Initially, the territory of Venezuela was inhabited by the Indian tribes of the Caribs, Arawaks and Chibcha. They were mainly engaged in agriculture and fishing. In 1498, Christopher Columbus first set foot on these lands and already in 1499 the Spanish conquistadors arrived here. Among them was the traveler Amerigo Vespucci. Seeing the local villages, which were built on rivers and stood on stilts, he exclaimed: “Look, little Venice!”, which in Spanish sounded like “Venezuela”. Hence the name of the country. The first European settlement was founded here in 1520. The Spaniards became engaged in agriculture, growing sugar cane, cocoa and tobacco.
At the beginning of the 19th century, a liberation war unfolded in America in all the Spanish colonies, led by Simon Bolivar. Its result was the proclamation in 1821 of the independent Republic of Great Colombia, which included Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador. 10 years later, after the death of Simon Bolivar, Venezuela withdrew from its composition and became an independent republic. But this did not lead to political stability; in subsequent years, military coups were constantly taking place in the country and more and more generals were in the presidency. Check a2zdirectory for old history of Venezuela.
At the beginning of the 20th century, under the rule of General Juan Vincente Gomez, oil fields were discovered in Venezuela. American and British corporations were called in to develop them. Foreign capital began to flow into the country, which improved its economy, but it became completely dependent on the price of oil. It became more profitable for peasants to work for oil companies than to cultivate the land. This led to the decline of agriculture, most of the food products were imported from other countries and their prices increased significantly.
By the 40s of the 20th century, a powerful party of liberals had formed in the political circles of Venezuela, who were not satisfied with the policy of the Venezuelan generals and who were striving for new reforms. In 1945, with the support of liberals, a revolution took place in the country. The new government was headed by Romulo Betancourt. Over the next three years, the liberals were able to carry out agricultural reform and return the peasants to agriculture. The successes of the liberals and their far-reaching plans caused a wave of indignation among numerous political groups that had grown stronger in the conditions of political freedom provided by the liberals. In 1948, another military coup took place in the country, as a result of which a military junta came to power. The military attempted to hold elections, however, preliminary results showed that the majority of votes against the junta, after which the elections were suspended, and in 1953 Colonel Marcos Perez Jimenez was appointed to the presidency. The 5-year dictatorship of Jimenez was marked by mass arrests of oppositionists, many of them simply fled the country. In 1958, on the eve of new elections, unrest began to grow in Venezuela, which were brutally suppressed by the government. But still, power in the country was seized by another military group, which allowed the exiled oppositionists to return to the country.
In the elections held in 1958, former Liberal President Romulo Betancourt won. At first, the rule of the liberals was marked by a rapid economic upsurge, in the mid-70s the nationalization of oil companies was carried out and the state treasury was immediately filled with “petrodollars”. But later, as a result of the decline in world oil prices and the growth of Venezuela’s external debt, the country was on the verge of a crisis.
The liberals held power until the end of the 20th century, until the appearance on the political arena of Hugo Chavez, who led a patriotic movement that enlisted the support of the poor. Hugo Chavez was elected president in 1999, he immediately announced his intention to change the entire state system and headed for socialism. Chavez achieved emergency powers in the legislative sphere and in the economy, fought corruption, and even achieved the adoption of a new Constitution. These goals were achieved through a tough fight against those who disagree, moreover, the president did not spare even the highest authorities: the Supreme Court and the National Congress. Despite this, in 2002, the opposition nevertheless attempted a military coup, but it was not successful. Most of the army supported Hugo Chavez, and the rebel generals were arrested. In 2006, Chávez was elected president for the second time, and in January 2009 he made a proposal to remove the term limit for the president of Venezuela. A general referendum was held on this issue, in which the president was supported by the majority of the country’s inhabitants.
Throughout the world, Hugo Chavez is known for his tough anti-American stance. Although the US is one of the largest consumers of Venezuelan oil, the President of Venezuela strongly condemns US foreign policy and calls on other countries to “anti-imperialist” struggle. Hugo Chavez even coined the term “axis of good” as opposed to the phrase “axis of evil” used by George W. Bush. Chavez refers Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia to the “axis of goodness”. On the basis of common hostility towards the United States, Venezuela is strengthening its financial, political and military partnership with these countries.
Today, Venezuela is one of the most dynamically developing countries in Latin America, but about 90% of its budget is formed from oil revenues, so it is entirely dependent on world prices for “black gold”.