Ex Venezuelan President Rafael Caldera Dies

Rafael Caldera, founder of right wing opposition party COPEI, signer of the Punto Fijo Pact, and president preceding Hugo Chavez, died on 24 December.

By Tamara Pearson - Venezuelanalysis.com
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Merida, December 27th, 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) –  Rafael Caldera, founder of right wing opposition party COPEI, signer of the Punto Fijo Pact, and president preceding Hugo Chavez, died on 24 December.

Caldera was president of Venezuela from 1969-1974 and from 1994-1999. He was a founding member of COPEI, the right wing opposition Christian democratic party, which was the dominant party in Venezuela along with Democratic Action (AD) from 1958. In this year, Caldera signed the Punto Fijo Pact with AD and the Democratic Republic Union party (URD), a pact which ensured power sharing between the dominant parties and which made it hard for any other parties to enter the political system.

In 1993 Caldera left COPEI and ran in the presidential elections with his new party, National Convergence. In his second term as president, though he had promised to never accept the help of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), following financial crisis, his government applied IMF neoliberal measures. He also increased the involvement of the private sector in the petroleum industry. These measures were met by large protests.

In 1994 he fulfilled his campaign promise and gave amnesty to Chavez, who was in prison following his failed 1992 military rebellion.

Caldera retired from politics in his last years due to poor health caused by Parkinson’s disease, and died on 24 December aged 93. He was buried yesterday.

Andres Caldera, the ex-president’s son, said Chavez had called him, “to give his condolences to the family.”

The Vatican also sent a note of condolence, and opposition members and ex Colombian president, Andres Pastrana, attended the wake.