Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Part I: Backgrounds
 Part II: Education
 Part III: Public sector of the...
 Part IV: Private sector of the...
 Part V: Agrarian reform
 Part VI: Bibliographical sourc...

Title: Caribbean: Venezuelan development
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00103010/00001
 Material Information
Title: Caribbean: Venezuelan development
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Conference on the Caribbean, 1962 : University of Florida)
Publisher: University of Florida Press
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Copyright Date: 1963
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00103010
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 1382483
lccn - nuc67001768

Table of Contents
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Table of Contents
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
        Page xvii
        Page xviii
        Page xix
        Page xx
        Page xxi
        Page xxii
        Page xxiii
        Page xxiv
    Part I: Backgrounds
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
    Part II: Education
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
    Part III: Public sector of the economy
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
    Part IV: Private sector of the economy
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
    Part V: Agrarian reform
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
    Part VI: Bibliographical sources
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
Full Text






A publication of the
which contains the papers delivered at the thirteenth conference on the Carib-
bean held at the University of Florida, December 6, 7, and 8, 1962

%i *

LL, 1


edited by A. Curtis Wilgus


A University of Florida Press Book





NETTIE LEE BENSON, Librarian, Latin American Collection, Uni-
versity of Texas, Austin
ARMANDO BRANGER, President, Federation of Chambers of Com-
merce and Industry, Caracas, Venezuela
FRANCISCO DE VENANZI, Rector, Central University of Venezuela,
JOHN F. GALLAGHER, Vice President, Foreign Administration, Sears,
Roebuck &8 Company, Chicago
VICTOR GIMENEZ LANDINEZ, Minister of Agriculture, Caracas
ARMANDO R. GONZALEZ, President, Farm Workers' League, Caracas
HARRY A. JARVIS, President, Creole Petroleum Corporation, Caracas
HARRY W. JONES, Director of Latin American Affairs, Westinghouse
Electric International Company, New York
BENITO RAiL LOSADA, General Director, Ministry of Finance,
EDUARDO MENDOZA G., Vice President, Protinal C. A., Caracas
EUGENIO MENDOZA, Materiales Mendoza, Caracas
LORENZO MONROY, General Director, Ministry of Education, Caracas
TEODORO Moscoso, Director, Alliance for Progress, Department of
State, Washington, D. C.
PETER R. NEHEMKIS, JR., Counsel, Whirlpool Corporation, Wash-
ington, D. C.
ALEJANDRO OROPEZA CASTILLO, Governor of the Federal District,
J. WAYNE REITZ, President, University of Florida
IRVING ROUSE, Chairman, Department of Anthropology, Yale Uni-
versity, New Haven, Connecticut
ENRIQUE TEJERA PARiS, President, Industrial Bank, Caracas
ARTURO USLAR PIETRI, Member, Venezuelan Senate for the Federal
District, Caracas
SANTIAGO VERA IZQUIERDO, Dean, Engineering Faculty, Andres
Bello Catholic University, Caracas

vi The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
GAST6N VIVAS BERTHIER, President, Cotton-Growers' Chamber,
GUSTAVO J. VOLLMER, President, Santa Teresa Industries, Caracas
A. CURTIS WILGUS, Professor of History and Director, School of
Inter-American Studies, University of Florida
GUILLERMO ZULOAGA, Member, Board of Directors, Creole Petro-
leum Corporation, Caracas


W E, AT THE UNIVERSITY of Florida, believe that the
Thirteenth Annual Caribbean Conference held in December, 1962,
is not only unique in many ways but will be remembered as a
series of meetings in which almost one hundred Venezuelans par-
ticipated in discussions on a most important topic, namely, "Vene-
zuelan Development, A Case History." Fifteen Venezuelan experts
in government, business, and education presented papers in their
individual fields of interest which lent an authentic tone to all
of the meetings.
At no previous conference have we had the privilege of intimate
discussion with so many leading authorities on the topics presented
in the program. We also enjoyed the privilege of having seven
representatives from the United States prepare and deliver con-
ference papers. Moreover, simultaneous translation was provided
in Spanish and English, and audience participation was enthusiastic
and most important. It is not surprising, therefore, that this con-
ference was more widely attended, both as to delegates and geo-
graphical spread, than previous ones.
The undoubted success of this conference was made possible by
the complete and enthusiastic cooperation of the Creole Petroleum
Corporation with headquarters in Caracas. We deeply appreciate
the splendid and intelligent cooperation of this company.
As with past conferences, the papers contained in this volume of
proceedings are published in an attractive format by the University
of Florida Press, which enjoys a wide reputation for the excellence
of its book designing and typography.

J. WAYNE REITZ, President
University of Florida

The Caribbean Conference Series

Volume I (1951): The Caribbean at Mid-Century

Volume II (1952): The Caribbean: Peoples, Problems, and

Volume III (1953): The Caribbean: Contemporary Trends

Volume IV (1954) : The Caribbean: Its Economy

Volume V (1955) : The Caribbean: Its Culture

Volume VI (1956) : The Caribbean: Its Political Problems

Volume VII (1957): The Caribbean: Contemporary International

Volume VIII (1958): The Caribbean: British, Dutch, French,
United States

Volume IX (1959): The Caribbean: Natural Resources

Volume X (1960): The Caribbean: Contemporary Education

Volume XI (1961): The Caribbean: The Central American Area

Volume XII (1962): The Caribbean: Contemporary Colombia

Volume XIII (1963): The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development,
A Case History


Map of Caribbean Area . Frontispiece
List of Contributors . v
Foreword-J. WAYNE REITZ vii
(1879-1942)-A. CURTIS WILGUS . Xi

3. Arturo Uslar Pietri: THE CITY OF GOLD AND THE CITY OF

5. Francisco De Venanzi: THE ROLE OF THE AUTONOMOUS
6. Santiago Vera Izquierdo: THE ROLE OF PRIVATE EDUCATION

7. Alejandro Oropeza Castillo: THE GOVERNMENT AND THE
9. Enrique Tejera Paris: THE NEEDS AND THE FUTURE OF IN-
10. Eugenio Mendoza: THE HOUSING PROBLEM .111



x The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development


18. Eduardo Mendoza G.; AGRICULTURE: THE KEY TO DEVEL-
19. Victor Manuel Gim6nez Landinez: OBJECTIVES AND RE-

INDEX . 297



AT THE PAN AMERICAN UNION in Washington, D. C., on
August 24, 1943, the American republics paid tribute to a distin-
guished Venezuelan statesman and a leading authority on inter-
American relations, who for twelve years (1924-36) had served as
Assistant Director of the Pan American Union. The tribute con-
sisted of unveiling a portrait, draped with a Venezuelan flag, of
this great son of Venezuela. Before an audience that filled the
room, Dr. Gil Borges' successor, Assistant Director of the Pan Ameri-
can Union Dr. Pedro de Alba, began the ceremony by recalling in
his inimitable fashion the brilliant public career of Dr. Gil Borges.
The Director-General of the Pan American Union, Dr. Leo S.
Rowe, then expressed sentiments of affection and esteem for his
good friend and colleague. His Excellency, Dr. Di6genes Escalante,
Ambassador of Venezuela to the United States, removed the Vene-
zuelan flag from the portrait and expressed his personal and his
country's feelings concerning Dr. Gil Borges. The ceremony ended
when the Director-General and the Assistant Director of the Pan
American Union placed a wreath of flowers before the portrait.
A few days after the ceremony the Minister of Foreign Affairs of
Venezuela, Dr. C. Para Perez, sent a cablegram to Dr. Rowe ex-
pressing his personal feelings and the feelings of the Venezuelan

xii The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
government and people for the commemoration sentiments which
so well expressed opinions of inter-Americanists everywhere.
This ceremony at the Pan American Union was only one of
many following the death of Dr. Gil Borges. On October 7, 1942,
at a special session of the Governing Board of the Pan American
Union, one of the actions was the adoption of a resolution of con-
dolence which the Director-General was asked to transmit to the
government of Venezuela and to the family of Dr. Gil Borges.
Many notices of the death of the great Venezuelan are found in
popular periodicals and scholarly journals throughout the Americas.
His innumerable friends remembered his outstanding contributions
in the field of inter-American relations, for he had devoted much
of his life to improving mutual respect among the American
peoples and governments. Dr. Gil Borges' reputation was world-
wide and everywhere he was recognized as one of the leading
statesmen of the Americas. The present writer enjoyed the pleas-
ure, privilege, and honor of working with Dr. E. Gil Borges on a
number of occasions in Washington, and he is happy to have the
opportunity to acknowledge his personal regard for this great
Venezuelan statesman.
It seems especially fitting here in this volume on the history of
Venezuelan development to associate Dr. Gil Borges' name with
leading Venezuelan diplomats, statesmen, businessmen, and others
(many of them his friends) who present collectively their individual
opinions concerning the multitudinous national and international
problems of an emerging Latin American country. The survey
herewith of the life and activities of Dr. Gil Borges clearly proves
that he is worthy to be ranked among the contemporary leaders of
national and international reputation in present-day Venezuela.


Dr. E. Gil Borges was born in Caracas on February 8, 1879. After
graduating from the Colegio Villegas in Caracas he entered the
National University of Venezuela in 1892. Here he studied po-
litical and social sciences and in 1898 obtained his doctorate, with
special interest in international public and private law and inter-
American affairs. Although Dr. Gil Borges was to devote his en-
tire life to public service he greatly enjoyed his home life. He
married Matilda Martinez Paz Castillo and three children were
born to them.

In 1900, at the age of 21, he was appointed counselor on ques-
tions of international law to the Venezuela-Colombian Mixed Fron-
tier Commission. After two years with this body he was appointed
Commissioner of the Supreme Court of the Federal District and in
1903 he became President of this Court. But Dr. Gil Borges' educa-
tion prepared him for more important positions. In 1909 he be-
came first secretary and in 1911 Councilor of the Venezuelan Em-
bassy in Washington. In 1914 he became Councilor of the
Venezuelan Embassy in Paris and the next year he was put in
charge of his government's diplomatic negotiations in Spain. In
1916 he became Juridical Councilor of the Ministry of Foreign
Relations of Venezuela, and three years later, in 1919, he was ap-
pointed Minister of Foreign Relations. In 1921, when the statue of
Sim6n Bolivar was dedicated in New York City, Dr. Gil Borges was
appointed Special Ambassador to this inauguration.
In 1924 Dr. E. Gil Borges was honored by the American republics
by being elected Assistant Director of the Pan American Union in
Washington. He served for twelve years until 1936, when at that
time he again became Minister of Foreign Relations of Venezuela,
in which position he remained until his death in 1942.
This brief recital of a number of important positions held by
Dr. Gil Borges does not do adequate justice to his wide influence.
During two periods of his life, Dr. Gil Borges served as Professor
at the University of Caracas. From 1903 to 1909 he taught a
variety of subjects at the National University including history,
sociology, political economy, and the philosophy of law. In 1918 he
became Professor of International Law and Diplomacy at the
National University. At this institution he was a popular lecturer,
and his wide knowledge of international affairs and especially inter-
American relations enabled him to win many students in support
of improved inter-American cooperation. Dr. Gil Borges was also
a cultural missionary and a great proponent of the American way
of life. He never missed an opportunity to promote the cultural
and economic interests of his native country.
Dr. Gil Borges was a forceful public speaker, and he never
spoke more brilliantly than when he was before a popular audi-
ence. An example of his delight at public appearances is evident
from reports in the New York Times of April and May, 1921, on
the occasion of the presentation of the statue of Sim6n Bolivar
to the city of New York. As special envoy of Venezuela to the
United States, and as Minister of Foreign Affairs, he was given

xiv The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
a typical New York welcome. The statue was in Central Park and
Grover Whalen organized a parade up Fifth Avenue. Dr. Gil
Borges was the first to speak and the New York Times reported
that he "presented the statue with a flow of oratory that awakened
Monsieur Viviani, master of French oratory, and considered the
finest orator in the world." The mayor of New York City, John
F. Hylan, accepted the gift for the city and praised Bolivar with
only slightly less brilliance than did Gil Borges, using fewer words,
however. President Harding was almost late for the ceremony but
he finally arrived to make an address, pleading for a spiritual union
between North and South America and reaffirming that the United
States was ready to fight for the Monroe Doctrine. President
Harding and his important pronouncements, especially regarding
the forthcoming naval disarmament conference in Washington, at-
tracted world-wide attention to this ceremony.
From New York City Dr. Gil Borges travelled for two weeks
in various parts of the United States. In Chicago he expressed the
desire that trade might develop between Venezuela and the Mis-
sissippi Valley. He referred especially to industrial manufacturing
in the Middle West and the use of raw materials from Venezuela.
He added simply: "We need what America has, and you want
what we have."
Because of the remarks made at the dedication of the Bolivar
statue, General Juan Vicente G6mez, President of Venezuela, de-
cided to ask for the resignation of Dr. Gil Borges from the position
of Minister of Foreign Affairs. Observers immediately jumped to
the conclusion that General G6mez was unhappy because Dr. Gil
Borges had praised Bolivar too much and President G6mez too
Fortunately for Gil Borges, and for the cause of Pan-American-
ism in general, he now decided to leave Venezuela and take up
residence in Washington, D. C. This he did in October, 1921,
hoping to join the law firm organized by Breckinridge Long, who
had served as Third Assistant Secretary of State under President
Woodrow Wilson. It was while Dr. Gil Borges was in Washington
that he was elected Assistant Director of the Pan American Union
to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Dr. Francisco J. Yanes,
another Venezuelan.
Dr. Gil Borges' contribution to inter-American peace and good
will in this strategic position was made through many speeches and
addresses, but especially through special studies and reports which

