Guzmán Blanco, Antonio

Guzmán Blanco, Antonio äntōˈnyō go͞osmänˈ blänˈkō [key], 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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