Juan Vicente Gómez (July 24, 1857 - December 17, 1935) was a military general and the ruler of Venezuela from 1908 until his death in 1935. He was president on three occasions during this time, and ruled as an unelected military strongman for the rest of the era.
On April 19, 1914, Gómez ostensibly stepped down from office in favor of provisional president Victoriano Márques Bustillos, though he continued to rule the country from his home in Maracay. He returned to office in 1922, ruling until April 22, 1929. Though he was reelected to a new term of office by the Congress, he declined to return to the capital, and Juan Bautista Pérez assumed the presidency, though Gómez remained the final authority in the country. On June 13, 1931, Congress forced Perez to resign, and elected Gómez president again. This time, he resumed office, ruling the country until his death.
On the debit side, he is one of the prominent examples to the early US rule in Latin America. During his rule, most of the country's wealth ended up in the hands of Gómez, his henchmen, and Wall Street. Indeed, at the time of his death, he was by far the richest man in the country. He did little for public education and held basic democratic principles in disdain. Although cordial and simple in manner, his ruthless crushing of opponents through his secret police earned him the reputation of a tyrant. He was also accused of trying to make the country a personal fief.
Former Venezuelan President Rómulo Betancourt said in his book Venezuela : Oil and Politics that "(...) Gomez was something more than a local despot, he was the instrument of foreign control of the Venezuelan economy, the ally and servant of powerful outside interests". This is in reference to Royal Dutch Shell and Standard Oil's appeasement of the dictator in return for exploitation rights of the country's oil fields.
In Venezuelan politics, Juan Vicente Gómez has come to symbolize political endurance and a caudillo mentality. He was quoted as saying he needed a lifetime to fulfill his political work.
Foreign Support for Venezuelan Political Exiles during the Regime of Juan Vicente Gomez: The Case of Mexico, 1923-33
Jun 22, 2007; THE HISTORY OF LATIN AMERICA is littered with examples of the direct and indirect involvement of the United States in the...