Venezuela: A Thorny Road to Democracy
A recent history of the democratic process in Venezuela can be roughly divided into three main stages though admitting certain simplifications in the interest of a better visualization of the trend. The first stage is authoritarian, which, in fact, lasted half a century (from 1908 to 1958). During this period, the dictators Juan Vicente Gomez (1908–1935) and Marcos Perez Jimenez (1952–1958), in particular, were in power. In 1959, the process of democratization began in the country, during which the leaders of the main political parties were occupying the presidential chair within the terms stipulated by Constitution. This period lasted approximately 40 years. Then the «democratic curtain» over the internal political «theater» of Venezuela fell again. Amidst mass social unrest, the military came to power, though not as a result of a traditional military coup but through a legal, electoral way. Regardless, as subsequent events showed, a respect for democratic values was not part of their plans. The main purpose of this article is a brief review of the periods noted above, which, in our opinion, could clearly confirm the viability of the well-known thesis: «Democracy must be able to defend itself».
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