Antonio Guzmán Blanco

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Antonio Guzmán Blanco
Martin Tovar y Tovar 20.JPG
President of Venezuela
In office
15 September 1886 – 8 August 1887
Preceded byJoaquín Crespo
Succeeded byHermógenes López
In office
26 February 1879 – 26 April 1884
Preceded byJosé Gregorio Valera
Succeeded byJoaquín Crespo
In office
27 April 1870 – 27 February 1877
Preceded byGuillermo Tell Villegas
Succeeded byFrancisco Linares Alcántara
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
24 July 1867 – 3 October 1867
PresidentJuan Crisóstomo Falcón
Preceded byRafael Seijas
Succeeded byRafael Seijas
In office
21 January 1864 – 6 February 1864
PresidentJuan Crisóstomo Falcón
Preceded byGuillermo Tell Villegas
Succeeded byAntonio María Salom
In office
25 July 1863 – 7 August 1863
PresidentJuan Crisóstomo Falcón
Preceded byJesús María Morales Marcano
Succeeded byGuillermo Tell Villegas
Personal details
Born(1829-02-28)28 February 1829
Caracas, Great Colombia
Died28 July 1899(1899-07-28) (aged 70)
Paris, France
Resting placeNational Pantheon of Venezuela
Political partyLiberal Party
SpouseAna Teresa Ibarra

Antonio José Ramón de La Trinidad y María Guzmán Blanco (28 February 1829 – 28 July 1899) was a Venezuelan military leader, statesman, diplomat and politician.[1] He was the president of Venezuela for three separate terms, from 1870 until 1877, from 1879 until 1884, and from 1886 until 1887[2] and General during the Venezuelan Federal War.

He was a member of the movement known as Liberalismo Amarillo.

Early life and education[edit]

Guzmán was born in Caracas as the son of Antonio Leocadio Guzmán, a Venezuelan journalist, politician as well as founder of the Liberal Party and Carlota Blanco Jerez de Aristeguieta.[citation needed]


Military career and ambassador[edit]

He was banished by the administration of General Julián Castro, and accompanied General Juan Crisóstomo Falcón in his invasion of Venezuela, becoming his general secretary. After the final defeat of Falcón at the Battle of Coplé in September, 1860, Guzmán accompanied his chief in his flight, and was sent to the West Indies to solicit assistance. Toward the end of 1861 he landed again with Falcón on the coast of Coro, and after numerous engagements signed on 22 May 1863, the Treaty of Coche, by which arms were laid down, and a general assembly called at La Victoria, which elected Falcón president and Guzmán vice president. Guzmán was at the same time Minister of Finance,[3] and went to London to negotiate a loan.[citation needed]

In 1863, he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela.[citation needed]

On 7 August,[citation needed] 1863, Guillermo Tell Villegas was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores)[clarification needed][4] when he temporarily assumed the role of Guzman during Guzman's absence.[4] Tell Villegas remained the 65th Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela until 21 January 1864,[citation needed] when Guzman returned to the role to finish out his term.[citation needed]

Guzman was the Venezuelan ambassador to Spain from 1863 until 1866.[5]

1868-1877: Return to Venezuela and president[edit]

Upon his return he was for a short time in charge of the executive, and afterward was elected president of congress. After the overthrow of Falcón in 1868, Guzmán left the country, but headed a revolution in 1869, and in 1870 became provisional president with extraordinary powers, ruling the country for seven years as a dictator.

In 1871 Blanco created by decree the Territorio Colón (Columbus Territory) which included Los Roques and other adjacent islands.[citation needed]

The Palacio Federal Legislativo, also known as the Capitolio, is a historic building in Caracas, Venezuela which now houses the National Assembly. It was built in 1872 by Guzman to a design by the architect Luciano Urdaneta Vargas.[6] In 1876, under Guzmán, the Universidad de Caracas was moved to the Palacio de las Academias building, whose former colonial façade was rebuilt in the Neo-Gothic style.[7]

1878-1884: Second term as president[edit]

Guzman (center forefront) and his cabinet

His successor, General Francisco Linares Alcántara, died in office in December, 1878, and there were several revolutionary uprisings, till Guzmán assumed the government again.[citation needed]

Free and compulsory education for ages 7 to 14 was established by decree on 27 June 1880, under President Guzmán, and was followed by the creation of the Ministry of Public Instruction in 1881, also under Guzmán Blanco.[8] In 15 years from 1870, the number of primary schools quadrupled to nearly 2000 and the enrolment of children expanded ten-fold, to nearly 100,000.[9] Falcón Zulia was a state of Venezuela created by initiative of Guzmán in 1881.[citation needed]

He established the Order of the Liberator on 14 September 1880, which was the highest distinction of Venezuela and was appointed for services to the country, outstanding merit and benefits made to the community.[citation needed] "Gloria al Bravo Pueblo" (Glory to the Brave People) was adopted as Venezuela's national anthem by Guzmán on 25 May 1881.[citation needed]

In the elections of 1883 General Joaquín Crespo, one of his friends, was declared president, and Guzmán became ambassador to France, living with great ostentation in Paris.[citation needed]

1885-1899: Third and final term[edit]

In 1886, he again assumed the presidency.[citation needed]

