Rómulo Gallegos

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Gallegos and the second or maternal family name is Freire.
Rómulo Gallegos
Rómulo Gallegos 1940s.jpg
President of Venezuela
In office
17 February 1948 – 24 November 1948
Preceded by Rómulo Betancourt
Succeeded by Carlos Delgado Chalbaud
Senator for life
In office
23 January 1961 – 5 April 1969
Personal details
Born (1884-08-02)2 August 1884
Caracas, Venezuela
Died 7 April 1969(1969-04-07) (aged 84)
Caracas, Venezuela
Political party Acción Democrática
Spouse(s) Teotiste Arocha Egui (1888-1950)
Religion Roman Catholic

Rómulo Ángel del Monte Carmelo Gallegos Freire (2 August 1884 – 7 April 1969[1]) was a Venezuelan novelist and politician. For a period of some nine months during 1948, he was the first cleanly elected president in his country's history.

Early life and writings[edit]

Rómulo Gallegos was born in Caracas to Rómulo Gallegos Osío and Rita Freire Guruceaga, into a family of humble origin. He began his work as a schoolteacher, writer, classical music enthusiast, and journalist in 1903. His novel Doña Bárbara was first published in 1929, and it was because of the book's criticisms of the regime of longtime dictator Juan Vicente Gómez that he was forced to flee the country. He took refuge in Spain, where he continued to write: his acclaimed novels Cantaclaro (1934) and Canaima (1935) date from this period. He returned to Venezuela in 1936 and was appointed Minister of Public Education.

Political career[edit]

In 1937 he was elected to Congress and, in 1940–41, served as Mayor of Caracas. In 1945, Rómulo Gallegos was involved in the coup d'état that brought Rómulo Betancourt and the "Revolutionary Government Junta" to power, in the period known as El Trienio Adeco. In the 1947 general election he ran for the presidency of the republic as the Acción Democrática candidate and won in what is generally believed to be the country's first honest election because its universal, direct and secret character. He took office in February 15, and was noted for raising the state's tax revenue for oil profits increase from 43% to 50%, a tax scheme known as "fifty / fifty" and which was subsequently replicated in several producing countries as Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless army officers Carlos Delgado Chalbaud, Marcos Pérez Jiménez and Luis Felipe Llovera Páez, threw him out of office in November in the 1948 Venezuelan coup d'état. He took refuge first in Cuba and then in Mexico. Gallegos returned to his country after the fall of the dictatorship of Marcos Pérez Jiménez in 1958, but he would no longer be engaged in politics.

He was able to return to Venezuela in 1958. He was appointed a senator for life, awarded the National Literature Prize (1958, for La doncella), and elected to the Venezuelan Academy of the Language (the correspondent agency in Venezuela of the Spanish Royal Academy).[2]

From 1960 to 1963, he was a Commissioner of the newly created Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (created by OAS in Washington on 18 August 1959), and he was also its first President (1960) a position he held until 1963.


He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1960, largely due to the efforts of Miguel Otero Silva, and gained widespread support in Latin America,[3] but ultimately lost out to Saint-John Perse. The Rómulo Gallegos international novel prize was created in his honor in 1964, with the first award being made in 1967.

Personal life and death[edit]

Gallegos was married to Teotiste Arocha Egui,[citation needed] who served as First Lady of Venezuela in 1948.[citation needed] Rómulo Gallegos Freire died in Caracas on 5 April 1969.[citation needed]

Published works[edit]

Venezuelan Presidential election 1947
Candidates Votes
Rómulo Gallegos 871,752
Rafael Caldera 262,204
Gustavo Machado 36,587
  • El último Solar (1920) (alternative title:Reinaldo Solar)
  • La trepadora (1925)
  • Doña Bárbara (1929)
  • Cantaclaro (1934)
  • Canaima (1935) (also published in English, 1988 ISBN 0-8061-2119-X)
  • Pobre negro (1937)
  • El forastero (1942)
  • Sobre la misma tierra (1943)
  • La rebelión (1946)
  • La brizna de paja en el viento (1952)
  • Una posición en la vida (1954)
  • El último patriota (1957)

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Gallegos: Doña Bárbara / Donald Leslie Shaw., 1972
  • Rómulo Gallegos: an Oklahoma encounter and the writing of the last novel / Lowell Dunham., 1974
  • Nine essays on Rómulo Gallegos / Hugo Rodríguez-Alcalá., 1979
  • Three Spanish American novelists a European view / Cyril A Jones., 1967
  • Sociopolitical aspects of the novels of Rómulo Gallegos / Earl Leon Cardon., 1962
  • The function of symbol in the novels of Rómulo Gallegos / Jeannine Elizabeth Hyde., 1964


  1. ^ Fundación Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos Rómulo Gallegos
  2. ^ Real Academia Española / Academia Venezolana de la Lengua
  3. ^ Jeannine Hyde (1960), "Rómulo Gallegos and the Nobel Prize in 1960", Hispania, Vol. 43, No. 2 (May, 1960), pp. 241-242
  • DUNHAM, LOWELL. 1990: "Cartas familiares de Rómulo Gallegos". Cuadernos Lagoven. Lagoven, S.A. Caracas - Venezuela.
  • MORON, GUILLERMO. 1979: "Los presidentes de Venezuela 1811–1979". Meneven, S.A. Caracas - Venezuela.
  • ROMERO MARTÍNEZ, VINICIO. 1987: "Mis mejores amigos". Editorial Larense. Caracas - Venezuela.
  • SUBERO, EFRAÍN. 1984: "Aproximación sociologica a la obra de Rómulo Gallegos homenaje en el centenario de su nacimiento".Cuadernos Lagoven. Lagoven, S.A. Caracas - Venezuela.
Political offices
Preceded by
Rómulo Betancourt
President of Venezuela
Succeeded by
Carlos Delgado Chalbaud