he prepared as Assistant Director. His interests ranged over all
topics of an inter-American nature. In 1927, for example, he was
instrumental in organizing with a number of scholars in Washing-
ton discussions which culminated in the creation in 1930 of the
Inter-American Bibliographical and Library Association. In this
connection he helped to organize the program for a conference on
bibliography to be held in Havana in February, 1930. Because this
conference did not convene, Dr. Gil Borges decided to appoint an
advisory committee on bibliography for the Pan American Union,
on which the writer was pleased to serve. As long as Dr. Gil Borges
remained in Washington, he was interested in bibliographical and
library activities.
After the death of President G6mez in December, 1935, the
Minister of War, General Eleazar L6pez Contreras, became Pro-
visional President and eventually President. Reforms were needed
everywhere and the new executive appointed Dr. Gil Borges Min-
ister of Foreign Affairs in February, 1936. Dr. Gil Borges served
until his death in 1942. One of his contributions to the govern-
ment of Venezuela at this time was that he brought about a re-
organization of the Department of Foreign Affairs and abolished
bureaucratic bickering. He believed that Venezuela could now
put into effect some of the ideas of Bolivar's dream of 1826 at the
Congress of Panama. He now became one of the outspoken ex-
ponents of inter-American friendship and cooperation. This ob-
jective he considered first and foremost in Venezuela's foreign
relations, and in 1939 he informed the League of Nations that his
country was withdrawing from that organization.
Fortunately for the Inter-American System, Dr. Gil Borges was
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela during the meeting of
several important inter-American conferences. On September 23,
1939, the Pan American Conference on Neutrality met in Panama,
and on October 2 the delegates signed the "Declaration of Panama,"
which presented a united front to the belligerents and which created
a "safety zone" about the continents, exclusive of Canada. Dr.
Gil Borges played an important part in these discussions and his
ideas were always considered with respect. This conference also
created an Inter-American Financial and Economic Advisory Com-
mittee of twenty-one financial experts, one from each country, to sit
in Washington beginning November 15, 1939, and to continue for
the duration of the war. The conference further provided for the
meeting of an Inter-American Neutrality Committee of seven mem-

xvi The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
bers to study and make recommendations concerning neutral prob-
lems for the duration of the war.
From July 21 to 30, 1940, another Conference of Foreign Min-
isters was held, this time in Havana, Cuba. At this meeting, the
United States delegation was headed by Secretary of State Cordell
Hull, while Dr. Gil Borges attended as Minister of Foreign Affairs
of his own country. At the meetings a plan presented by Dr. Gil
Borges was adopted by the delegates as "Resolution XV," which
made provision for close collaboration among the American re-
publics, collectively or in groups, if aggression was threatened
against any one of them.


Throughout his entire career, Dr. Gil Borges led a quietly active
life. His friends were frequently amazed at the depth and breadth
of his thinking as expressed in speeches, conversation, and writings.
During his busy life he maintained membership in scholarly acad-
emies, societies, and associations throughout the hemisphere, and
in a few of these organizations he played an active part. Dr. Gil
Borges' many talents were widely recognized and he received a
doctorate honors causa from Georgetown University. Many
decorations were presented to him, including the Order of the
Liberator of Venezuela, the Order of Isabel la Cat6lica of Spain,
the Order of the Sun of Peru, the Order of Merit of Chile, the
Order of Merit of Ecuador, the Vasco Nifiez Medal of Panama, the
Manuel de Cespedes Medal of Cuba, and the Medal of the House
of Orange of Holland.
The publications of Dr. Gil Borges are too numerous to list
here. These, however, range through all phases of national and
international law, especially the codification and unification of
national and international law, the evolution of international law,
the various arbitral problems between American states, and the
philosophy and history of law.
An appreciation of Dr. Gil Borges' contributions in the inter-
American field was aptly summed up by Sumner Welles, one-time
Under-Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs. In a cable
dated August 4, 1942, sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of
Venezuela, Mr. Welles said: "During the years Dr. Gil Borges was
in Washington, he endeared himself to all those who had the good
fortune to be associated with him. His untiring devotion to the

strengthening of the friendship between Venezuela and the United
States and to the great cause of inter-American relations, and his
brilliant practical demonstrations of that devotion during his two
periods as Foreign Minister of your great country have earned him
a lasting place in the grateful memory of the people of the United
In March, 1936, when Gil Borges gave up his position as As-
sistant Director of the Pan American Union to become Minister
of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, Cordell Hull, Secretary of State
of the United States, paid tribute to him in a message to the
Governing Board of the Pan American Union: "During the twelve
years that he has occupied this important post, he has proved him-
self a devoted servant to the cause of Pan-Americanism. In the
fulfillment of his duties, he has given evidence of ability of the
highest order. His fine personal qualities have endeared him to
every member of the Board. On this occasion I wish to express to
Dr. Gil Borges, in your name as well as in my own, the deep sense
of appreciation of the Board for the important service that he has
rendered and to combine therewith our warmest wishes for the
fullest measure of success in the fulfillment of the important duties
which the President of Venezuela has entrusted to him."
Dr. Leo S. Rowe, Director-General of the Pan American Union,
had this to say: "I feel under a special debt of gratitude to him
for his constant and loyal cooperation. During the twelve years
that we have worked together, his broad statesmanlike outlook
has been of the greatest value in the fulfillment of the functions
entrusted to the Union. Venezuela may well congratulate herself in
securing for the high post to which he has been called the services
of a man of broad vision and high ideals."
Dr. Gil Borges was much moved by the tributes paid to him
at this meeting, and he expressed his warm appreciation for the
fine cooperation that members of the Governing Board had given
to him and to Dr. Rowe, and thanked them individually and col-
lectively. Dr. Gil Borges said, among other things, "By means of
the unremitting effort of the Governing Board, the Pan American
Union has come to be a symbol of the spirit of the Americas, a
tangible expression of a civilization mounting to a historical height
whence may be discerned a future of peace, justice, liberty, and of
social and political perfection for the nations of this hemisphere.
There is no one but must admire the builders of this work of
peace and concord and look confidently to the future of the under-




The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development

taking in whose service so many minds work harmoniously together
to broaden and strengthen this great organization of the Pan
American Union, already one of the most effective forces in pro-
moting the peace and happiness of America and the world."

In the brief space allowed here it is not possible to do justice
adequately to the views and opinions of Dr. Gil Borges on the
great variety of topics and subjects in which he was interested and
which he discussed both orally and in writing, characterized by an
exceptional command of English language and style. However, a
few quotations taken from Chapter V in a volume entitled Mod-
ern Hispanic America, edited by myself and published by the
George Washington University Press in 1933, will suffice. The
chapter is historical and is entitled "The European Policy of
Equilibrium and the American Policy of Continental Solidarity."
It is divided into four sections, the first entitled "The Spiritual
Heritage of America." In speaking of the ideological factors in
Hispanic American international policy, Dr. Gil Borges wrote:
Though the contribution of Hispanic America to civilization
in the fields of art, science, philosophy, and literature has been
great, its greatest services have been rendered in the political and
international fields. The noblest part of the mission of Hispanic
America has been the effort, continued without interruption
throughout a century by her statesmen, philosophers, and people,
to build in the New World a society of nations which might live
in accordance with the ideals of democracy, international peace,
and fraternity. These are the firmest, the strongest, the most
permanent threads in the fabric of Hispanic American civilization,
and thought and action have moved steadily onward along these
lines. They are threads which reach deep into the past and far
into the future of the race; they stand out unbroken and luminous
against the background of the history of the people.
Of all the elements of civilization which Spain brought to the
New World, none had greater historical significance, none had a
more profound influence on the formation of the national and
international conscience of America than these two ideals; of de-
mocracy as the basis of the political society, and of human soli-
darity and fraternity as the foundation of the international society
(pp. 338-39).
In the second section of Dr. Gil Borges' paper entitled "The


European System" he emphasizes the importance of the concept of
the balance of power.
At the end of the fifteenth century certain events took place
which had a far-reaching influence on international relations. They
were the discovery of the New World and the opening of new
routes to the Orient. The civilization that had started in Asia and
then transplanted and developed in the basin of the Mediterranean
entered with the discovery of America on a period of trans-oceanic
This period brings into international relations the principle of
colonial expansion. In time this principle became the source of
conflicts, and the formula of international action between Spain
and Portugal in America is born out of the effort to reconcile the
differences between them in the matter of colonial expansion.
While the power of the national states was growing, international
relations gave rise to new uses of that system of balance of power
which had its origin in the Greek cities and which was later used
by the Italian cities of the thirteenth century. The system assumed
two forms in Europe: of mutual guaranties, and of alliances of the
weaker to resist the stronger. The first form inspired the treaties
of Westphalia, Utrecht, and Vienna; the second the war against
Charles V, the war against the House of Austria, and the wars
against Louis XIV and Napoleon.
The system of balance of power has been a method devised to
establish or to re-establish equilibrium. Alliances to counteract
the growing strength of a single power have been one of the most
frequent forms in which the balance of power idea is found. The
League of Cambrai was formed to destroy the prosperity of Venice;
the alliance of England and France was formed against the growing
power of Holland; and at the beginning of the eighteenth century,
the alliance of the northern states of Europe was for the purpose
of weakening the power of Sweden. The application of this system
has unavoidably resulted in territorial partitions and in rectification
of boundaries (pp. 354-55).

Section three of Dr. Gil Borges' paper is headed "The American
System," with a subtitle, "Solidarity and International Coopera-
tion." Dr. Gil Borges first discusses the American background and
in so doing says about his own country:

Venezuela declared her independence on the 5th of July, 1811,
and signed, in the same year, a treaty with the Department of
Cundinamarca, part of the Viceroyalty of Santa F6. In this, the
first international treaty of Spanish America, a plan is outlined


xx The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
for the "Union of all the Nations that may be Established in
America." An analogous treaty was signed by Venezuela and Chile
in 1811. In these treaties we can see the deeply rooted conscious-
ness of American solidarity planning the basis of continental
unity before the birth of the republics; it was this very faith in
the unity of Latin America which was to shape reality out of
Utopia, and which gave cohesion to the movement of emancipa-
tion. From north to south, the independence of the continent was
achieved through the formula of cooperative military and political
One of the most memorable documents of this epoch is the ac-
count of the campaign of 1813 given by Bolivar to the Congress of
Colombia assembled in the city of Cartagena. He spoke in part
as follows: "The lessons given by the experience of others should
not be lost to us. The spectacle presented by Europe, steeped in
blood in an endeavor to establish a balance which is forever
changing, should correct our policy to save us from such sangui-
nary dangers." Instead of that "continental balance of power which
Europe is seeking where it is less likely to be found, that is, in
war," he advocates a "union of all South America under a national
body so that a single government may unite the great resources of
the continent for a single purpose . while an intensification
of mutual cooperation in the interior will lift us to the summit of
power and prosperity" (pp. 363-64).
Dr. Gil Borges' next discussion concerns "Hispanic American
Policy." He defines this as follows:
The broad lines of Hispanic American policy include the fol-
lowing points: (a) a system of conferences to consider questions of
common interest to all the nations of America; (b) the organiza-
tion of a league of nations upon the basis of the unity of moral,
political, economic, and spiritual interests; and (c) the organiza-
tion of continental peace through the medium of the codification
of public and private international law, uniformity in civil law,
mediation, conciliation, arbitration, abolition of war, and the re-
nunciation of the right of conquest (p. 370).
The third division of this section is entitled "Juridical Organi-
zation," and he says:
The nations of Latin America were conscious from the be-
ginning that one of the strongest ties that preserve international
unity is that of identical institutions. Her statesmen had a clear
vision of an America united by uniform institutions of law in
civil, commercial, and maritime matters. They undertook this

work with technical ability, and gave models of uniform legislation
to the world.
The fourth subheading is entitled "The Territorial Basis of the
Hispanic American States." He begins this by saying:
At the birth of their existence as independent states, the colonies
of Spain had to determine the boundaries of their territories. The
new republics inherited the Spanish empire, but that empire had
been a great political entity, whose sole frontiers were adminis-
trative divisions, the lines of which were almost always indefinite
and uncertain. As a consequence, the determination of frontiers
has been for more than a century a problem that has injected
much danger and perplexity into the international life of the
American states (p. 383).
During the wars for independence from the mother countries
the emerging governments agreed on the Uti Possidetis of 1810
whereby each state was to retain the boundaries which it had had
in colonial days. On this Dr. Gil Borges writes:
The two phases of the doctrine of uti-possidetis were in this
manner definitely fixed: one, the exterior aspect, was founded upon
the treaties concluded by Spain, and which were now considered
the basis for the demarcation of frontiers with foreign powers
possessing colonies in America; the other, the interior aspect, was
founded on the royal decrees which had established the adminis-
trative division known as the viceroyalties and captaincies general,
and which were now considered the basis for the demarcation of
the national frontiers between the American states.
The doctrine of uti-possidetis de jure was not a mere political
expedient or convenient method for the distribution of territories
and the demarcation of frontiers. It has, in reality, transcendental
historical and juridical significance. Together with the Monroe
Doctrine, this formula has been a barrier to the colonization of
South American territory by foreign powers. The doctrine of uti-
possidetis de jure and the Monroe Doctrine have the same end in
view, but are differentiated by their origin and form. The Monroe
Doctrine was a unilateral national formula; that of uti-possidetis de
jure was an international juridical formula. The doctrine of Mon-
roe was a negative formula closing America to foreign colonization;
the doctrine of uti-possidetis was a positive, assertive, inclusive
formula. It included all the territory legitimately possessed by
Spain by virtue of the fact of discovery and the titles and treaties
which became the patrimony of the American states.
Another consequence of the doctrine of uti-possidetis was that