During the rule of Guzmán as governor of a few states (from 1871) in the late 1880s when he was known by the epithet "Illustrious American", Venezuela witnessed all round development (development of Caracas is largely attributed to him) and coffee production in Venezuela increased rapidly as there was an additional support in the form of loans from foreign countries.[10][11]

According to some historians, Guzmán Blanco led a fairly steady Venezuelan government that was allegedly ripe with corruption.[12] Guzmán Blanco reportedly stole money from the treasury, abused his power, and, after a disagreement with a bishop, expelled any clergy who disagreed with him and seized property belonging to the Catholic Church.[13][14] When facing severe disapproval during his administration, Guzmán Blanco ordered the body of Simon Bolivar to be exhumed and reburied in the National Pantheon of Venezuela to espouse Bolivar's ideals, despite the two men's opposing views.[15]

His successor, the undistinguished Hermógenes López, was also understood to be under his influence.[citation needed]

Politics and legacy[edit]

Guzman near the end of his life in 1895.

The autocratic nature of Guzmán's regimes was in sharp contradiction with the economic and legal reforms as well as with the achievements brought about. His government was responsible for the creation of the modern currency (bolívar), the restoration of the national anthem, the second national census, the La Guaira and Caracas Railway, the foundation of the Venezuelan Academy of the Language, the telephone service between Caracas and La Guaira, promotion of agriculture and education (Decree of Public and Obligatory Instruction of 1870), stimulus to commerce, and important public works (the National Pantheon, the Capitol, and the Municipal Theater, among others.)

According to historian Charles L. Davis, Guzman has been referred to as an example of a strongman politician.[16]

Also a freemason,[17] he sharply reduced the power of the Roman Catholic Church in Venezuela while in office.

Personal life[edit]

Guzmán was married to Ana Teresa Ibarra Urbaneja, who served as First Lady of Venezuela from 1870 until 1877,[citation needed] 1879 until 1884, and 1887 until 1888. Due to his marriage he was brother in law with María Ibarra Urbaneja, who married Venezuelan banker Manuel Antonio Matos[citation needed] He is buried in Passy Cemetery in France.

Antigua tumba de Guzmán Blanco. Cementerio de Passy, París

After a hundreds years, his remains now rest at the National Pantheon.[citation needed]

Towards the end of the nineteenth century Guzmán built a country house in the region of Antímano, calling it "La Pequeña Versalles" (Little Versailles). Despite being declared a National Monument, the house fell into disuse after Guzman's death and was eventually restored in 2004, the building being turned into a sociocultural complex and sports facility.[18]


See also[edit]


  • public domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1891). Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton. {{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Tarver Denova, Hollis Micheal (2005). The history of Venezuela. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 82–. ISBN 978-0-313-33525-9. Retrieved 12 May 2013.


  1. ^ "Antonio Guzmán Blanco". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Antonio Guzmán Blanco". VenezuelaTuya. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  3. ^ Hacienda, Venezuela Ministerio de (16 September 1965). "Revista de hacienda". Ministerio de Hacienda. – via Google Books.
  4. ^ a b "Guillermo Tell Villegas". Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  5. ^ (in Spanish) Luis Pérez Pescador, "Jefes de Misión de Venezuela en España" Venezuela ahora, Embassy of Venezuela in Spain, September 2008, pp. 17–19
  6. ^ "Palacio Federal Legislativo de Venezuela (Capitolio Federal)", Caracas (in Spanish) Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  7. ^ Dr. Leopoldo Briceño Iragorry, junior, "El Paraninfo del Palacio de las Academias, Personajes", Gaceta Médica de Caracas. (in Spanish) Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  8. ^ Sanchez (1963:19)
  9. ^ Sanchez (1963:20)
  10. ^ Denova 2005, p. 70.
  11. ^[bare URL PDF]
  12. ^ Levin, Judith (2007). Hugo Chavez. New York: Chelsea House. p. 119. ISBN 978-0791092583.
  13. ^ Lewis, Paul H. (2006). Authoritarian regimes in Latin America : dictators, despots, and tyrants. Lanham, Md. [u.a.]: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 62. ISBN 978-0742537392.
  14. ^ Marshall, Paul A., ed. (2008). Religious freedom in the world. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 424. ISBN 978-0742562134.
  15. ^ Arana, Marie (17 April 2013). "Latin America's Go-To Hero". New York Times.
  16. ^ Davis, Charles L. (2015). Working-Class Mobilization and Political Control: Venezuela and Mexico. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 42. ISBN 978-0-8131-6280-5.
  17. ^ Denslow, William R. (1957). 10,000 Famous Freemasons. Columbia, Missouri, USA: Missouri Lodge of Research. (digital document by phoenixmasonry: vol. 1, 2, 3, 4)
  18. ^ Radio Nacional de Venezuela, 30 July 2004, 11.18pm (in Spanish) Inauguran centro sociocultural y deportivo Casa de Campo Guzmán Blanco Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by 64th Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela
25 July 1863 – 7 August 1863
Succeeded by
Preceded by 66th Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela
21 January 1864 – 6 February 1864
Succeeded by
Preceded by 71st Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela
24 July 1867 – 3 October 1865
Succeeded by