Guzmán Blanco, Antonio

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Guzmán Blanco, Antonio

Guzmán Blanco, Antonio (äntōˈnyō go͞osmänˈ blänˈkō), 1829–99, president of Venezuela, a caudillo who dominated the nation from 1870 to 1888. Son of the founder of the Liberal party, Guzmán Blanco was a magnetic and energetic figure with considerable diplomatic and administrative ability. He became a general in the revolution that deposed José Antonio Páez and was vice president (1863–68) in the Liberal administration that followed. In 1870 he led a successful counterrevolution against Monagas and was elected president. A benevolent despot, he alternately suppressed and supported the Church; he was a foe of civil liberties but made free education compulsory; he reformed governmental administration and instituted many public works that brought material advancement to Venezuela. The egocentric Guzmán Blanco filled Venezuela with portraits and statues of himself. Several times he relinquished his office to make diplomatic and pleasure trips to Europe but kept control of the country through presidential puppets, notably Joaquín Crespo. In 1888, when he was abroad, his power was destroyed by revolution. He spent the rest of his life in Paris.


See biography by G. S. Wise (1951, repr. 1970).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Guzmán Blanco, Antonio


Born Feb. 29. 1829. in Caracas; died July 28, 1899. in Paris. Venezuelan government figure and general. A jurist by education.

Guzmán served as vice-president and, at the same time, minister of finance and foreign affairs from 1863 to 1868. He seized power in 1870 and for 18 years was the de facto dictator of the country, ruling in violation of the constitution and relying on the army for support. His administration granted concessions to foreign companies for the exploitation of mineral resources and the building of railroads. At the same time, hoping to gain the support of the masses. Guzmán pursued an anticlerical policy. His government closed monasteries and confiscated their property and introduced civil marriage and registration of births and deaths, all of which led to conflict with the church. Finally, in 1887. he was forced to resign and emigrate.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.