AD Coup in Venezuela 1945

[ 1945 ]

To the surprise of many, he chose Diógenes Escalante, a liberal civilian serving as ambassador in Washington. A delighted AD agreed to support Escalante's candidacy. Medina's opposition on the right, however, which had expected former President López to receive the nomination, was incensed by the choice. Fear was in the air during the summer of 1945, as rumors circulated that the forty-six-year-long rule by tachirenses was about to be ruptured by a civil war between the lopecistas and medinistas (followers of López and Medina). Escalante soon became too ill to pursue the presidency, however, and his announced replacement was a colorless figure widely regarded as a puppet of Medina. Ironically, it was not the lopecista right that brought the era of tachirense rule to a close. Instead, on October 18, 1945, the AD in conjunction with junior military officers suddenly overthrew Medina.

The conspiracy to overthrow Medina had been hatched inside the Patriotic Military Union (Unión Patriótica Militar--UPM), a secret lodge of junior officers who were disgruntled over the persistence of cronyism and the lack of professionalism within the tachirense senior ranks. These officers had invited AD to join their plot in June and asked Betancourt to serve as the president of the new government. AD did not agree to cooperate with the UPM, however, until after the October 1 announcement of Medina's replacement for Escalante.

After the coup, Betancourt named a seven-man governing junta consisting of four adecos (members of AD), two military officers, and one independent. AD thus controlled the government, and the UPM controlled the military. All officers who had attained ranks above major before the 1945 rebellions--Carlos Delgado Chalbaud, Julio Vargas, and Marcos Pérez Jiménez--were hence promptly sent into retirement. Political reform was the first item on the junta's agenda, and in March 1946, it decreed a sweeping new electoral law. Universal suffrage for all citizens over eighteen, including women, at last became law. All political parties were legalized, and the number of congressional seats was to be apportioned according to each party's percentage of the total vote...

Organized labor was the largest and most cohesive of the mass-based political pressure groups that had emerged since the mid-twentieth century. Effectively stifled under military and dictatorial rule, labor did not begin to affect the political balance until the early 1940s. Labor backed the October 1945 coup and benefited much from the short-lived AD government (1945-48). Unionization proceeded apace...

Related Conflicts

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