When Rómulo Betancourt died in 1981, it marked the end of a tumultuous and highly controversial career in Latin American politics. He was one of Venezuela's most important political figures of all time-arguably more important than Simon Bolivar. Periods of exile brought Betancourt into contact with various Latin American countries as well as the United States, securing his legacy as one of the few truly international leaders to emerge in twentieth-century Latin America.
Rómulo Betancourt, "the father of Venezuelan democracy," was twice president of Venezuela-from 1945 to 1948 and again from 1959 to 1964.
In 1948, Marcos Pérez Jiménez overthrew the constitutionally elected president Rómulo Gallegos, and Betancourt was forced into exile. He returned a decade later, after Perez Jimenez was ousted, and was elected president for the second time. Betancourt faced determined opposition from extremists and rebellious army units, yet he continued to push for economic and educational reform. The material included dates from 1917 to 1981, and contains correspondence, official documents, and news clippings.
The material in this collection presents the depth and range of documentation essential for understanding the basis of Venezuela's democratic heritage, their struggle to move from dictatorships to institutionalized political parties, and the democratic reforms advocated and enacted by them. This archive contains substantial documentation concerning the radicalization of student movements in the early 1960s, a tendency opposed by Betancourt although in his youth he engaged in such activities. This activist economic agenda included the construction of Ciudad Guayana.