xxii The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
it recognized a common title of sovereignty over the territory to
all the American states that had taken form out of the colonial
empire of Spain. This fact, of a common title to the territory,
made any act of any European or American states which affected
the validity of the title a matter of common concern to all the
American states. Each state was vitally interested, not only in
maintaining the integrity of its own territory, but in maintaining
the integrity of the territory and sovereignty of all the American
states, for the origin of its right was identical with that of the
other states. Thus it was that, with the doctrine of uti-possidetis,
there arose as a corollary the doctrine of the collective guaranty of
the territory of the American states. The reciprocal guaranty of
territorial integrity was a direct consequence of the doctrine of
uti-possidetis, and the two were consequences of the common tra-
dition and the common origin of the American nations.
The territorial policy of the American states did not crystallize
out of the speculations of philosophers or out of the theories of
statesmen. It was born out of historical realities and its origin lies
deep in the secular traditions of America. The international policy
of Hispanic America has continuity and permanence principally be-
cause it has been an interpretation of the realities of American life.
The international policies of Hispanic America, territorial as well
as political, economic as well as cultural, express the fundamental
geographic, historical, economic, and spiritual unity of America.
This explains why every movement in Latin America is a develop-
ment of that ideal of unity which we have seen is so deeply im-
bedded in the past, which has been so faithfully kept through
more than a century of history, and which is the goal of the future
(pp. 390-92).
The fifth and last section is devoted to "The Organization of
Peace in Hispanic America." Here Dr. Gil Borges discusses the
codification of international law, the renunciation of war as a
method for the settlement of international controversies, the sys-
tem of guaranties, the principle of nonintervention, methods for
the prevention and the pacific settlement of international contro-
versies, and sanctions to enforce international obligations. Dr. Gil
Borges provides a tabulated summary of treaties and agreements
among the American states to enable them peacefully to solve their
mutual difficulties. As a historical writer, Dr. Gil Borges surveys
the panorama of the international relations of the American re-
publics; in his time no man had a better grasp and understanding
of this intricate subject.



The influence and impact of Dr. Gil Borges on the interpretation
and formulation of international law in relation to the American
republics cannot yet be completely judged. The complicated
problems of the international relations of the nations today tend
to obscure many of the individual points of view and ideology
maintained by statesmen of the American republics prior to World
War II. Perhaps no other Latin American, and certainly no
Venezuelan, gave more thought to the innumerable inter-Ameri-
can problems or expressed more profound opinions with beneficial
results than did Dr. Gil Borges. Throughout his whole life, Dr.
Gil Borges was respected and admired, and his views and opinions
were sought, not only by his own countrymen but also by those
throughout the Western Hemisphere and in other parts of the
world. His influence in the Pan American Union as Assistant
Director cannot be underestimated. His constant attempts to pro-
mote inter-American unity and peace must be considered and
weighed by every person who proposes to write and to study inter-
relations of the states of the Western Hemisphere, whether political,
economic, social, or cultural. Undoubtedly in the not too distant
future, graduate students in universities throughout the hemisphere
will attempt, and it is hoped will succeed, in evaluating the position
of Dr. Gil Borges in the complicated but important field of inter-
American relations.

School of Inter-American Studies

Note. Information for this chapter has come from a variety of sources, in-
cluding my own memories of pleasant personal association with Dr. Gil Borges.
Several references of value should be recorded here: The Diccionario Bio-
grdfico de Venezuela (1953); Revista de la Sociedad Bolivariana (Caracas, October
28, 1942); Georgetown University Academic Exercises on the occasion of the con-
ferring of the Degree of Doctor of Laws on Esteban Gil Borges (April 26, 1921);
Diego Carbonell, Sobre la personalidad de los Academicos Don Laureano Valle-
nilla Lanz y Don Esteban Gil Borges (Caracas, 1943); Pan American Union Bul-
letin, vol. 69, p. 271 (September, 1935), vol. 70, pp. 241-45 (March, 1936), vol. 76,
p. 705 (December, 1942), and vol. 77, pp. 618-21 (November, 1943); Modern
Hispanic America, edited by A. Curtis Wilgus, pp. 338-401 (Washington, 1933);
and a term paper written in 1950 by B. J. Tennery in my history course at
George Washington University.

Part I


'X, Mines

The four major geographical zones and the principal petroliferous basins of



VENEZUELA was the first country in the mainland of the New
World discovered by Columbus. He did so in his third voyage,
and filled with wonderment by the natural beauty of the country,
he concluded that he must have arrived at the Earthly Paradise.
He reported this extraordinary event to the Catholic King and
Queen of Spain in a remarkable letter as follows:
I always read that the world, land and water, was round, but in
addition to this I will say that it is more like a woman's breast and
that on the highest point, or nipple, which is the nearest to heaven,
is the promised land. And now that Your Highnesses have com-
manded that it be navigated, searched for and discovered, this
fact is made most evident, for in crossing the boundary that passes
west of the Azores one hundred leagues from north to south . .
the ships begin to rise gradually toward the sky and then one en-
joys a more benign weather . for in this Blessed Land I found
the mildest climate and the land and trees very green and as
beautiful as in April in the gardens of Valencia . and the people
there are of a very lovely stature . and many wear pieces of gold
around their necks and some have pearls tied around their arms.
These are great proofs that this is the Earthly Paradise.
The news of the discovery of the Promised Land by the Admiral
awoke a lively interest among other navigators, and in the wake
of his caravels they came, first to harvest the rich pearls of Mar-
garita and Cubagua, and later to look for the gold of the Golden
City "El Dorado." The first of these conquerors that followed

4 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
Columbus, Alonso de Ojeda, entered Lake Maracaibo and there
the native villages on stilts appeared to him like a little Venice, a
"Venezuela." Ojeda thus baptized the recently discovered land
with the name it now bears.

I. General Characteristics

Venezuela has an area of about 312,000 square miles, about the
size of Texas and Oklahoma combined. It is the most northerly
country of South America, and hence the one closest to Europe
and the United States. It borders the Caribbean Sea for about
1,750 miles and the Atlantic Ocean for about 440 miles. From La
Guaira to the Pacific Ocean, by way of the Panama Canal, the dis-
tance is 1,000 miles. To the nearest commercial port in Europe
the distance is about 4,000 miles. From north to south the country
measures about 800 miles, and from east to west about 950 miles.
Venezuela has a population today of just over 8 million, of which
slightly more than a million live in the capital city of Caracas and
its suburbs. Politically, the Republic of Venezuela is divided into
twenty states, two federal territories, and the federal district.
In reference to weather conditions, we have two seasons: the dry
(verano), which normally begins late in October and lasts until
late April or early May, and the rainy (invierno), which takes
the rest of the year. Our climate, however, because of the relatively
cool and dry trade winds, which blow steadily from the northeast
most of the year, is milder than our position in the Tropical Zone
would determine. Furthermore, we are fortunate in being south
of the Caribbean hurricane belt.
Important mountain ranges in the northern and southeastern
parts of the country subdivide the country into several distinct
geographical zones, each with its own characteristic climate, land
use, and economy.
Towards the north we have the Andean and Coastal Ranges, sep-
arated by the wide expanse of the Llanos, or Plains, from the
Guayanan Highlands south of the Orinoco. These northern ranges
stem out of the Main Andean Cordillera in Colombia. and enter
Venezuela by first branching out into an enormous V, the Sierra de
PerijA going north, and the Andes proper going northeast, leaving
the Maracaibo Basin in the middle. Further east the Andes become
the Coastal Range, which makes up the southern boundary of the
Caribbean Sea.

The Andes and the Coastal Range are the regions of Venezuela
with the most attractive climate, and their flanks and intermontane
valleys have the most fertile soils. As a natural consequence, al-
though they cover only 12 per cent of the land surface of Venezuela,
65 per cent of the population lives there. Sugar cane, corn, sesame,
rice, cotton, and other crops are grown in these valleys, terraces,
and flanks, while the higher wooded zones are the principal pro-
ducers of coffee.
The Andes proper, or Sierra Nevada de Merida, is a gigantic
mass of mountains that are relatively young, geologically speaking,
since their present elevation dates from the Tertiary Age. Its
height culminates in the Peak of Bolivar, over 16,000 feet high.
Its width, notably uniform, is about 65 miles. The narrow valleys
and steep flanks of the Sierra are intensively cultivated and the
high zones are the only parts of the country where wheat is grown.
Excellent mountain roads scale the Andes until they cross them
at an altitude of 13,000 feet, passing through picturesque colonial
towns and spectacular landscapes. In contrast to the steep Andean
valleys with their characteristic U-shaped profiles, which were dug
out by the glaciers of the Ice Age, we find here and there flat mesas,
geological witnesses of the rapid elevation of these mountains. It is
in these Andean mesas that some of Venezuela's more important
towns are found: Merida, Trujillo, La Grita, Valera; while San
Crist6bal, the most important city of the area, lies in a wide and
fertile valley.
The Coastal Range, with the slight break of the Lara depression,
is a continuation of the Andes. It is a mountainous strip, about 320
miles long from east to west and some 45 miles wide from north
to south. From the valleys of the Turbio and the Yaracuy rivers
in the west, it extends to the Paria Peninsula and the Island of
Trinidad in the east, with the sole interruption of the Barcelona
Gap. It is divided by important valleys which run from east to
west, in two parallel units: the Coastal Range proper, which is a
narrow, high, and extensive chain of mountains rising abruptly
from the waters of the Caribbean, and another mountainous zone,
the Interior Ridge, wider but with less altitude, parallel to the
former. The latter loses height from north to south and gradually
disappears into the plains.
The Coastal Range, constituted partly by igneous and meta-
morphic rocks, culminates in high peaks, of which the best
known are Naiguati and La Silla (The Saddle), with an altitude

6 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
of over 9,000 feet, both visible from Caracas. The Interior Ridge
rarely reaches altitudes of more than 5,000 feet.
In the series of valleys which separate these two mountainous
zones are found some of the most important cities of Venezuela-
Caracas, Maracay, Valencia-and some of the richest agricultural
land in the country, including the valleys of Aragua and Tuy.
Lake Valencia is located in one of these intermontane valleys.
Toward the east of Caracas, the Coastal Range disappears in the
Barcelona Gap and reappears in the states of Sucre and Monagas.
There, the Coastal Range proper forms the two prominent penin-
sulas of Paria and Araya. Because of a recent subsidence of these
mountains, geologically speaking, the central valley has submerged
below the waters of the sea, giving origin to the Cariaco Gulf,
while the secondary valleys, upon sinking, have formed the mag-
nificent bays of Puerto La Cruz, Guanta, Mochima, and others.
The Interior Ridge is made up principally of sedimentary rocks,
Cretaceous and Tertiary, shales, sandstones, and limestones of
marine origin. The limestones, both from the Eocene and from
the Cretaceous, contain spectacular outcrops like the Morros of
San Juan in the state of Guirico and the famous Guicharo Cave
in the state of Monagas.
The arid and mountainous zone of the states of Falc6n and Lara
forms a salient toward the north of the Andes in the states of
Trujillo and Lara. This is the only desert in Venezuela, with
characteristic desert vegetation of thorny cacti and prickly pears.
The chief economic activities of the Falc6n-Lara hill area are the
raising of goats and the cultivation of sisal and other fiber plants.
Beyond the mountains to the north is the Coastal Zone. This is
the smallest of the geographical zones of Venezuela, being mainly
a narrow strip between the mountains and the sea. In the west,
however, it broadens out to include the Lake Maracaibo Basin,
where the main oil fields of Venezuela are found.
The major ports of the country are found, logically, in this
zone: La Guaira, Maracaibo, Amuay, Punta Card6n, Punta Fijo,
Puerto Cabello, Puerto La Cruz, Guanta, Cumand, Caripano, and
others. Although occupying only 7 per cent of the area of Vene-
zuela, this zone contains over 18 per cent of its population.
In the warm valleys near the sea, cocoa, sugar cane, coconuts,
and bananas are grown on a large scale. Important in the economy
of this area also is the fishing that occurs off the coast.
The islands in the Caribbean Sea along the coast, and the

Paraguand Peninsula, may be included in the Coastal Zone, al-
though their physiography does not necessarily conform to it.

