Pérez Jiménez, Marcos (1914–2001)

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Pérez Jiménez, Marcos (1914–2001)

Marcos Pérez Jiménez was a Venezuelan professional army officer and president (1942–1958). Pérez Jiménez was the dominant political figure in Venezuela from 1948 to 1958 and was the last of a series of army officers from the state of Táchira who ruled Venezuela in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A 1934 graduate of the Venezuelan Military Academy, Pérez Jiménez was a central figure in the 1945 overthrow of President Isaías Medina Angarita. Pérez had organized the revolutionary Patriotic Military Union (Unión Patriótica Militar—UPM) in 1944 and when he was arrested on 18 October 1945, the UPM overthrew the government. The junta that emerged the next day, however, headed by Rómulo Betancourt of the Democratic Action Party (Acción Democrática—AD), did not include Pérez Jiménez. Instead, Betancourt sent Pérez Jiménez abroad on an extended diplomatic mission. Alienated, Pérez Jiménez eventually organized the overthrow of the Venezuelan government of Rómulo Gallegos on 24 November 1948, restoring the military to power after three years of civilian rule. Pérez Jiménez was a member of the governing junta through the election of 1952, which appeared to be won by the opposition Democratic Republican Union (Unión Republicana Democrática—URD). Colonel Pérez Jiménez, however, suspended the election and seized power himself. His military dictatorship continued until 23 January 1958, when he was removed in a bloodless coup by other military officers, opening the way for the return of the AD and more democratic rule. Repression, corruption, and electoral fraud characterized his administration. The new government exiled the former dictator to the United States, but in 1963 extradited him and tried him for corruption during his administration. Convicted in a five-year trial during which he was imprisoned, he was once more exiled; he lived in Spain the rest of his life.

Supporters in 1968 organized a political party supporting him. Although he won election as a senator from Caracas, his absence from the country led to his disqualification. His continued popularity, especially in Caracas, led to speculation that he might be a candidate in the 1973 presidential election until a constitutional amendment barred all ex-officeholders who had been convicted of felonies related to their tenure in office from running for any government post. Despite the unfavorable memories much of Venezuela had of his time in office, in 1999 newly elected president Hugo Chávez invited him to attend his inauguration ceremonies. Pérez died on September 20, 2001, in Madrid.

See alsoVenezuela: Venezuela since 1830 .


Tad Szulc, The Twilight of the Tyrants (1959).

Judith Ewell, Indictment of a Dictator: Extradition and Trial of Marcos Pérez Jiménez (1981).

Antonio Pérez Vivas, Hegemonía andina (historia) y Pérez Jiménez (1987).

Carlos Capriles Ayala, Pérez Jiménez y su tiempo: Biografía del ex-presidente y radiografía de Venezuela en algunas etapas estelares de su historia, 3d ed. (1988).

Guido Acuña, Pérez Jiménez, un gendarme innecesario: Libro testimonial de la resistencia, 1948–1958 (1989).

Ocarina Castillo, Los años del buldozer: Ideología y política, 1948–1958 (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Hernández, Carlos Raúl, and Luis Emilio Rondón. La democracia traicionada: Grandeza y miseria del Pacto de Punto Fijo (Venezuela 1958–2003). Caracas, Venezuela: Rayuela, Taller de Ediciones, 2005.

Neira Fernández, Enrique. Venezuela: Iva y Va repúblicas (1958–2006). Mérida, Venezuela: Publicaciones Vicerrectorado Académico; CDCHT, 2006.

Portillo, Gustavo. La crisis en tiempo de democracia: 1958–1960 y 1983. Caracas, Venezuela: Universidad Central de Venezuela, Consejo de Desarrollo Científico y Humanístico, 1998.

                           Ralph Lee Woodward Jr.

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