Rómulo Gallegos (rō´mōōlō gäyā´gōs), 1884–1969, Venezuelan novelist and statesman. Gallegos lived in Spain in voluntary exile from the Venezuelan dictatorship from 1931 until 1935. He returned to his country and was appointed minister of education, being elected president in 1948. In office for only a few months, he was overthrown by a reactionary military coup. He lived in Mexico until his return to Venezuela in 1958. He is best known as the author of the novel Doña Bárbara (1929, tr. 1931), about the Venezuelan plains. The landscape is essentially the protagonist of the novel, in which primitive barbarism is overcome by civilizing influences. Gallegos's other important works are two episodic novels, Cantaclaro (1931) and Canaíma (1935), and La Brizna de Paja en el Viento (1952).