II. The Llanos

These wide expanses, between the mountains in the north and
the Orinoco, are remarkably flat grasslands, mostly open, but with
occasional large patches of forest and long "gallery" woods along
certain streams. The rivers, while very large, are sluggish because
of the slight gradient. For example, the lower reaches of the
Orinoco fall only about 250 feet in 750 miles. Because of this,
the river floods readily.
The Llanos have a climate characterized by great contrast be-
tween the wet and the dry seasons, the winter and summer of the
area. In the wet season, normally from April to October, tor-
rential rains fall, the rivers overflow, and great stretches of land
are flooded. Livestock seeks refuge in high places, and travel by
land is difficult, except over the modern arterial highways.
In the verano, from October to April, the air becomes dry, the
wind blows continuously, the rain stops, and the rivers, except
the largest, dry up. The livestock emigrates with the water sources,
the grass dies, and even the jungle trees lose their foliage. The
Plains are the Venezuelan region which stirs the imagination of
sportsmen and hunters. Rivers and lagoons are filled with exotic
fish: electric eels, which with their discharge can paralyze a bull
or a horse; caribes, small but ferocious fish, with jaws that possess
the force of pincers, which live in large schools and can eat an
animal in a few seconds, leaving only the skeleton and boiling,
blood-tinted water to mark the act; payaras, fish gifted with terrible
fangs; and catfish, of all forms and colors, some of which reach
five feet in length and weigh hundreds of pounds. Curious animals
such as the anteater, the chigiiire, a giant rodent, wild boars, and
many others, are characteristic of the Plains.
The landscape, beautified by palm trees, is alive with birds.
Among the most colorful of these are the very inquisitive chen-
chena, with reptilian characteristics; the corocoro, or scarlet ibis,
with the color of fire; the herons, from the small egret formerly
coveted for its plumage and today happily protected by game laws,
to the great soldier heron; ducks of all kinds, from the native
Royal duck to the small migratory ones which fly yearly into the
Plains from the northern latitudes.

8 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
The economy of the Llanos, formerly the traditional cattle
country of Venezuela, is now in a period of transition. Modern
technology is opening up to agriculture large zones in which, with
great success, rice, corn, sesame, and other crops are being pro-
duced. Cattle raising, likewise, is advancing by the introduction
of improved methods, new strains of stock, and more effective
means for controlling insect pests. The jeep has taken the place
of the horse and has greatly reduced the distances that formerly
made life difficult on the plains.
In order to accumulate water for the long dry season and also
to reduce the size of the flooded areas in the rainy season, large
dams and irrigation projects are being carried out. The Guirico
Dam, for example, near Calabozo, is ten miles long and permits
the irrigation of some 300,000 acres during the dry season.
The eastern Llanos have terrace-like mesas with sandy soils and
smooth tops with very scanty vegetation. These mesas, which may
be as high as 1,000 feet above sea level, are crossed by streams
which run through relatively deep canyons. Further east, the
Llanos end abruptly against the wide expanses of the Orinoco
This Delta area, low and swampy, is crossed by the many distribu-
taries of the Orinoco. It is, as William Beebe called it, the "Land
of the Single Tree," being monotonously covered with thick man-

III. The Guayana

The major geographic division of Venezuela is the Guayana, a
vast area that occupies 45 per cent of the land surface of the coun-
try, with scarcely 2 per cent of its population. All the region south
and east of the Orinoco River and the Casiquiare and the River
Negro zones in the Amazon River drainage are included in this
The legends of El Dorado, of Manoa, of Sir Walter Raleigh's
headless men, all have been associated with this region, and some
of them have almost been found to be true. Gold and diamonds
are discovered frequently, bringing with them fleeting prosperity.
These are in part responsible for some of the more colorful legends
that have arisen about the Guayana. But more fabulous even
than these legends, perhaps, is the wealth of iron ore that has been
discovered in the region in modern times. The great deposits of

high-grade iron found relatively close to the Caroni River are
among the largest in the world, totaling many million tons, and
are of very high quality.
On crossing the Orinoco from the Plains, one arrives in a land
that is geologically distinct: in place of the soft alluvium, one begins
to see curious granitic outcrops of round profile, an indication that
instead of the sedimentary rocks usually associated with deposits
of petroleum, one is now in a zone of igneous rocks which are at
times associated with metal-bearing formations. The granite is
overlaid in certain places by the sandstone of the "Imataca" for-
mation, typical of the iron-bearing rocks mentioned. In some
sites, such as El Pao and Cerro Bolivar, this is almost pure iron
oxide. Farther south, passing lowlands and jungles crisscrossed by
rivers of inky-black water and spectacular falls, one arrives at the
region of the Yuruari River, rich in gold deposits, and, finally, at
the Gran Sabana.
The landscape of the Gran Sabana is superb. Spectacular moun-
tain masses rise up with their flat tops and vertical sides, their
silhouettes reminding the viewer of the ruins of medieval castles.
These are the tepuis of the Indians, the "lost world" of Conan
Doyle. The Roraima, the Auyantepui, the Yacapana, the Duida,
with their smooth and vertical sides, are impossible to scale
without the use of ladders. A region of rare beauty, the Gran
Sabana is an unforgettable sight. From these high masses, whose
tops pierce the clouds, descend the highest waterfalls in the world:
Angel Falls, with an unobstructed drop of more than 3,000 feet, is
the best known, but there are many others of equal beauty and
breath-taking appearance.
Farther still to the south, toward Brazil, lies the Amazon terri-
tory. Here are gigantic jungles crossed by rivers of paradoxical
behavior; rivers that, running in opposite directions, join with
each other, just as the Casiquiare joins two of the largest rivers in
the world, the Amazon and the Orinoco. In these uninhabited
jungles, rubber and the tonka bean (sarrapia) grow wild and are
harvested in times of high prices.
In the Guayana, however, the most beautiful part of Venezuela
and nearly half of its territory, agriculture is practically nonexistent.
Other than the little subsistence farms (conucos) of the Indians and
a few cattle-raising ranches, there is no arable land. This vast
area is infertile, with the peculiar condition of having water in
abundance and all year. The acidity of the soils and that of the

10 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
black waters of its beautiful rivers seems to be the cause of the
infertility. Were a way found to turn these infertile soils into good
farming land, this Guayana area would be the one where the great
increase of population should be absorbed. Because of this in-
fertility of its soils, the only important cities of the Guayana area
are Cuidad Bolivar and Puerto Ordaz-San Fl6ix (these two cities,
separated by the Caroni River, will now be joined by a bridge and
renamed Santo Tome de Guayana) on the Orinoco River. Outside
of these main urban centers, there are a few near the gold and
iron mines. The rest of these 150,000 square miles is inhabited
only by a few nomadic miners who make their living out of
panning gold or diamonds and a few thousand Indians who still
live as they did in pre-Columbian days. On the other hand, from
an industrial point of view, the Venezuelan Guayana is in the proc-
ess of becoming a most important region, not only of Venezuela,
but of the Western Hemisphere. Its vast mineral wealth, its huge
hydroelectric potential, the proximity to the oil fields and gas
fields of eastern Venezuela, and the navigability of the Orinoco to
ocean-going ships, bring together a set of favorable circumstances
almost unequalled. The government's Corporaci6n de Guayana has
ambitious projects which, added to the steel mill and the hydro-
electric plant already built, will create this "Pittsburgh" of Vene-
There are two geographic assets that Venezuela has that, to com-
plete this geographic glimpse, deserve individual treatment: the
Orinoco River and Lake Maracaibo.

IV. The Orinoco
Returning to Columbus and to his discovery of the Promised
Land, we see that he made his discovery in the Gulf of Paria, at
the mouth of Venezuela's greatest river.
When I arrived at a great mouth, two leagues wide, which sepa-
rates the Island of Trinidad from the Land of Grace, I found that
the water came out with as great fury as the Guadalquivir at flood-
time. I sent boats to take soundings, and by chance water was
taken from the sea and I found it sweet and as I proceeded I found
the water of the sea more sweet and tasty . and having discovered
this I sent a caravel forward and thus it went much farther until
it reached a very large gulf from which a very great river came out.
Columbus arrived at the Gulf of Paria during the month of

August, 1498, and found the great river at its highest level, although
he saw only one of the many mouths of the great delta. The fact
that the water of the sea was sweet there caused ancient cartog-
raphers to call the Gulf of Paria the "Sweet Sea" on their maps.
The Orinoco with its innumerable tributaries has a drainage
area of several hundred thousand square miles. From the north
and the west it receives the great Llanos tributaries born in the
Andes: the Apure, the Arauca, the Meta, rivers of troubled waters
and unconfined beds which, in the rainy season, flood great regions.
From the south and east it receives the great Guayana rivers: the
Caroni, the Caura, and others, rivers of crystalline but ink-black
waters originating in the tepuis of the Gran Sabana and leaping
down in spectacular falls to mix their waters with the muddy ones
of the Orinoco.
Upstream, not far from its headwaters, the behavior of the
Orinoco is, to say the least, curious and disconcerting. Without
any apparent reason, the great stream, which at this point already
has acquired a girth of some 2,000 feet, divides its waters, and
sends southward one-third of its volume through the Casiquiare to
join its great competitor of the south, the Amazon, while it con-
tinues northward in its course. This bifurcation of the Orinoco
has aroused the imagination of scientists and naturalists for many
years. It becomes more paradoxical still if one considers that the
point of bifurcation is only 400 feet above sea level, but 750 miles
from the sea, along the route of the Orinoco, and almost 1,900
miles from the sea, via the Casiquiare-Negro-Amazon system.
The gradient of the river thus appears insufficient to cause its
waters to flow with the swift current they have.
Downstream from its bifurcation, the Orinoco has, along a 25-
mile stretch, the only important rapids in its course. These rapids
are the sole obstacle for continuous navigation in small craft
from the Gulf of Paria to the mouth of the Amazon. As it ap-
proaches the sea, the Orinoco divides again, this time to form the
multiple mouths of its great delta. One of these, the Minamo,
which debouches into the Gulf of Paria, is the one which "sweetens"
the sea of Columbus.

V. Lake Maracaibo

The huge petroleum wealth of Venezuela is located principally
in the subsurface of Lake Maracaibo. Here are found the largest

12 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
accumulations of petroleum in the Western Hemisphere. Why
is this zone so rich in petroleum? It is because here, in the enor-
mous sedimentary basin, there were, in geological times, a series of
circumstances peculiarly favorable to its formation.
We know that petroleum is of organic origin; that is, it is de-
rived from plants and animals that once lived. These organisms.
upon dying and being buried together with muds and other sedi-
ments in the bottom of sedimentary basins, were changed slowly
into petroleum and other hydrocarbons by the effect of a very long
and drawn-out chemical process caused by heat, pressure, and
time. As more organic matter is deposited under favorable con-
ditions, there is a greater possibility that petroleum eventually will
be formed.
The bed of Lake Maracaibo is a great basin of sedimentation,
surrounded by mountains. All these muds are deposited little by
little on the floor of the lake, where there ensues the beginning of
the long process that converts this matter into petroleum. But if
this were the whole picture, the lake would soon be filled with
mud and would dry up, or the mountains would wear away by
the action of the rains and soon there would be no mud. What
happens then? One of the most outstanding of geological proc-
esses: the bottom of the lake slowly subsides at about the same
rate at which the sediments are deposited. At the same time, with
a marvelous balance, the mountains continue to rise gradually.
This explanation, which appears to be a geological fantasy, is
nevertheless what actually is happening now and what has hap-
pened, in a general way, during many millions of years, and it is
easy to demonstrate. Wells drilled in the lake have penetrated as
much as 16,500 feet of sedimentary rocks before reaching the
granite. That thickness is made up of rocks formed by the harden-
ing of muds and sands that were deposited at shallow depths, as is
proven by the fact that they contain fossils of shells and other
aquatic animals which live in shallow water. During all the long
period of many millions of years, when this enormous thickness of
sediments was being deposited, the lake has always been relatively
shallow, just as it is today. Its greatest depth is about 125 feet.
Evidence that the mountains have risen is also easy to find: a
study of the rocks found on the high peaks of the Andes shows
fossils of marine shells and of aquatic animals which lived when
those rocks were at the bottom of the sea. These movements-the
sinking of the bottom of the lake and the elevation of the moun-

tains-take place so gradually that they are imperceptible to us.
When considered from the point of view of geologic time-many
millions of years-the total effect of these movements may be clearly
This process is not, of course, exclusive in Venezuela to the
Maracaibo basin. The Orinoco and the Apure-Barinas basins have
similar geological histories, and they also possess rich oil deposits.
The oil which is formed is naturally distributed sparsely
through the enormous thickness of sedimentary rocks in which
it had its origin. Under certain favorable conditions, resulting
from unequal subsoil pressures and the movement of subterranean
water, the dispersed petroleum began to accumulate slowly in
porous zones of the rocks, giving rise to the so-called "fields" of
oil that are being developed today.
Little did Alonso de Ojeda think when he entered the peaceful
waters of the lake and saw the "little Venice" of the Indians that
under his very feet lay riches that were greater by far than those
of El Dorado.



AMONG THE PAPERS delivered at the first Caribbean Con-
ference of the University of Florida, in 1950, was a discussion of
Venezuelan archaeology by Jose M. Cruxent, of the Instituto
Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas. It was my pleasure to
translate this paper into English for the publication which re-
sulted from the conference (Cruxent, 1951). Now, twelve years
later, our roles are reversed; I am the author of a second paper
on Venezuelan archaeology in which Cruxent also figures promi-
nently because it presents the results of collaboration between us.
It is the summary of a book being published by the Yale Uni-
versity Press.
Our greatest progress has been in the realm of chronology. It
was an achievement for Cruxent to be able to note, in his 1950
paper, "that certain Venezuelan cultures . date from the be-
ginning of the Christian Era" (Cruxent, 1951: 150). Now, we are
able to trace the Venezuelan Indian back to the time of the last
Ice Age, that is, to about 15000 B.C. From that time, he can be
shown to have passed through four great epochs: the Paleo-Indian
epoch, from 15000 to 5000 B.c.; the Meso-Indian epoch, from
5000 to 1000 B.c.; the Neo-Indian epoch, from 1000 B.c. to A.D. 1500;
the Indo-Hispanic epoch, from A.D. 1500 to the present.

