foreign companies have not yet
New Vice Presidents
In a government refurbishment, several new vice presidential posts are set
up. Foreign Minister Jaua becomes Vice President responsible for the development
of territorial socialism. New Foreign Minister becomes Rafael Rodriguez.
The border with Colombia is closed
The government decides to close the 220-mile border to Colombia at night, in
an effort to prevent the extensive smuggling of oil and food. Around 17,000
soldiers are deployed to guard the border. Up to 40 percent of government
subsidized goods are sold at higher prices in neighboring countries, according
to Venezuelan estimates. About 100,000 barrels of oil are believed to be carried
across the border each day. The smuggling is also plaguing the market in
Colombia. According to Venezuela, the decision was made in consultation between
Maduro and his Colombian colleague Juan Manuel Santos, but from Colombian
protests comes what is called a unilateral decision to close the border.
Maduro becomes party leader
The ruling party PSUV holds congress and President Nicolás Maduro is elected
party chairman. The late Hugo Chávez is appointed eternal leader of the party.
Imprisoned opposition leaders are replaced by wives
Two women who are married to incarcerated opposition mayors (see
March 2014) win by a wide margin and replace them. Patricia Gutiérrez
gets 73 percent of the votes in San Cristóbal and Rosa Brandonisio 88 percent in
San Diego. Both municipalities are strong opposition parties.
Dialogue to stop unrest
The government and opposition agree to initiate "formal talks" to end the
protests that have been going on for two months. The decision comes after
mediation by the Vatican and the South American cooperative organization Unasur,
which will also participate in the talks. A first televised meeting between
President Maduro and opposition leader Capriles is underway for six hours.
Maduro says no agreement with the opposition is involved, as it would mean
"betrayal of chavism". Capriles says he doesn't want a coup, but accuses the
president of being disrespectful to half the residents when he calls them
"fascists." The unrest is reported to have claimed the lives of 41 people,
including 32 civilians and 9 police officers. Over 500 have been injured and
more than 2,000 have been arrested,
The military regains control in San Cristóbal
Security forces are said to have torn down barricades and regained control of
San Cristóbal. Mayor Daniel Ceballos has been sentenced to 12 months in prison.
Similarly, the mayor of San Diego in the state of Carabobo in the north,
Vicencio Scarano, is similarly sentenced to ten and a half months in prison for
failing to obey a court order to tear barricades.
Generals arrested for insurgency plans
President Maduro states that three Air Force generals have been arrested,
accused of plans to launch an uprising. According to Maduro, the arrest comes
after a tip from younger officers. The message was given at a meeting with
foreign ministers from the South American cooperation body Unasur, who are
visiting to discuss the political crisis in Venezuela.
Another opposition leader seized
The mayor of San Cristóbal, where the latest wave of protests began, is being
arrested by the intelligence service, accused of incitement to violence. Mayor
Daniel Ceballos belongs to the People's Will, the same party as Leopoldo López
(see February 2014).
US criticism of 'terrorist campaign'
14th of March
US Secretary of State John Kerry calls on Venezuela to end its "terror
campaign against its own citizens". It is the sharpest statement so far from the
United States since the unrest erupted just over a month earlier. Both UN chief
Ban Ki-Moon and Pope Francis have expressed concern over developments in
Venezuela. The unrest continues with almost daily protest marches in both camps,
and with street barricades in neighborhoods that are opposition parties. Maduro
says the government has averted a "right-wing".
Relations with Panama are broken
In celebration of the one year anniversary of the death of former President
Hugo Chávez, the successor Nicolás Maduro announces that he is breaking
diplomatic relations with Panama and freezing all trade exchanges. It is a
reaction that Panama has requested a meeting of the OAS (see Foreign Policy and
Defense) to discuss the crisis in Venezuela. Maduro announces its decision
during a meeting with a number of Latin American leaders.
The US and Venezuela expel diplomats
The United States expels three Venezuelan diplomats in response to the fact
that a week earlier Venezuela ordered three US diplomats to leave the country,
after being accused of engaging in the protests. It was the third time US
diplomats have been expelled since Maduro took office in April 2013.
The military is sent to Táchira
There is continued unrest in the country and the president orders troops to
Táchira. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles urges protesters to avoid all
violence but at the same time calls for a new big demonstration. After a couple
of weeks of protests, a dozen people's lives have been claimed and over 100
injured. The protests are aimed at the high crime rate, the galloping inflation
and the large shortage of groceries.
Opposition leaders are arrested
Another major demonstration against the government is being held in Caracas,
while thousands of oil workers are participating in a march in support of the
government. At the anti-government demonstration, opposition leader Leopoldo
López gives a speech before handing himself over to the National Guard. An
arrest warrant was issued shortly before López, former mayor of the Chacao
district of Caracas, from which the newly blossomed demonstrations had expired.
Three killed in the protests
After a week when regime critics demonstrated around the country, three
people were shot dead in connection with a major protest in Caracas. Government
supporters are also gathered to show their support for the government. President
Maduro says fascists are trying to take power in the country.
Growing protests against the government
Students in San Cristóbal, the capital of the western state of Táchira, are
demonstrating against a lack of security following a rape. Some demonstrations
have already taken place, and protests against violence are soon to be expanded
and also directed at President Maduro and the government's economic policy, as
well as spread to other parts of the country. Several people are arrested, which
contributes to further demonstrations.
Airlines stop flying to Venezuela
Several foreign airlines cancel flights to Venezuela due to non-payment. The
hard currency control makes it difficult for the companies to raise money for
tickets sold in Venezuela. New currency restrictions have recently been