Ramón José Velásquez

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Ramón J. Velásquez
Ramón J Velásquez 1993.jpg
Ramón J. Velásquez in 1993
President of Venezuela
In office
5 June 1993 – 2 February 1994
Preceded byOctavio Lepage (acting)
Succeeded byRafael Caldera
Minister of Communications of Venezuela
In office
Secretary of the Presidency of Venezuela
In office
Succeeded byManuel Mantilla
Personal details
Born28 November 1916
San Juan de Colón, Táchira, Venezuela
Died24 June 2014(2014-06-24) (aged 97)
Caracas, Venezuela
Ligia Betancourt Mariño
(m. 1948; died 2008)
Alma materCentral University of Venezuela

Ramón José Velásquez Mujica (28 November 1916 – 24 June 2014) was a Venezuelan politician, historian, journalist, and lawyer. He served as the president of Venezuela between 1993 and 1994.

Background and personal life[edit]

Velásquez was born in Táchira in November 1916. His parents were Ramon Velasquez Ordoñez, a journalist and proofreader for a newspaper and educator Regina Mujica. For his initial studies he was home schooled by his parents in his hometown. He completed his primary education in San Cristóbal Simón Bolívar. In 1935 he traveled to Caracas to finish high school at the Liceo Andres Bello. Velasquez undertook his higher education at the Central University of Venezuela, from which he received a PhD in social and political sciences in 1942 and a law degree in 1943.


Velásquez became a reporter for Últimas Noticias in 1941.[1] Velásquez was the president of El Nacional on two occasions (1964-1968/1979-1981).

As a historian, he had previously subscribed to the usual negative opinions of the Venezuelan dictator Juan Vicente Gómez, but re-examined them in Confidencias imaginarias de Juan Vicente Gómez (1979). (When he became president, he presided over a ceremony renaming Juan Vicente Gómez International Airport in Gómez' honour.)[2] He authored numerous books on Venezuela's political history, being generally considered in his lifetime as Venezuela's foremost Historian. He was President of the National Academy of History.


During the dictatorship of Marcos Pérez Jiménez, Velásquez was jailed for a year for his role at the compilation of the Libro negro de la dictadura (Black book of dictatorship). The files of this book helped expose the crimes of the dictatorial period.

In 1958, as Venezuela transitioned to democracy, Velásquez was elected to the Venezuelan Senate for the state of Tachira, and later to the Venezuelan Chamber of Deputies for the state of Miranda.[3]

Velásquez and the COPAF's members in Bogota in 1991.

He served as Secretary General (Chief of Staff) of the Presidency during the government of Rómulo Betancourt. After that, he was part of the National Congress. During Rafael Caldera's Presidential administration, Velásquez served as Minister of Communications from 1969 until 1971. From 1984 to 1987 he was President of the Comisión para la Reforma del Estado (COPRE), the Commission on the Reform of the State.[3] Between 1989 and 1993, he chaired the "Comisión Presidencial para Asuntos Fronterizos con Colombia", Presidential Commission for border issues with Colombia (COPAF). At the time of his death, he was a board member of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation.[4]


In 1993, as a result of the crisis produced by the impeachment of President Carlos Andrés Pérez, Congress appointed Velásquez President of the Republic, finishing the constitutional period in 1994. He served from 5 June 1993 to 2 February 1994. As a highly respected national figure there was general consensus around his name for such a task.[3] In August Velásquez held an emergency meeting to respond to the tropical storm Bret's heavy damage that leaves at least 70 dead.[5] About 1,400 workers and volunteers helped in rescue efforts after the mudslides struck Caracas and surrounding areas,[6] assisted by Red Cross volunteers and 800 firefighters. Storm victims were temporarily housed at the Fuerte Tiuna army base.[7] Roads were quickly cleared of debris and mud, although many were not reopened initially due to the threat for additional mudslides.[8] The government was overshadowed by the so-called narcoindulto to trafficker Larry Tovar Acuña, in this case the Private Secretariat of the Presidency obtained irregularly signed by the President for the release to a known drug dealer. Other events under his brief government include the bankruptcy of Banco Latino with subsequent leakage of foreign currency abroad and tragedy of Tejerías. Among his governmental measures was the introduction of Value Added Tax as part of the Enabling Act entrusted to the National Congress.

