Pérez, Carlos Andrés (1926–)

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Pérez, Carlos Andrés (1926–)

Carlos Andrés Pérez (b. 27 October 1926) was president of Venezuela (1974–1979, 1988–1993). Andrés Pérez was a founder of Venezuela's Democratic Action (AD), inspired by Peru's Popular American Revolutionary Alliance (APRA). During his two presidential terms Pérez completed oil nationalization, was a spokesman for the Third World, and led efforts to influence U.S. policy through the Conta-dora organization of eight Latin American nations.

Carlos Andrés Pérez was born in Rubio, a Venezuelan Andean village. Dictator Juan Vicente Gómez's repression of campesinos, as well as the forced sale of the Pérez family's coffee ranch, led Carlos into populist politics. The protégé of Democratic Action founders Leonardo Ruiz Pineda, Rómulo Gallegos, and Rómulo Betancourt, at eighteen Pérez was a delegate to the party's first convention. After the overthrow of the dictatorship of Eleazar López Contreras in 1945, Pérez became secretary to Betancourt, the president of the revolutionary government junta. The junta was promptly overthrown by a military coup, and Pérez eventually joined Betancourt in Costa Rica, where they published an antimilitary newspaper. At the end of the dictatorship of Marcos Pérez Jiménez in 1958, Pérez returned to Venezuela as Betancourt's minister of the interior.

Pérez, one of Venezuela's most charismatic politicians, is known popularly as "CAP." During his first presidency, he completed the nationalization of Venezuela's petroleum industry and instigated state welfarism, engendered by the rise in international oil prices. Internationally, he championed wealth redistribution to the Third World through commodity power.

When oil prices fell in the 1980s, Pérez pushed austerity moves. In 1988 he was the first president re-elected to a second term after a constitutionally mandated ten-year wait. However, the inability of the conservative coalition to maintain the illusion of easy wealth and permanent subsidized programs led to riots in February 1989. Two unsuccessful coup attempts in 1992 indicated that Pérez's program was no more popular than that of his predecessor, Luis Herrara Campíns. His administration ended in scandal when in 1993 the political opposition accused him of corruption. The Supreme Court validated the charges and the national legislature removed him from office. After spending time in jail, Pérez won a Senate seat in 1998. However, Hugo Chávez, who had led the first coup attempt in 1992, won the presidency in 2000 and dissolved the Senate. Pérez then moved to Miami and became a vocal critic of the Chávez administration.

See alsoChávez, Hugo; Venezuela: Venezuela since 1830; Venezuela, Political Parties: Democratic Action (AD).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

José Antonio Rangel Barón, Carlos Andrés Pérez: El hombre, el presidente: Historia viva (1988).

Paul H. Boeker, Lost Illusions (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Méndez, Ana Irene. Democracia y discurso político: Caldera, Pérez y Chávez. Caracas, Venezuela: Monte Avila Editores Latinoamericana, 2004.

Tarver, H. Micheal. The Rise and Fall of Venezuelan President Carlos Andrés Pérez: An Historical Examination. 2 vols. Lewiston, NY: E. Mellen Press, 2001–2004.

                                      Pat Konrad