I. Paleo-Indian Epoch
The Paleo-Indians are supposed to have entered the New World
from Siberia by way of Alaska and central Canada, and to have

continued southward through the United States and Middle
America into South America. The principal evidence for their
arrival in Venezuela as early as 15000 B.C. comes from the site
of Muaco, near Coro on the west coast, which was excavated by
Cruxent in 1959. Muaco consists of a spring, to which the mam-
mals of the vicinity came to drink. Man waylaid the animals
there, and killed and ate them, as is evidenced by the presence
of cut and burned bones and of Paleo-Indian implements in the
muck surrounding the spring. Two of the burned bones have
been analyzed by the radiocarbon method and have yielded dates
of 14920 and 12780 B.C. respectively (Rouse and Cruxent, MS,
Appendix). Many of the bones come from animals now extinct,
such as the mastodon, the giant sloth, and the New World horse;
and this in itself is evidence of great antiquity.
Muaco does not tell us much about the life of the Paleo-Indians,
since they did not actually live there. Places of habitation have,
however, been found elsewhere, particularly in the region of El
Jobo, inland from Muaco. Here, a people to whom we have
given the name "Joboid" lived on a series of successive terraces
formed by the Rio Pedregal. The earliest Joboid people, who
occupied the uppermost terraces, made only crude choppers and
scrapers of quartzite, which, however, might have been used to
manufacture wooden spears. Lanceolate spearheads of stone were
an innovation of the intermediate terraces and there are also a
few stemmed spearheads on the lowest, and therefore the latest,
terrace. It is presumed that the spears were used to hunt mammals
of the kinds found at Muaco, although no bones were recovered
in the sites.

II. Meso-Indian Epoch

By 5000 B.c., when the Meso-Indian epoch began, the big-game
animals upon which the Paleo-Indians had relied for much of
their food had become extinct. Nevertheless, some of the Meso-
Indians continued to emphasize hunting, as evidenced by the wide-
spread occurrence of stone projectile points throughout Venezue-
lan Guiana, especially at the site of Canaima (ibid.). These points
are of the same stemmed type which first appeared on the latest
terraces of the El Jobo region.
Elsewhere, the Meso-Indians ceased to manufacture stone points,
presumably because they had come to rely upon new sources of

16 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
food. Along the coast, they turned to fishing and shell fishing, and
in so doing developed maritime skills which enabled them to
colonize the offshore islands for the first time. Both on the main-
land and on the islands, their places of habitation are marked by
large piles of shells, the best known of which is at Punta Gorda,
on Cubagua Island off Cumand in eastern Venezuela. Here lived
a "Manicuaroid" people, beginning about 2325 B.c., according to
a radiocarbon date from the bottom of the site, and continuing
until after the time of Christ, as indicated by the appearance of
trade pottery at the top of the site. Additional sites of the Mani-
cuaroid Indians have been found along the adjacent mainland and
on Margarita Island, further offshore; and the Manicuaroid people
may also have played a part in the colonization of the West Indies,
although this is a disputed point (Cruxent and Rouse, 1958-59:
43-55, 111-13; Rouse, 1960).
The Manicuaroid Indians used bone projectile points instead of
the stone points of the Joboid Indians. They made small, bi-
pointed stones, possibly for use in slings, and a variety of types
of shell implements, including shell gouges fashioned from the
outer whorls of conch shells. These gouges were perhaps the most
significant invention, since they made it possible to hollow out
dugout canoes, with which to move from the coast to the islands.
A different kind of development seems to have taken place in
the interior of Venezuela during the Meso-Indian epoch. We are
only beginning to obtain evidence of this development at the site of
Rancho Peludo in the Maracaibo Basin, not far from the Colom-
bian border, but we can fill out the data from this site with our
knowledge of similar sites in other parts of the world, for example,
in the Tehuacin Valley of Mexico (MacNeish, 1962).
At Rancho Peludo and other places in the interior, the Meso-
Indians were unable to turn to maritime foods as the Pleistocene
game became extinct. Instead, they probably began to rely upon
fruits and wild vegetable foods. From these it would have been
only a short step to the cultivation of fruits and vegetables, that is,
to the beginnings of agriculture. It is unlikely, however, that the
first agriculture was very effective; the crops and the techniques
for producing them were undoubtedly too rudimentary to do more
than supplement the gathering of wild fruits and vegetables.
Agriculture is indicated at Rancho Peludo by the presence of
clay griddles similar to the budares still used in many parts of
Venezuela to bake bread made from manioc roots. Clay pottery

also occurs for the first time; it consists of simple bowls or jars
with plain or annular bases, fabric-marked surfaces, and crude
applique decoration. The pottery was used both for utensils and
for burial urns, and has been dated by the radiocarbon method
between 2820 and 445 B.C. (Rouse and Cruxent, 1963).

III. Neo-Indian Epoch

The Neo-Indian epoch began about 1000 B.C. in eastern Vene-
zuela, possibly somewhat later in the west. By this time, the crops
and techniques for cultivating them had improved to such an
extent that agriculture was able to supplant hunting, fishing, and
gathering as the principal means of obtaining food. In eastern
Venezuela, manioc remained the staple crop, but in the west the
Neo-Indians seem to have preferred corn, which had been domesti-
cated in Middle America and had spread south- and eastward
from there via Colombia (Braidwood and Willey, 1962: 171-72).
The Meso-Indian way of life survived for a while in certain
areas, especially on the east coast and adjacent islands, as already
noted. Indeed, a few Meso-Indian tribes, such as the Warrau
Indians of the Orinoco Delta (Wilbert, 1956), persisted into the
Indo-Hispanic epoch; but most of them turned to the new form
of life, adopting not only agriculture but also pottery (unless, as at
Rancho Peludo, they already had them).
Since fragments of pottery are by far the most common artifacts
in Neo-Indian sites they must be used as the primary basis of in-
terpretation. We have been able to distinguish a large number of
local styles and to assemble these into ten series, each of which
is distinctive of a separate group of Neo-Indians, as follows.
1. The Dabajuroid series appears to have had its origin in the
pottery of Rancho Peludo, already described in connection with
the Meso-Indian epoch. It continued in the same region, that is,
within the Maracaibo Basin, throughout the Neo-Indian epoch
and, beginning about A.D. 1000, also spread southward into the
Venezuelan Andes, northward to the present Dutch islands of
Aruba and Curacao, and eastward along the coast as far as
Cumana in eastern Venezuela (Rouse and Cruxent, MS, Fig. 9).
It is characterized by perforated annular bases, fabric impression
on the lower part of the body, corrugation of the neck, applique
work and, in the later styles, by bulging, hollow legs and complex
designs painted in black and/or red on a white background ibidd.,

18 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
Fig. 10). These latter traits may well have been obtained from the
Tocuyanoid series, to be discussed next.
2. The Tocuyanoid series centers around Quibor, near Bar-
quisimeto at the base of the Venezuelan Andes, where we ob-
tained a radiocarbon date of 295 B.C. From there, it apparently
spread southeastward into the Llanos and northeastward to and
along the coast as far as Maiquetia, the airport for Caracas ibidd.,
Fig. 11). Between A.D. 300 and 1000 it gave way to a pair of re-
lated series, Tierroid (3) and Ocumaroid (4). From its very be-
ginning it had hollow, bulbous legs; elaborate curvilinear designs
which were either incised or painted in red and black on a white
background; and simple modeling and painting of snakes and
human faces ibidd., Pls. 13-16). Many of these traits are also to be
found on the pottery of northeastern Colombia and Central
America, a fact which led Cruxent to postulate relationships with
those areas in his paper at the first Caribbean conference (Cruxent,
1951: 154-55).
3. The Tierroid series, like Tocuyanoid, centers in the region
around Barquisimeto, extending down from there onto the west-
ern Llanos and up into the Andes of Trujillo and MWrida (Rouse
and Cruxent, MS, Fig. 13). It dates from A.D. 1000 to 1500. Its
pottery continues the Tocuyanoid emphasis upon hollow, bulbous
legs and polychrome painting but lacks its incision and modeling
ibidd., Pls. 17-19). The Tierroid people were responsible for the
two most elaborate kinds of archaeological monuments in Vene-
zuela, the calzadas (causeways of earth) on the Llanos and the
mintoyes (shaft graves and shrine caves) in the Andes.
4. The Ocumaroid series succeeds Tocuyanoid in the coastal
part of the latter's distribution, that is, in the region from Tucacas
to La Guaira. It began about A.D. 500 and some of its styles sur-
vived until the arrival of Europeans ibidd., Fig. 23). It combines
the Tocuyanoid form of painting with features of two other series
which impinged upon that part of the coast, Dabajuroid (1) and
Barrancoid (5); for example, it has corrugation and applique
work which are reminiscent of the former series and modeling-
incision of the latter ibidd., Fig. 24). Despite this richness of
ceramics, the Ocumaroid people did not produce monuments of
any kind; they have left only deposits of refuse.
5. The Barrancoid series is in two parts rather distant from each
other, one in the Valencia Basin on the adjacent coast and the
other around the delta of the Orinoco River ibidd., Fig. 17). Our
earliest radiocarbon date for the central Venezuelan part of the
series is A.D. 260 and for the Orinocan part, 985 B.C. They are
characterized by solid annular bases, flanges attached to the rim

and incised with curvilinear designs, and elaborate modeled-in-
cised figures on the vessel wall or on lugs attached to the rim
ibidd., Pls. 31-35). Clay pipes bearing similar decoration occur
in association with the central part of the series. Archaeologists
have been attracted to the Barrancoid series by the distinctiveness
and complexity of its decoration, and have proposed conflicting
theories to account for its origin (cf. Cruxent, 1951: 152-53, and
Willey, 1958: 372), but these need not be discussed here since
they are purely speculative. We do not even know how the two
segments of the series were related; we can only theorize that both
are derived from a third as yet undiscovered segment on the
Llanos de Apure, whence the series may have spread northward
via the rios Portuguesa and Pao into the Valencia Basin and
onto the coast, and eastward down the Orinoco River to the
Barrancas region, to Trinidad, and to northwestern British Guiana.
6. If there actually was a segment of the Barrancoid series on
the Llanos de Apure, it could have been ancestral to the Arau-
quinoid series, which arose there during the latter part of the first
millennium A.D. and subsequently spread down the Orinoco River,
putting an end to the Orinocan segment of the Barrancoid tra-
dition about A.D. 1000 (Rouse and Cruxent, MS, Fig. 19). The
Arauquinoid series retains certain Barrancoid traits, such as
modeled-incised lugs, but is distinguished by the use of sponge
spicules as a tempering material, by bowls surmounted with col-
lars or small lugs decorated with applique features, and by beveled
rims bearing incised and excised designs. The last techniques were
also used in the production of cylindrical stamps of clay. The
Arauquinoid people built artificial mounds of earth in order to
raise their houses above the floods of the rainy seasons.
7. The Valencioid series, as its name implies, centers in the
Valencia Basin, extending eastward through the mountains as far
as Caracas, down to the coast in the La Guaira and Rio Chico areas,
and out on to the Los Roques Islands, off La Guaira. It dates be-
tween A.D. 1000 and 1600 ibidd., Fig. 21). The excavations of Re-
quena (1932), Bennett (1937), Osgood (1943), and Kidder (1944)
in the mounds around Lake Valencia, have made it the best known
of all Venezuelan pottery, though it is relatively simple. It consists
of bowls with biomorphic lugs and collared jars bearing faces.
The features of both are done in applique work, of which the coffee-
bean eye is typical. There is no painting and little incision. Figu-
rines, amulets, and urn burials have also been found in the Valencia
mounds (Rouse and Cruxent, MS, Pls. 39-46). The Valencioid
series is presumably a degeneration from the Barrancoid series (5),
with the addition of traits from the Arauquinoid series (6).

20 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
8. The Memoid series is known from the north central Llanos
south of Caracas and from the coast around Rio Chico. It was in
existence during protohistoric and early historic times. Its simple
globular vessels were typically roughened by one of a series of
techniques: corrugation, incision, scoring, punctation, the addition
of tiny lumps of clay, or the pressing of fingers or fabrics into the
wet clay.
9. The Saladoid series made its appearance in the middle and
lower Orinoco Valley by 1000 B.C. from an, as yet, undetermined
source. Soon after 1000 B.C., the movement of Barrancoid people
into the lower part of the Orinoco Valley split the Saladoid people
in two. One group remained in the middle part of the Orinoco
Valley (Howard, 1943) while the other moved out through the
Orinoco Delta to the northeast coast of Venezuela, Margarita,
Trinidad, and on into the rest of the West Indies, overwhelming
the Meso-Indian inhabitants of those areas as it went (Rouse and
Cruxent, MS, Fig. 28). The two groups persisted in Venezuela
until about A.D. 1000, when the southern one became acculturated
to the Arauquinoid series (6) and the northern one was transformed
into several local variants, including the Guayabitoid series (10)
in northeastern Venezuela and the Chicoid series of the Greater
Antilles. In its pure form, the Saladoid series was characterized
by flat bases, bowls shaped like inverted bells, vertical strap
handles, and white-on-red painted designs. To these were added
many Barrancoid traits after the latter Indians moved into the
lower Orinoco Valley ibidd., Figs. 29, 30).
10. The Guayabitoid series may be regarded as a degeneration
from Saladoid, in which the simple olla became predominant;
handles gave way to small, tabular lugs; painting died out; and
modeling-incision was replaced by crude incised and applique
designs ibidd., Fig. 33). It was the Guayabitoid people whom
Columbus encountered when he discovered Trinidad and the
Paria coast in 1498.

