Leoni, Raúl

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Raúl Leoni (räōōl´ lāō´nē), 1905–72, president of Venezuela (1964–69). As a student (1921) he was jailed for political activity and during the next 37 years was several times exiled. He returned to Caracas after the overthrow of President Pérez Jiménez in 1958, was elected to the senate, and became leader of the Democratic Action party. As president, he continued Rómulo Betancourt's social and economic reforms and launched an ambitious program to develop the interior. His succession by Rafael Caldera, a Social Christian, marked the first time in Venezuelan history that power was peacefully transferred to a member of an opposition party.