Caldera Rodríguez, Rafael Antonio

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Caldera Rodríguez, Rafael Antonio

Rafael Antonio Caldera Rodríguez (räfäĕl´ käldā´rä rôŧħrē´gās), 1916–2009, president of Venezuela (1969–74, 1994–99). A lawyer and professor of sociology, he was first elected to the chamber of deputies in 1941 and was a founder of the center-right Social Christian party in 1946. He was imprisoned several times during the dictatorial regime of Marcos Pérez Jiménez, which he opposed. After the dictator's overthrow, Caldera ran (1958) unsuccessfully for the presidency; he served instead as president of the chamber of deputies. In the elections of Dec., 1969, he won the presidency with barely 30% of the vote. Faced with an uncooperative congress, he had difficulty in getting legislation passed, but his granting of an amnesty to leftist guerrillas largely ended their uprising. He was awarded a life seat in the senate at the end of his term but was again elected president, this time as the candidate of the National Convergence party, when Carlos Andrés Pérez was removed from office on corruption charges in 1993. In his second term he confronted a severe banking crisis and imposed price and foreign exchange controls. Caldera's pardon (1994) of Hugo Chávez for his attempted coup (1992) against President Pérez enabled Chávez to run for and win the presidency in 1998.

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