IV. Indo-Hispanic Epoch

The Europeans first settled Cubagua and Margarita islands off
the east coast of Venezuela, and subsequently expanded to the
mainland, gradually taking over the coast, the mountains, and the
Llanos from the Indians. Unlike the English in North America,
they tended to assimilate the Indians, incorporating them in their
towns and missions, intermarrying with them and, in general, ac-
culturating them to the European way of life. As a result, the

Indian tribes of Venezuela have retained their identity only in the
more remote areas, that is, in the Guianan and Amazonian parts
of the country, along the Colombian border, and in the Orinoco
Delta, as already noted.
This process of acculturation is best documented archaeologically
at the site of Nueva Cidiz on Cubagua Island. Digging there in
December, 1954, Professor John M. Goggin, of the University of
Florida, and Cruxent, found a pot full of pearls, which aroused so
much interest that the Venezuelan government provided the money
for Cruxent to continue the excavations over the next seven years.
The ruins at the site have been stabilized, a huge number of arti-
facts collected, and it is planned to develop the place as a tourist
attraction (ibid.).
Nueva Cadiz was the first Spanish settlement in all of South
America, established soon after the beginning of the sixteenth
century to take over the pearl fisheries which the Indians had
previously exploited by themselves. The town grew in wealth
and commercial importance, and permanent buildings of stone
were constructed, including residences for the more prominent
citizens, churches, and a monastery. Some buildings were embel-
lished with ornate stone sculptures. The pearl fisheries eventually
became exhausted, hurricanes and pirate attacks decimated the
town, and by A.D. 1550 it had been abandoned (Otte, 1961), though
a small group of Indians lingered on in the vicinity.
The excavations at Nueva Cadiz have uncovered not only Spanish
artifacts but also Indian pottery of styles native to various parts of
the Caribbean area, which bear witness to the distances from which
laborers were brought to the fisheries. There is evidence that the
Indians soon abandoned these styles and developed a new, local
form of pottery. This in turn survived with modifications through-
out the Indo-Hispanic epoch and is still in existence as the folk
pottery of the village of Manicuare on the Peninsula of Araya
(Cruxent and Rouse, 1958-1959: 116).

Bennett, Wendell C., 1937. "Excavations at La Mata, Maracay, Venezuela,"
Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, vol.
36, pt. 2. New York.

22 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
Braidwood, Robert J., and Gordon R. Willey, editors, 1962. "Courses toward
Urban Life: Archeological Considerations of Some Cultural Alternatives."
Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology, no. 32. New York.
Cruxent, J. M., 1951. "Venezuela: a Strategic Center for Caribbean Archeology."
In The Caribbean at Mid-Century, ed. A. Curtis Wilgus, pp. 149-56. Gaines-
ville: University of Florida Press.
Cruxent, J. M., and Irving Rouse, 1958-59. "An Archeological Chronology of
Venezuela." Pan American Union, Social Science Monographs, no. 6. 2 vols.
Howard, George D., 1943. "Excavations at Ronquin, Venezuela." Yale University
Publications in Anthropology, no. 28. New Haven.
Kidder, Alfred, II, 1944. "Archaeology of Northwestern Venezuela." Papers of
the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard
University, vol. 26, no. 1. Cambridge.
MacNeish, Richard Stockton, 1962. Second Annual Report of the Tehuacdn
Archaeological Botanical Project. Andover, Mass.
Osgood, Cornelius, 1943. "Excavations at Tocor6n, Venezuela." Yale University
Publications in Anthropology, no. 29. New Haven.
Osgood, Cornelius, and George D. Howard, 1943. "An Archeological Survey of
Venezuela." Yale University Publications in Anthropology, no. 27. New
Otte, Enrique, 1961. Cedulario de la monarquia espailola relative a la isla de
Cubagua (1523-1550). 2 vols. Caracas.
Requena, Rafael, 1932. Vestigios de la Atldntida. Caracas.
Rouse, Irving, 1960. "The Entry of Man into the West Indies." Yale University
Publications in Anthropology, no. 61. New Haven.
Rouse, Irving, and J. M. Cruxent, 1963. "Some Recent Radiocarbon Dates for
Western Venezuela." American Antiquity, vol. 28, no. 4. Salt Lake City.
Rouse, Irving, and J. M. Cruxent, MS. Venezuelan Archeology. In press,
New Haven: Yale University Press.
Wilbert, Johannes, 1956. "Rasgos culturales circuncaribes entire Los Warrau y
sus inferencias." Memorias de la Sociedad de Ciencias Naturales La Salle,
vol. 16, no. 45, pp. 237-57. Caracas.
Willey, Gordon R., 1958. "Estimated Correlations and Dating of South and
Central American Cultural Sequences." American Antiquity, vol. 23, no. 4,
pp. 353-78. Salt Lake City.


Arturo Uslar Pietri: THE CITY OF GOLD AND THE

A LENGTHY DISSERTATION on any subject may lack unity
and yet contain a wealth of solid information, but a brief sum-
mary must necessarily possess not only unity but significant mean-
ing as well. This is the problem that faces the writer who is
asked to prepare a summary of Venezuela's history for readers who
are not familiar with the subject. He must say what Venezuela
is and what it has been, without falling into the trap of an empty
recitation of names and dates, and he must do his best to make
clear history's unity and meaning.

The first point to be made is the great influence that has been
exerted in the building of our country by factors that are extra-
neous to it. For example, only one of the three important human
figures of Venezuela's history (and the first one to appear) belonged
to the soil. He was the Indian, who had derived directly from the
climate, the geography, the flora, and the fauna. The second figure
to appear, the Spaniard, had absolutely nothing in common with
the land. He represented the world beyond and its ideals: ec-
clesiastic, a warrior type, lordly and courtly, and the symbol of the
proud Castilian who had reconquered Spain from the Moors.
The emotions of this spirit found expression in the worship of the
Immaculate Conception, in his faith in Saint James (his patron), in
the romances of El Cid, in his lofty scorn for work and frugality,

24 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
in the glorification of hidalgoism and pomp, and in personal pride.
He brought with him a social and political system created by
force which he imposed on the land. To complete the picture, he
later imported the third important figure in our history, the Negro,
to supply the lack of workers. Thousands of husky Africans were
disembarked on the Antilles islands and along the coast of the main-
land to work the mines and the fields, and to do the jobs at which
the Indian had shown himself to be of little worth. With the
Negro came another culture; strange new myths, different qualities,
and a concept of the world as magic, which joined the order of
things that arose not from the land itself but from a fortuitous
projection of European history.
The voyagers to the West Indies, the pilgrims, or the conquista-
dors-by whatever name we choose to call them-had left their
native land under the drive of forces arising from Spain's history.
Perhaps it was an extension of the crusading spirit that had
achieved the reconquest of the peninsula; perhaps it was the need
to counteract the economic blockade that followed the fall of Con-
stantinople and the eastern Mediterranean ports into the hands of
the Turks; perhaps it was the urge to compete politically with the
Portuguese in the discovery of the New World and to benefit from
the new route to India. In any event, they stumbled on America
with no idea of what they were going to find and with no adequate
preparation for their discovery. Instead of a new ocean route, they
found a new world. Instead of the Great Kahn or Prester John,
they encountered Antillean and Carib chieftains and the great lords
of TenochtitlAn and of Cuzco. They did not discover Hindus
or Chinese, but instead an unknown race of half-naked savages,
adorned with gold and seeming to live effortlessly in an enviable
state of natural bounty.
Thus what resulted was an artificial order designed to emulate
that of proud Castile, sustained from beyond the seas and from its
highest stratum by force of arms and alien custom.


The first phase of the conquest of Venezuela was that of pearls,
salt, and slaves. This was the epoch of the founding of Nueva
Cidiz on the barren island of Cubagua, between the mainland
and Margarita. The conquistadors remained there for something
more than the first two decades of the sixteenth century, with their

houses of cane stalks and adobe, their convent and their church
spire, gathering pearls and sending salt and Indian slaves to Santo
About 1530, with the establishment of the coastal cities of
Cumana and, particularly, Coro, the first serious effort was made
to penetrate the vast mainland area. This step opened a period
of more than twenty years, during which the government of Vene-
zuela was assigned by the Emperor to the house of Welser, the
German bankers to whom Carlos V was heavily in debt for loans
granted to finance his European adventures. The blond and ag-
gressive Teutons concentrated all their efforts, which were mighty
and on the heroic scale, toward one sole objective-not toward the
foundation of a prosperous and stable colony, not toward the de-
velopment of cities, cultivation of crops, or encouragement of
handicraft, but toward the exclusive and feverish search for El
Dorado, the fabled city all built of gold and precious stones which
shimmered like a glowing coal upon the shore of an unknown lake,
and which was ruled over by a monarch who, it was said, was
covered daily with a coat of gold dust so that he appeared to be a
living statue of the coveted metal.
The search for El Dorado was the prime mover in the expedi-
tions which, for the first time, began to scour Venezuela's territory.
Over rugged mountain chains, through jungles, swamps, and plains,
marched the armed bands with their horses, their helmets, their
Indian guides, and all their impedimenta, fighting and suffering,
beyond Lake Maracaibo, beyond the majestic Andes, beyond desert
and river to the high plain of BogotA to the Meta and Guainia
jungles, to the banks of the Orinoco. The legacy of the fruitless
quest for El Dorado, which continued for almost eighty years, was
the knowledge of a vast and sparsely populated country, inhabited
only by warlike tribes, where food was scarce, where movement was
difficult, and where nature was hostile and violent.
There was no El Dorado, nor were there any rich mines of gold
or silver. The rude awakening and disillusionment caused an
apathy to set in that was to endure for more than a century, from
the founding of Caracas in 1567 to the creation of the Guipuzcoan
Company in 1728. What ensued was a long period of frustration,
poverty, and isolation. A reading of official documents and of the
petitions of the cabildos (town councils) suffices to provide a
chilling picture of desolation and want. People did not live, they
vegetated without hope.

26 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
During this long period of lethargy the population remained
stagnant, and the country's development was limited to the estab-
lishment of a few cocoa and sugar plantations and to the slow
growth of a few herds of cattle. There were no cities worthy of
the name, nothing but isolated villages surrounded by solitude and
hostile nature, where a handful of settlers lived in huts, supervising
the field work of Indians and Negroes in cultivated areas.
In this abandoned world a primitive and simple social system
evolved, personified by the Spanish governor and the Church. The
cabildos, which were the refuge of the creole's* hope for power,
bickered over privileges and taxes and parceled out plots of land.
There was a minimum of contact with the outside world.
While the silver mines and indigenous social organizations of
Mexico and Peru were utilized by the Spaniards to develop those
viceroyalties and to convert them into important centers of wealth
and culture, the government of Venezuela scarcely was noticed in
the vast and complex framework of the Spanish empire.


However, important changes occurred in the eighteenth century.
The new Bourbon dynasty was progressive and constructive, and
disposed to favor the growth and development of the colonies. New
jurisdictions were established in the colonial world and new in-
stitutions were created, designed to promote foreign trade and to
develop agriculture. The Royal Guipuzcoan Company of Caracas
was organized in 1728; it acted as merchant, trader, seller, and
farmer. Tobacco, indigo, cocoa, and sugar plantations sprang up in
the central area of the country. The new wealth not only raised
the living standard of the upper classes and the businessmen, but it
brought with it smuggling activities from the Dutch and British
Antilles. This was an important development, for it brought the
Venezuelan into contact with a world of freedom of thought and
democratic institutions.
The creole discovered the commercial, political, and philosophi-
cal backwardness of Spain, and there awoke in him an irrepressible
yearning for change and progress. The creole took England, Hol-
land, and France as his models. He discovered that it was possible
to question, criticize, and to live and prosper in an atmosphere of

*The term creole means a white person born in Venezuela of Spanish parents.

freedom and that there was another order of things, different from
and perhaps more equitable and conducive to man's progress than
that imposed by Spain on her American possessions.
The independence of the United States at the opening of the
century's last quarter offered him the most tempting example of
the possibility of establishing the long-dreamed-of democratic re-
public in the New World. The proclamation of the ideals of free-
dom and the equality of man in the Declaration of Independence
became for him a credo inspiring sustained and dedicated action.
It was too early for him to realize that history had created pro-
found differences between conditions in the English and Spanish
colonies. He believed, with Rousseau, that a change of institutions
in itself would suffice to release man's natural goodness and convert
it into the fruits of freedom and peace.
In 1777, the government of Venezuela was transformed into the
Captaincy General. This was more than just a change in name; it
meant a substantial increase in territory with the incorporation of
the provinces of Cumani, Maracaibo, M6rida, and Guayana, giving
the country the physical area it possesses today. There was also a
gain in the sense of greater unity and autonomy in the definition of
political, judicial, taxing, and military jurisdictions. The measure
established Venezuela as a nation. Since that time, there has been
one government from the Andes to the mouths of the Orinoco, and
Caracas has been the administrative and judicial center where
national problems have been resolved.
Venezuela was then a country of little more than half a million
people, with only three towns that exceeded 10,000 inhabitants,
and the largest of these, Caracas, boasted scarcely 20,000. The
majority of the population lived on plantations, farms, and estates.
There was a very strict social division into strata that were sepa-
rated by privilege and prejudice. There were four social classes.
The white man-Spaniard and creole-who represented less than
one-fifth of the population, held almost all the wealth and did hold
all the political power. Public offices were held almost exclusively
by Spaniards sent out from the mother country. The white creoles
dominated the cabildos and formed the cultured and propertied
class. The largest single group, making up almost half of the
population, was the mixed one to which white, Indian, and Negro
had contributed with a resulting endless variety of blood mixtures.
This class came to be known in colonial times as pardos. Its mem-
bers were legally free, but had very limited possibilities of attaining

