Gustavo Machado Morales

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For the Brazilian fighter, see Gustavo Machado.
Machado (left) in 1929 with Rafael Simón Urbina

Gustavo Machado Morales (19 July 1898 - 17 July 1983[1]) was a Venezuelan politician and journalist, editor of the Communist Party of Venezuela's newspaper from 1948 to 1983 (with interruptions for exile and imprisonment) and President of the party from 1971 to 1983. As a leading Communist, he spent a substantial part of his life in exile or in prison. He was a founder member of the Venezuelan Revolutionary Party in February 1927, a forerunner of the Communist Party of Venezuela (founded in 1931). He was a member of the Generation of 1928 - activists opposing the dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gómez. During the 1945-8 democratic period he was a member of the Constituent Assembly and a candidate in the 1947 presidential election for the Communist Party. He was elected to the Venezuelan Chamber of Deputies four times, serving there for fifteen years.


Machado was born into a wealthy Venezuelan family, the son of Carlos Machado and María Morales.[2] At age 16 he participated in the National Assembly of Students, and organised the first demonstration against the dictator Juan Vicente Gómez. Arrested in May 1914, he spent ten months in prison before being released.[2] He went on to study law from 1916 to 1919 at the Central University of Venezuela, when he went into exile following his involvement in the unsuccessful conspiracy of Luis Rafael Pimentel.[1][3]

Fort Amsterdam in Curaçao

He studied law at Harvard and at the Sorbonne, where he met his wife, graduating from the Sorbonne in 1924.[1] As a legal representative of the Cuba Cane Sugar Corporation he moved to Cuba, where he observed student unrest with interest, and in 1925 participated in the founding of the original Cuban Communist Party (later renamed Popular Socialist Party). From 1926 to 1929 he lived in Mexico.[2] A member of the French Communist Party, in Mexico he was a co-founder in exile of the Venezuelan Revolutionary Party in February 1927.[1] He participated in Rafael Simón Urbina's June 1929 taking of Fort Amsterdam in Curaçao, in another failed attempt to overthrow Gómez involving 250 men.[4] This attempt involved the kidnapping of the governor of Curaçao, Leonardus Albert Fruytier.[4]After this raid he went into exile in Colombia with Urbina and others revolutionaries. On his return to Venezuela in 1935 he was imprisoned again, but was released on 14 February 1936 following popular pressure.[1][2] Following a public declaration of communism in March 1936 he was expelled from Venezuela on 13 March 1937,[3] returning to exile in Mexico.[1]

Machado returned to Venezuela again in 1944 and began distributing Mexican and Soviet films and explained plans of creating a Communist organization.[5] Following the 1945 Venezuelan coup d'état, Machado was one of two Communists elected to the new Constituent Assembly in the 1946 election. He was a candidate in the 1947 presidential election for the Communist Party, receiving 3.3% of the vote,[6] and was elected to the Venezuelan Chamber of Deputies in the 1947 elections.[2] In 1948 he founded the newspaper Tribuna Popular, the daily of the Communist Party,[3] and was its director until his death, with the exception of the periods 1951 to 1958 (due to exile) and 1963 to 1968 (due to imprisonment).[1] After the 1948 Venezuelan coup d'état had brought to an end the three-year democratic period known as El Trienio Adeco he was imprisoned again in 1950, and expelled from the country in 1951.[3]

Following the restoration of democracy in 1958, Machado was elected to the Venezuelan Chamber of Deputies in the 1958 elections.[1] On 30 September 1963, following the banning of the Communist Party of Venezuela by the government of Rómulo Betancourt, Machado was arrested,[1] and despite parliamentary immunity as an elected deputy was convicted by a military tribunal.[2] He spent five years in prison.[1] In 1964 he declined an offer to be released if he went into voluntary exile.[1] He was released in May 1968 following international pressure,[1] and was again elected to the Venezuelan Chamber of Deputies in the 1968 elections and 1973 elections.[3] After the Unión Para Avanzar was renamed Communist Party of Venezuela in 1970, he was elected president of the party in 1971, and remained its president until 1983.[3]

A biography, Gustavo Machado: un caudillo prestado al comunismo (by José Agustín Catalá and Domingo Alberto Rangel) was published in 2001 by Ediciones Centauro. Another, by Manuel Felipe Sierra, (Gustavo Machado) was published by El Nacional in 2006. Another, Gustavo Machado de oligarca a comunista, 1914/1974 by José Carlos Mariátegui, was published by Ediciones Centauro in 1975.

He received an honorary doctorate from the University of the Andes (Venezuela) in 1981.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m (Spanish) Mariandry Laclè, YVKE Radio Mundial, 18 July 2010, Nace Gustavo Machado, líder contemporáneo venezolano
  2. ^ a b c d e f (Spanish) Lino Morán Beltrán, Lorena Velásquez y Vileana Meleán (2005), Gustavo Machado y los orígenes del marxismo en Venezuela, Revista de Filosofía, v.23 n.49. University of Maracaibo.
  3. ^ a b c d e f (Spanish) Fundacion Jose Guillermo Carrillo, Gustavo Machado Morales, Diccionario Histórico Biográfico Editado por la Fundación Polar Caracas, Venezuela
  4. ^ a b (Spanish), Rafael Simón Urbina
  5. ^ "Venona". National Security Agency. 6 July 1944. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  6. ^ Nohlen, D (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume II, p555 ISBN 978-0-19-928358-3