Rafael Caldera

Rafael Caldera Rodríguez ( born January 24, 1916 in San Felipe, Yaracuy, Venezuela, † December 24, 2009 in Caracas ) was a Venezuelan politician and served 1969-1973 as well as 1994 and 1998 President of the country. He was a founding member of COPEI, the Christian Democratic Party of Venezuela. Caldera was instrumental in Venezuelan politics in the second half of the 20th century.

The Early Years

Caldera came from a household of the middle class and studied law in Caracas. At the age of 20 he founded the student movement UNE, who opposed the dictatorship of the then head of state Eleazar López Contreras. Caldera was in 1941 elected to the Chamber of Deputies and sat down at this time for the rights of workers a.

The introduction of democracy in Venezuela

1943 Caldera resigned his political office and became a professor at the Institute of Law of the University of Caracas. 1946 however, he returned to politics and was elected as a member of a commission to draft a new constitution. Caldera was there a major role in the legal texts on workers' rights and protection of human life. This 1947 adopted new constitution was regarded as one of the most advanced in Latin America.

In the presidential elections of 1947 Caldera first appeared as a candidate for the office of head of state, but lost. On October 14, 1947 Caldera founded with several other politicians COPEI (Comité de Organización Política Electoral Independiente ), the Christian Democratic Party of Venezuela and was its first chairman. In the same year he was again elected to the Chamber of Deputies.

In 1948 a military junta under Marcos Pérez Jiménez in a coup to power. Thereupon the whole COPEI Group withdraws from parliament because they would not cooperate with the coup leaders. Although elections were held in 1951, but the result was annulled because the ruling military junta in this case did not reach majority. In subsequent protests Caldera was arrested and sat for a few months in prison.

1958 ended the dictatorship of Pérez Jiménez and so came on 31 October, three of the major parties of the country (AD, COPEI and URD ) together to make a pact to defend and preserve the Constitution. This should prevent a new dictatorship and put further notes that the future government should be a government of national unity based on the smallest common denominator. This "Pact of Punto Fijo ", named after Caldera's residence with the same name, formed the basis for the division of power of the two major parties COPEI and AD by the 1958 to 1993.

In the subsequent elections in 1959, Caldera ran as presidential candidate, losing to Romulo Betancourt of the social democratic AD. 1963 Caldera lost again against the AD, this time against Raúl Leoni.

Caldera's first term in office (1969-1973)

1969 Caldera was elected head of state, although the COPEI had no majority in parliament. Caldera, however, managed to form a stable government. He had a general amnesty for the still numerous existing guerrilla fighters. Another focus of his tenure was the resolution of the so-called Betancourt Doctrine, which Venezuela no diplomatic relations with countries allowed, whose head has not come through democratic means to power. So Caldera took on, among others, relations with Argentina, Cuba, Panama and the Soviet Union during his tenure. In 1970, he allowed the hitherto banned Communist Party. Another focus of his policy were reforms in the oil industry, the country 's premier industry. Since the former Venezuelan Constitution did not permit re-election of President Caldera could not compete for re-election in 1973. He was succeeded by Carlos Andrés Pérez of AD.


Almost twenty years remained active caldera in Venezuelan politics, but without having held high office. 1979 to 1982 he was chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. In 1983 he failed for the fifth time in an attempt to be elected president, this time against Jaime Lusinchi of the AD. In 1987, he even lost the presidential nomination within his party.

The second term of Carlos Andrés Pérez ( 1988-1993 ) was marked by neoliberal elements and introduced on 27 February 1989 on a well-known as the Caracazo uprising in the capital, Caracas. Pérez failed to calm the political mood and his neo-liberal course was not able to slow the downward spiral of the economy. 1992 and 1993 there were several coup attempts, one among others, which was led by future President Hugo Chavez. On 21 May 1993 Pérez was deposed after a grave suspicion of corruption, a transitional period under Ramón José Velásquez began.

Caldera's second term (1994-1998)

In the same year Caldera resigned from the COPEI and founded the Alliance CD - Convergencia Democrática, a center-left coalition of smaller parties, including the Communist Party PCV. In 1994 he won the presidential elections with this alliance and so took over the office of his great rival, who inherited it in 1973. Caldera did succeed in stabilizing the political situation, but needed to take drastic measures. These included government intervention in the private banks and a suspension of foreign exchange export. This left the confidence of foreign investors fall and brought temporarily a large, hardly expected economic downturn. Caldera, who did not want to cooperate with the International Monetary Fund for a long time, accepted the help of the IMF, with which he was able to stabilize the economic situation. However, the IMF called for a re- orientation towards neoliberal policies, the caldera accepted only reluctantly.

This second term of Caldera had both negative and positive aspects. He succeeded indeed to end the inflamed towards the end of the term Pérez uprisings and to keep the economy and the country's social systems towards the end of his own term of office at a very stable level. However, the economic unrest led towards the middle of his term of office to the fact that over 70 000 small and medium enterprises went bankrupt and impoverished much of the population.

At the elections of 1998, the 82 -year-old Caldera did not start for reasons of age. Was succeeded by Hugo Chávez, who was arrested in 1992 after a coup against Pérez and Caldera released in 1994 from prison. Calderas CD Alliance currently holds only a single seat in parliament.

Rafael Caldera wrote numerous books and received the 1998 " Path to Peace " - Award for Lifetime Achievement. He was married to Alicia Pietri and had six children, of whom one, Juan José Caldera, for the state Yaracuy is still active in politics.