28 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
power, wealth, or culture. Then came the Indians, who lived in
passive political and religious submission in the missions or in the
jungles; and finally, the Negro slaves, the principal work force
of the country. It was a society in extreme disequilibrium, but
highly rigid and stratified down to the last detail. Its two visible
heads were the Governor, the representative of the Crown, and the
Bishop, who wielded the spiritual power of the Roman Catholic


The long and bloody process of achieving independence had
this social, economic, and cultural base as its point of departure.
Several factors and causes converged in the independence move-
ment: the aspiration of the white creoles to take over complete
power; the resentment of the pardos who felt unjustly ostracized
and despised by the white oligarchy; the republican ideals of free-
dom and equality freshly arrived from France and England; the
contagious example of the independence of the United States; the
increasing pressure for the elimination of restrictions on trade and
economic development; and finally, the crisis precipitated in Europe
by the Napoleonic wars which threw the interest of England into
the balance in favor of Hispano-American independence and which
produced the collapse and disintegration of the Spanish dynasty
and, with it, the traditional source of authority in the Bourbon
The movement toward independence coincided with the zeal to
establish a republic modeled after those of France and the United
States. A federal, egalitarian, free republic, based on the freedom
and equality of its citizens, was one for which Venezuela's three
hundred years of colonial life were a poor apprenticeship.
With Spain invaded by the French, with the disappearance of
the legitimate government on the peninsula, with the unleashing
of all the forces and pressures that had been working toward inde-
pendence, Venezuela formally assumed her autonomy on April 19,
1810. A little more than a year later, on July 5, 1811, she pro-
claimed her complete independence and proceeded to adopt a
constitution based on the French and American models. This
constitution, incidentally, was the first to be adopted by a Latin
American country.
It quickly became apparent that independence consisted of

something more than the mere formal declaration alone; its con-
sequence was fifteen years of cruel, continuous fighting, both on
and beyond Venezuelan soil, in which one-third of the nation's
population perished and a large part of its wealth was wiped out.
The colonial social system, static, rigidly stratified, and imposed
from beyond the seas, was smashed. The new democratic system
based on the principles of the 1811 constitution never was able
to function. There existed neither the background, the usages, nor
the education required for its real application. Nor was it strength-
ened by the stark reality of the new society. The great majority
of the populace possessed neither property, education, nor employ-
ment. Only the white oligarchy, a small minority, was equipped
to understand and to practice the principles of a democratic con-
stitutional regime. The disappearance of the colonial social order
left a power vacuum. The long war had intensified the country's
poverty and increased its difficulties, and it had decimated the
small group of men who might have taken the leadership in a
When the struggle for independence turned into actual warfare,
democracy became a dead word and was replaced by the brutally
efficient and highly simple law of warfare and of war's necessities.
The leaders produced by the conflict soon realized that the con-
stitutional system could not be applied. With remarkable percep-
tion, Sim6n Bolivar saw that there was a profound incompatibility
between republican ideals and the reality of the situation. He
urged his compatriots to study the present and past of their coun-
try rather than foreign constitutions, and to devise and put into
effect the institutions that could assure the nation's stability, peace,
and progress, or, at least, "the greatest degree of happiness possible."


This dichotomy between political ideals and social reality per-
sisted throughout the nineteenth century. It was a period that
rarely saw peace and suffered protracted wars, a period in which
democratic institutions rarely functioned and governments of force
predominated. The demolished colonial system was not replaced
by republican polity, but by a primitive and crude order that arose
from the conditions of endemic civil war. The caudillo, or regional
strong man, became the symbol of the convulsionary period.
The history of Venezuela since that time may be viewed as the

30 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
struggle between democratic ideals and principles and the stubborn
fact of the caudillo. Congress periodically proclaimed in ringing
tones the most liberal and advanced constitutions, and with equal
regularity a new caudillo would emerge from the wars to implant
his personal dictatorship on the country's poverty, backwardness,
and lack of republican experience. The authority of the victorious
warrior, backed by his personal army, came to be the basis and
the essence of Venezuela's political system. Such a caudillo was
Jose Antonio Piez, the dominant figure from 1826 to 1846. His type
of rule was respectful of the constitution, and he readily accepted
the principle of change in the occupancy of the president's chair.
This phase of our caudillo history might be termed its legalistt"
period. It was followed, with the Monagas brothers (Generals
Jos6 Tadeo and Jose Gregorio Monagas who, between them, held
the presidency from 1846 to 1858), by the dictatorship of the cau-
dillo, a period of arbitrary personal power, systematic violation of
the constitution, and self-perpetuation in power, either directly or
through underlings.
Important and colorful representatives of this period were the
caudillos Antonio Guzmin Blanco and Joaquin Crespo. This stage
in Venezuela's national life was brought to a close by the most
powerful and enduring of all the strong men, Juan Vicente G6mez,
who wielded absolute power for more than thirty years.
But the democratic ideal was a hardy one, and it did not perish
during the long rule of the caudillos. It was preserved, even though
as a dead letter, in the texts of the various constitutions, and it was
sustained as a secret, passionate cult in the spirits of a group of
intellectuals who, on rare occasions, enjoyed the fleeting luxury of
moments of freedom and legality, but who for the most part suf-
fered persecution, prison, and exile.
This high-minded, steadfast enthusiasm for the republican ideal
is one of the determining factors of Venezuelan history; it is, in
some respects, analogous with the tenacious and resolute search
for the city of El Dorado during the sixteenth century. The Vene-
zuelan seeks the city of justice as his forerunners sought the city
of gold, with the same dedication, the same indestructible hope, and
the same splendid determination.


There was no inclination to accept the primitive and brutal

system of the caudillo, but neither was it possible to achieve a free
and equitable democratic order. The twilight of the caudillo fell
with the appearance on stage of a new, nonhuman personage: oil.
The rapid development of Venezuela's oil wealth brought about
a profound transformation of the country in the short space of
thirty years. The population tripled, national income increased
more than twenty times, and the national budget thirty times.
This affluence, both wisely and poorly used, changed the entire
countenance of the nation. Cities grew, transportation facilities
multiplied, new and powerful social classes arose, the middle class
was strengthened and became larger, industry developed, urban
population outstripped the rural, hundreds of new scientific activi-
ties were started up, the means of communication were greatly
expanded, education and mass culture broadened rapidly, and
Venezuela's contacts with the rest of the world were enlarged and
All this could mean that we are now closer than ever to the
attainment of the democratic ideal for which earlier generations
struggled with so little success. Supporting this possibility are the
facts of a large middle class, a high average level of education, and
a more extensive and equitable distribution of wealth than before.
Nevertheless, there remain many problems and negative facets
in this panorama. Relative well-being and increased wealth have
yet to reach a large segment of the population. Population growth
is more rapid than that of national income. The youthful sector
of the populace is by far the largest (50 per cent of the country's
population of 7.5 million is under 20 years of age), without ex-
perience and requisite training. And a considerable proportion of
the population lacks both the means of subsistence and the ability
to work.
Under these circumstances, the problem of maintaining and
consolidating a truly democratic system remains a pressing one,
and it is, in fact, the major question facing Venezuela today. It is
true that we possess more factors favorable to success than ever
before, but we will need a very large measure of insight, of effi-
ciency, of steadfastness, and of disinterested self-sacrifice if the high
hopes of the men of 1810 are to be converted for the Venezuelans
of today and tomorrow into a fruitful fact: the creation of a free
and equitable system which will enable the country to grow and
to develop its maximum potential with the peaceful and voluntary
cooperation of all its sons.

Part II




THE STRUCTURE OF Venezuela's educational system always
has been intimately linked to the social and economic structure
of the country.* During the colonial period, the few elementary
schools of which there is any record were open only to the children
"of the first settlers and of those who served the King." Their
doors were not open to "mulattoes and other inferior classes." In
point of fact, the type of work that the controlling class needed
from the lower classes was rudimentary toil, for which no educa-
tion was necessary; there was no need to go to school to learn to
work the soil or to do the jobs that had to be done with the scant
mineral resources the country then possessed. The first university
in Venezuela was established in Caracas in 1723.
Despite the fact that most of the men who shaped the inde-
pendence movement sprang from the landholding oligarchy, they
proclaimed the principle of universal education; but, like many
other ideals of the period, this goal all but disappeared in the
civil wars, anarchy, and impoverishment of the country that marked
*An understanding of this paper will perhaps be facilitated by a brief
definition of some terms employed which have a slightly different meaning, as
applied in Venezuela, from their usual meaning in the United States. The
Venezuelan educational system is divided into three basic divisions: primary,
which includes preschool, kindergarten, and elementary schools; middle, which
includes high schools, technical and commercial schools, and normal schools;
and superior, which includes pedagogic institutes and the universities. Normal
schools and the pedagogic institutes train teachers, but the former train teachers
for elementary schools only, and the latter train high school teachers.

36 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
the first sixty years of the republic. All these factors conspired
against the establishment of an effective educational system.
However, in 1870, President Antonio Guzmin Blanco issued a
decree establishing free and compulsory education. For two decades
this measure gave real impetus to education in the country: more
than 100,000 children went to school in that period, eight normal
schools were established, and on-the-job training was instituted for
teachers who had no formal professional preparation.
New civil conflicts and administrative disorder put an end to
this encouraging phase of universal education. The country had
again fallen into an epoch of darkness from which it was not to
emerge until the death of the dictator, Juan Vicente G6mez, in
Venezuela's educational situation in that year was deplorable:
school registration was only 150,000, about 11 per cent of the
population between 7 and 24 years of age; more than 70 per cent
of the adult population was illiterate; buildings and other physical
equipment were wanting; and the number of trained teachers was
infinitesimal. The University had been closed for a number of
On G6mez' death, a movement to revitalize education was begun,
only to be rudely interrupted anew in 1948. This movement had
become particularly effective during the 1945-48 period; elementary
school registration rose to 500,000, normal schools to 5,600, second-
ary schools to 22,000, and the three universities then existing to
During the three-year period, impressive steps were taken in the
development of technical education, teacher training, and anti-
illiteracy campaigns (more than 100,000 adults were taught to
read and write). For the first time, a teachers' pay scale was
adopted, with substantial increases; school attendance was im-
proved through the establishment of free lunches and assistance in
obtaining clothing, and effective programs of school construction
and installation of equipment were carried out. Allocations for
education reached a significant 12 per cent of the national budget.
Just at the time when the movement toward a sound education
program was gathering force, another military dictatorship, with
a deep scorn for such matters, brought educational progress to
a halt for ten years. Budget allotments for education sank to
7.6 per cent of the total, which brought about an unprecedented
expansion in the number of private schools; it was the private

sector that was responsible for the greatest share of education's
growth during these years. Two private universities were estab-
lished, in addition to scores of private elementary, normal, and
secondary schools. Nevertheless, the available facilities remained
far below the level required to satisfy the country's needs. Con-
sequently, there should be no surprise at the growth of illiteracy,
which rose from 33 per cent in 1950 to 57 per cent in 1958, or that
only 32 per cent of the school population (7 to 24 years) actually
attended school.
After the overthrow of the dictatorship in 1958, there again
arose a fierce determination to create an educational system at
the service of the populace, and education became a primary con-
cern of the government. As a result, in the period from 1958 to
the present, Venezuela's educational program acquired such rhythm
and achieved such effects that it may be favorably compared
with any education program in any country in the world, in this
or any other period. School registration for the period 1935-62 is
shown in Table 1.

School Attending
Academic Population* Schoolt
Year (7 to 24) Number Per Cent

1935-36 1,328,000 150,000 11.2
1956-57 2,500,000 800,487 32
1961-62 2,950,000 1,574,000 50

tGrade school through university.

As may be seen during the last five years, some 770,000 students
have been added to the active school population, an increase of 96
per cent. Current registration is 20.5 per cent of the total popula-
tion, perhaps the highest of any country in Latin America.
Some sectors of opinion have expressed reservations about this
unusual growth rate in our educational system, pointing out that
there are other urgent problems, equally demanding of attention,
in the public sector. But the philosophy which stands behind the
government's educational program holds education to be a funda-
mental instrument for the social and economic development of
the country, whose failure would make it impossible for the Vene-

38 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
zuelan people to have access to the benefits of modern scientific
and technological process. In this connection, it is particularly
significant that 53 per cent of Venezuela's population, which has
an annual growth rate of 3.5 per cent, is less than 20 years of age.
It is imperative to provide these new generations with adequate
cultural equipment if we are going to secure the future of the
country on more just and stable foundations. This is the thinking
that guides the educational program of Venezuela, which is rated
the highest priority in the plans of the democratic government.