Velásquez's cabinet (1993–1994)[edit]

Ministry of Interior Carlos Delgado Chapellín 1993–1994
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Fernando Ochoa Antich 1993–1994
Ministry of Finance Carlos Rafael Silva 1993–1994
Ministry of Defense Iván Darío Jiménez Sánchez 1993
Radamés Muñoz León 1993
Rafael Montero Revette 1993–1994
Ministry of Development Gustavo Pérez Mijares 1993–1994
Ministry of Transport and Communications José Domingo Santander 1993–1994
Ministry of Education Elizabeth Yabour de Caldera 1993–1994
Ministry of Justice Fermín Mármol León 1993–1994
Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons Alirio Parra 1993–1994
Ministry of Environment Adalberto Gabaldón Azuaje 1993–1994
Ministry of Agriculture Hiram Gaviria 1993–1994
Ministry of Labor Luis Horacio Vivas 1993–1994
Ministry of Health and Social Assistance Pablo Pulido Musche 1993–1994
Ministry of Urban Development Henry Jattar Senior 1993–1994
Ministry of Family and Youth Teresa Albánez 1993–1994
Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic Ramón Espinoza 1993–1994
Office of Coordination and Planning Hernán Anzola Jiménez 1993–1994
CVG Francisco Layrisse 1993–1994

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1948, Ramón José Velásquez married Ligia Betancourt Mariño (1920 – 14 July 2008)[9] who served as First Lady of Venezuela from 1993 to 1994. On 24 June 2014 Velásquez died at the age of 97 from natural causes. He died 5 weeks after former President Jaime Lusinchi did on 21 May 2014.



  • Coro. Raíz de Venezuela (1962)
  • San Cristóbal. Donde la Patria empieza (1972)
  • La caída del Liberalismo Amarillo. Tiempo y drama de Antonio Paredes (1972)
  • Aspectos de la evolución política de Venezuela en el siglo XX (1976)
  • Confidencias Imaginarias de Juan Vicente Gómez (1978)
  • Individuos de Número (1981)
  • Los héroes y la Historia (1981)
  • Los pasos de los héroes (1988)
  • Con segunda intención. Reportajes en tiempos de dictadura 1951-1955 (1990)
  • Memorias de Venezuela (1990)
  • Los alemanes en el Táchira (1993)
  • Joaquín Crespo (2005)
  • Memorias del Siglo XX (2005)
  • Caudillos, historiadores y pueblo (2013)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 18 June 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Ellner, Steve (1995), "Venezuelan Revisionist Political History, 1908-1958: New Motives and Criteria for Analyzing the Past", Latin American Research Review, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 91-121. p100
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i (in Spanish) CIDOB, Ramón José Velásquez Mújica
  4. ^ "Board and International Council". The Human Rights Foundation. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  5. ^ "100 Killed as a Tropical Storm Batters Venezuela". New York Times. 9 August 1993. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  6. ^ Alberto Garnica (8 August 1993). "Bret leaves at least 70 dead in Venezuela". United Press International. – via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  7. ^ "Una tormenta tropical causa la muerte a 100 personas en Venezuela". El Pais (in Spanish). 9 August 1993. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  8. ^ Vivian Sequera (9 August 1993). "Rains Over, Fear of Mudslides Remains; Cholera, Dengue Alert". Associated Press. – via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  9. ^ Bello, Heraclio Atencio (2008). Nuestra cultura gastronómica: Origen, influencias y mestizajes. ISBN 9789806761049.
  10. ^ Columbia, Cabot Prize winners by name Archived 30 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ (in Spanish) Academia Venezolana de la Lengua, D. Ramón J. Velásquez

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by President of Venezuela
Succeeded by