Marcos Pérez Jiménez
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|Marcos Pérez Jiménez|
|President of Venezuela|
19 April 1953 – 23 January 1958
|Preceded by||Himself as "Provisional President"|
|Succeeded by||Wolfgang Larrazábal|
|Provisional President of Venezuela|
2 December 1952 – 19 April 1953
|Preceded by||Germán Suárez Flamerich|
|Succeeded by||Himself as "President" proper|
|30th Commander-in-Chief of the Venezuelan Army|
November 1948 – August 1954
|Preceded by||Carlos Delgado Chalbaud|
|Succeeded by||Hugo Fuentes|
|Minister of Defense|
18 October 1948 – 1 January 1952
|Preceded by||Carlos Delgado Chalbaud|
|Succeeded by||Jesús M. Castro León|
|Born||Marcos Evangelista Pérez Jiménez
25 April 1914
|Died||20 September 2001
|Spouse(s)||Flor María Chalbaud Cardona|
|Alma mater||Military academy of Venezuela|
|Years of service||1931–1958|
Marcos Evangelista Pérez Jiménez (Michelena, Táchira, April 25, 1914 – Alcobendas, Spain, September 20, 2001) was a Venezuelan military and general officer of the Army of Venezuela and the President of Venezuela from 1952 to 1958.
His ruling period is characterized by marked improvement in development, with the rise of oil prices facilitating many public works achievements. Political and economic stability, along with the completion of ambitious public works and the rapid development of industries such as hydroelectricity, mining, and steel were achieved during this period as well. Pérez Jiménez was also responsible for the modernization of the military and the nation enjoyed a period of high prosperity and social tranquility. However, the government's National Security (Seguridad Nacional, secret police) was extremely repressive against critics of the regime and ruthlessly hunted down and imprisoned those who opposed the dictatorship.
Following massive public demonstrations in support for a democratic reform to take place in the government, Perez was deposed in a coup perpetrated by disgruntled sectors within the Armed Forces of Venezuela on January 23, 1958. Perez was then exiled to Dominican Republic, and afterwards went on to settle in Spain under the Franco regime's protection.
Marcos Evangelista Pérez Jiménez was born in Michelena, Táchira State. His father, Juan Pérez Bustamante, was a farmer; his mother, Adela Jiménez, a schoolteacher. Pérez Jiménez attended school in his home town and in Colombia, and in 1934, he graduated from the Academia Militar de Venezuela, at the top of his class. He subsequently studied at military colleges in Peru.
In 1945, Pérez Jiménez participated in a coup that helped install Democratic Action party founder, Rómulo Betancourt, as President of the Revolutionary Government Junta. The government would later became known as El Trienio Adeco. After a constitutional change providing universal suffrage, elections were held in 1947 which resulted in the election of party member, Romulo Gallegos.
Fears of cuts in pay for soldiers and a lack of modernized army equipment led Pérez Jiménez and Lt. Colonel Carlos Delgado Chalbaud to stage another coup in 1948. Betancourt and Gallegos were exiled, political parties were suppressed, and the Communist Party was once again banished by the Military Junta headed by Delgado Chalbaud, Luis Felipe Llovera Páez and Pérez Jiménez.
After a clumsily arranged kidnapping that ended in the murder of Delgado Chalbaud, the Military Junta changed its name to a Government Junta, and reorganized itself with Pérez Jiménez pulling the strings of puppet President, Germán Suárez Flamerich. However, when results of the much anticipated 1952 elections were showing signs of a massive defeat for the military government, the Junta allegedly fixed the results and named Pérez Jiménez as the winner.
The junta called an election for 1952. When early results showed that the opposition was ahead and would win, the junta suspended the election and made Pérez provisional president on 2 December 1952. He became president on 19 April 1953. Soon afterward, he enacted a constitution that gave him dictatorial powers.
Pérez Jiménez (widely known as "P.J.") changed the name of the country, which had been "United States of Venezuela" since 1864, to "Republic of Venezuela". This name would remain until 1999, when it was changed it to Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela by a Constitutional referendum. (Spanish: República Bolivariana de Venezuela.)
During his government, Pérez Jiménez undertook many infrastructure projects, including construction of roads, bridges, government buildings, large public housing complexes and the symbolic Humboldt Hotel overlooking Caracas. The economy of Venezuela developed rapidly during his term. Like most dictators, Pérez was not tolerant of criticism and his government ruthlessly pursued and suppressed the opposition. Opponents of his regime were painted as communists1 and often treated brutally.2 While Pérez was president of Venezuela, the government of the United States awarded him the U.S. Legion of Merit. Foreign capital and immigration were also highly promoted during his presidency, especially from European communities such as those of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese origin. Perez also pushed for vast and ambitious infrastructure programs, based on the policy of reinforced concrete, with construction of buildings, large and modern highways, which linked and renewed ties between states and other major works which greatly modernized the country.
Pérez Jiménez was up for reelection in 1957, but dispensed with these formalities. Instead, he held a plebiscite in which voters could only choose between voting "yes" or "no" to another term for the president. Predictably, Pérez Jiménez won by a large margin, though by all accounts the count was blatantly rigged.
In January 1958, there was a general uprising and, with rioting in the streets, Pérez left the country. He moved to the United States, where he lived until 1963, when he was extradited to Venezuela on charges of embezzling $200 million during his presidential tenure. The 1959–63 extradition of Perez, related to Financiadora Administradora Inmobiliaria, S.A., one of the largest development companies in South America, and other business connections, is considered by academicians to be a classic study in the precedent for enforcement of administrative honesty in Latin American countries.4
Upon arrival in Venezuela he was imprisoned until his trial, which did not take place for another five years. Convicted of the charges, his sentence was commuted as he had already spent more time in jail while he awaited trial. He was then exiled to Spain. In 1968, he was elected to the Senate of Venezuela, but his election was contested, and he was kept from taking office. A quick law was passed whereby former prisoners were excluded from participating in the governmental process.
He died in Alcobendas, Madrid, Spain, at the age of 87 on September 20, 2001.
The period of Pérez Jiménez in power is remembered historically as a government of nationalist roots. His government was based on an ideological pragmatism characterized by the Doctrine of National Well, that the regime expressed in the New National Ideal would be the philosophical beacon to guide the actions of the government.
Pérez had four daughters with his wife, Flor Chalbaud, and one daughter with Marita Lorenz.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Marcos Pérez Jiménez.|
- Adolf A. Berle, Jr., "Latin America: The Hidden Revolution," Reporter, 28 May 1959.
- Time, 23 August 1963, as cited in John Gunther, Inside South America, p. 492-493
- Mendoza & Mendoza Editores (1956). Presidency of Venezuela. “Así progresa un pueblo.”
- “The Extradition of Marcos Perez Jimenez, 1959–63: Practical Precedent for Administrative Honesty?”, Judith Ewell, Journal of Latin American Studies, 9, 2, 291–313, 
Germán Suárez Flamerich
|President of Venezuela