Carlos Andres Perez, the fifty-one year old candidate of the centre-left Democratic Action Party (A.D.)?
Carlos Andres Perez, the fifty-one year old candidate of the centre-left Democratic Action Party (A.D.) was officially proclaimed the winner of the December 9th presidential election in Venezuela. The official proclamation was made last Friday (December 21) at a session of the Supreme Electoral Council.
Senor Perez will assume the presidency next March for a five year term. He succeeds retiring president Dr. Rafael Caldera of the Christian Democrat Party. It will also mark the return to power of the Democratic Action Party who held control of the government from the end of the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez in 1958 to its defeat by Dr. Caldera in 1968.
Twenty-one parties ran in the Congressional elections and there were thirteen candidates for president. But the only serious contenders were Senor Perez and Lorenzo Fernandez who was the choice of the Christian Democrats to succeed retiring Dr. Caldera.
The election was plagued with problems. An estimated 250,000 people were left off the voters list and thousands more had to travel many miles to vote. Many of the four-and-a-half-million voters had to line up for up to eleven hours in torrential rains to cast their ballot. Voting is compulsory in Venezuela.
In his speech to the Electoral Council, President-elect Perez promised to speed-up the programme to nationalise foreign-owned oil concessions. But he said oil would not be used as a weapon; rather it would be used to support Venezuela and Latin America. Perez said he would use oil to force removal of trade restrictions imposed by the United States. Senor Perez claimed U.S. President Richard Nixon's trade policy was unfair to Latin America. Venezuela, he said will cooperate with all joint efforts to alleviate poverty in Latin America and will support African and Asian initiatives to assist poor, Third World countries.
Left-wing radicals in Venezuela went underground when Senor Perez was elected and have declared war against his government. Senor Perez smashed the guerrilla movement in Venezuela in the early 1960's while Interior Minister. At the time, the Venezuelan guerrilla movement was among the strongest in Latin America.