I. Problems and Aspects of the Educational System
In accordance with the provisions of the Education Law of
1955, the Ministry of Education is authorized to set up experi-
mental schools with different study programs. Some schools of this
type now exist, particularly in the field of training of elementary
teachers, with the aim of testing possible reform measures in the
Budget. At both the Punta del Este conference and the Santiago
(Chile) conference on education and socioeconomic development,
Latin American countries were urged to establish as a goal the
setting aside of 4 per cent of gross national product during the
next decade for education. Venezuela is now approaching this goal.
Total expenditures on education during the 1961-62 academic year
were Bs.1,134,100,000, or 3.7 per cent of the Gross National Product
(GNP) of Bs.30,312,000,000. The increase in expenditures over
1956-57 was 166 per cent, while the GNP increased only 42 per cent,
which gives an idea of the effort that has been made in the field of
education. Education's place in the budget is now a respectable
one, with an allocation of Bs.879 million, or 14 per cent of the
total. Table 2 illustrates the development of these expenditures,
in relation to GNP, and also shows the amounts expended by the
private sector in education.
Annual Per Student and Per Inhabitant Cost. The annual cost
per student in the different fields of education in 1962 is shown
in Table 3.
Including both official and private expenditures, it is estimated
that Venezuela spends Bs.145 (equivalent to $43) per inhabitant
per year on education, one of the highest per capital rates in the
Enrollment. As a logical consequence of the increasing support


by both government and the private sector for education, enroll-
ment has increased almost vertically, as demonstrated in Table 4.


1956-57 1962 Change
Area of Expenditure (Millions of Bs.) (Millions of Bs.) (Per Cent)

National schools 172.5 586.0 240
State schools 54.9 156.0 184
Municipal schools 8.1 16.4 100
Other ministries 17.9 45.3 152
Autonomous institutes 15.5 75.9 389
Private schools* 156.2 254.5 63

Totals 425.1 1,134.1 166

Gross National Product 21,366.0 30,312.0 41.7



Schools Annual Cost in Bs.

Primary 271
Secondary 759
Normal 1,096
Industrial 763
Commercial 614
Artistic 770
Pedagogic institutes 2,115
University 6,130


Per Cent
Branch 1956-57 1961-62 Change

Preschool and Primary 694,193 1,297,965 87
Secondary 52,420 122,311 133
Normal 7,697 32,434 321
Technical 17,021 49,602 191
Pedagogic institutes 322 2,536 687
Universities 8,434 29,205 231
Adult Education 20,000 36,000 80

Totals 800,087 1,570,053 96

40 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
As a further illustration which will help understand Venezuela's
present educational situation, Table 5 shows enrollment in branches
of study and by grades for 1961-62.


1st 2d 3d 4th 5th 6th
Branch Year Year Year Year Year Year Totals

Preschool and
Primary 443,640 271,008 226,906 161,832 113,665 80,914 1,297,965
Secondary 47,699 29,762 21,241 13,960 9,649 --. 122,311
Normal 7,955 10,174 9,158 5,147 -- 32,434
Industrial 9,798 3,833 1,986 893 484 207 17,201
Commercial 15,325 5,966 2,730 706 558 -. 25,285
technical 5,141 1,272 511 90 21 81 7,116
institutes 1,096 644 522 274 ..... ... 2,536
University 13,063 6,263 4,705 3,202 1,625 347 29,205
Totals 543,717 328,922 267,759 186,104 126,002 81,549 1,534,053

An analysis of the data in Table 5 leads to the following con-

1. A ready acceptance by the populace as a whole of the govern-
ment's education policy, as demonstrated by the steady enrollment
increase in all branches.
2. Because of the great influx of recent years, some 57 per cent
of total enrollment is found in the first two years.
3. This great tide will swell the upper grades progressively dur-
ing the next three years.
4. The meager enrollment in the upper grades of industrial edu-
cation reflects the abandonment into which this field of instruc-
tion had fallen at a time when technical training is sorely needed
for the nation's development.
5. Artistic education is underdeveloped.
6. Normal schools will turn out 24,000 elementary teachers in
the next three years.
7. The first two years at the university level contain two-thirds of
the total, which means a sharp increase in university graduates in
coming years.
8. Preschool enrollment is disproportionately low because, for
the time being, available resources are being concentrated on pri-
mary education.

Children Not Enrolled in School. Venezuela's efforts to incorpo-
rate all its school age population into the education system have
earned recognition at several UNESCO (United Nations Educa-
tional, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) and OAS (Organiza-
tion of American States) conferences. At the third meeting of the
Inter-Governmental Committee in Mexico, in 1960, Venezuela held
first place in the application of Project No. 1, with an increase in
enrollment of 42 per cent. In the 1961-62 academic year, some
1,130,000 children of 7 to 13 were enrolled in primary and middle
education, representing 86 per cent of this age group in September,
1961. The remaining 190,000 children who were not enrolled in
school were, in large part, physically, mentally, or economically in-
capable of school attendance. It is estimated that 90,000 children
of this group could be educated in special schools which the country
has not yet been able to build, leaving 100,000 relatively normal
children not enrolled in school.
The situation of the 14-18 age group is completely different; en-
rollment among this group in 1961-62 was 300,000, out of a total of
800,000, or 37 per cent, leaving a deficit of 500,000. Since some of
the group will attend some kind of school before reaching the age
of 18, it probably would be accurate to place the deficit at 480,000.
Enrollment in the middle education bracket undoubtedly will in-
crease rapidly, due, first, to the larger numbers emerging from the
primary bracket and, second, to the growing readiness of Vene-
zuelan families to see that their children are educated. It is prob-
able that in 1965-66, enrollment will climb to 360,000 in middle
education, and if to this figure is added the number of the 14-18
age group still in primary education (about 70,000) the total en-
rollment for the age group will be around 430,000.
Urban-Rural Percentage. Population distribution in Venezuela
at present is 68 per cent in urban areas and 32 per cent in rural
areas, with a marked tendency toward further increase in the
former. According to the Ministry's figures, 76 per cent of primary
students attend city schools and 24 per cent go to rural schools,
which indicates a clear deficit in attendance among the rural
Enrollment by Sexes. The enrollment in all branches of educa-
tion, by sexes, during 1960-61, is shown in Table 6.
At present the division in primary schools is about even, but it
is expected that girls will begin to predominate in coming years.
The present line-up of elementary school teachers is 81 per cent

42 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
women and 29 per cent men; the high proportion of female stu-
dents in the normal schools indicates that this percentage will in-
crease still more in the future. By the same token, the entrance
of women into middle education as teachers is also increasing and,
as Table 6 shows, women now represent 57 per cent of enrollment
in the pedagogic institutes. In most of the other branches, the male
sex is overwhelmingly predominant, although it is expected that
female enrollment will increase gradually in the future.


Per Cent
Branch Male Female

Primary 51 49
Secondary 64 36
Normal 13 87
Technical 88 12
Pedagogic institutes 43 57
Universities 71 29

Withdrawals. The increases recorded in school enrollment in
recent years have been offset to a certain extent by the high ratio
of student withdrawals at all levels. This ratio in 1960-61 was 17
per cent in primary schools, 14 per cent in secondary schools, and
9.3 per cent in normal schools. Among the principal causes of this
are the low economic status of families concerned, the geographical
dispersion of the population which makes it difficult for students
to reach school, seasonal work, the lack of training of teachers, a
deficient system of examinations and promotions, inadequate build-
ings. Withdrawals and abandonment also have an effect on the
large annual enrollments, on the number of students who remain
several years in lower grades, and on low rendition by students.
Repeating Students. The number of repeating students in 1960-61
in primary schools was: first grade, 58.7 per cent; second grade,
13.9 per cent; third grade, 11.2 per cent; fourth grade, 8.9 per cent;
fifth grade, 5.3 per cent; sixth grade, 2 per cent; average, 19 per cent.
The same situation is found in other educational levels although
not in such an intensive degree. The high number of repeating

students is due to causes similar to those of withdrawals. The situa-
tion is particularly serious in the first grade of primary schools and
is a direct reflection of the low technical quality of the teachers of
this grade.
SAge Disparity. Another serious anomaly in the present situation
is the disparity between students' ages and the grades in which they
are enrolled. For example, only 44 per cent of the students in the
first and second primary grades fall within the normal age brackets
of 7-8 and 8-9 years, respectively. This disparity carries through
to the large number of primary students above 13, who, in 1961-62,
represented 14 per cent of total enrollment. The situation is due to
withdrawals, repeating students, and to the fact that, until recent
years, there was a very large number of children for whom school
facilities simply did not exist. Fortunately, the educational pro-
gram now being carried out is improving this particular problem
Teacher Situation. Only 36 per cent of the 47,354 teachers in
our educational system are graduates of the normal schools
or pedagogic institutes. The breakdown by the various branches of
education is shown in Table 7.


Branch Teachers Per Cent

Preschool and Primary 35,267 46
Secondary 4,816 19
Normal 1,952 9
Technical 2,226 4
Pedagogic institutes 209
Universities 2,884
Totals 47,354 36

The situation in primary education will improve considerably
within the next three years as the graduates of the normal schools
and on-the-job training programs come into activity, raising the
proportion of certificated teachers to 80 per cent. However, in
middle education, the prospects are less promising because of the

44 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
low enrollment in pedagogic institutes and because a teacher train-
ing program for the field of technical education has not yet been
started, which explains the presence of 1,200 foreign teachers in
this division. The faculties of the universities are, in general,
graduates of the universities themselves and their qualifications are
determined by their own provisions, in accordance with the au-
tonomy of these institutions.
Teacher Differentiation by Sex. There is now a strong majority
of women among primary teachers, a condition which will become
more pronounced with the high percentage of girl students in
normal schools. The same tendency is noted, although to a lesser
degree, in middle education due to the predominance of girls in
enrollment at the pedagogic institutes, now 57 per cent of the total.
The increasing participation by women in university careers, a
recent development, has also raised the number of women on uni-
versity faculties, although the percentage still is low. Details of
the general situation are given in Table 8.


Per Cent
Branch Men Women

Preschool and Primary 19 81
Secondary 68 32
Normal 60 40
Technical 74 26
University 90 10

II. Results of Educational Activities

The preceding review of some of the outstanding aspects of
Venezuela's educational system discloses a typical case of horizontal
development, marked by several undesirable inheritances from the
past. At present, our education is undergoing a rebirth and is in
the process of readjustment and consolidation. Consequently, the
results in terms of student development-evaluated through a sys-

ter of outdated examinations and incomplete statistics-must be
considered as very far from satisfactory. Thus, the results of the
final examinations of July, 1962, show an average of 66 per cent
in the primary field who passed all their examinations, ranging
from 50 per cent in the first grade to 84 per cent in the sixth. In
secondary education, the average was 38 per cent, the range going
from 33 per cent in the first year to 69 per cent in the fifth. The
normal school average was 44.5 per cent, ranging from 38.5 per cent
in the first year to 82 per cent in the fourth. Make-up examinations
are given in September and December of each year, and the results
obtained raise these percentages considerably.
Another index by which results may be measured is the conti-
nuity of students through their school years, and in this respect
the statistics are encouraging. In the primary schools, the figure
for the years 1954-55 to 1959-60 was 27.1 per cent, and this had
risen to 33.4 per cent in the period from 1956-57 to 1961-62, an in-
crease of 6.3 per cent. A similar trend may be noted in secondary
education; the rate rose from 39 per cent in the period from 1955-
56 to 1959-60 to 44.4 per cent in 1961-62, a rise of 5.4 per cent.
Literacy Program. Venezuela under her present democratic gov-
ernment has carried out a remarkable literacy program, and in the
first three years of its operation some 1,070,000 persons of more
than 10 years of age have been taught to read and write. The
1961 census showed that the number of illiterates in the country
has been reduced to 1,357,108, approximately 28 per cent of the
population, and it is fully expected that illiteracy eventually will
be cut to 10 per cent. Our literacy program has earned inter-
national recognition, and Venezuela has provided materials and
technical assistance for the literacy programs of Panama, Honduras,
and Bolivia.
School Construction. In 1958, of 8,969 schools existing in the
country, only about 900 of them operated in adequate buildings,
which had been constructed in a period of 54 years. The remaining
schools were conducted in rented buildings or in inadequate facili-
ties that were thoroughly unfitted for the schooling function.
Given this situation, plus the tremendous expansion of educa-
tional activities in general, the government devised an ambitious
school construction program and put it into effect with the co-
operation of state and municipal governments.
The results obtained to date have improved the situation con-
siderably. In a period of only three years, 1,322 buildings for pri-

46 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
mary schools have been built and put into operation, representing
an investment of approximately Bs.327 million. Construction costs
are estimated at Bs.1,230 per student. The new buildings contain
5,344 classrooms which, with those already in existence, give our
system a total of 11,036.
Many more school buildings are still needed, for it is estimated
that there is a deficit of 7,000 classrooms, and at the current estimate
of cost-per-student this construction will require an investment of
some Bs.400 million. But the short-term building program to supply
the deficit has already begun.
The major problems which we must deal with in the near future
involve the improvement of the results of our teaching. It is im-
possible to set forth all these problems in detail, but some of the
more important ones are discussed in the following paragraphs.
Quantitative Problems. To the existing deficit of 7,000 pri-
mary classrooms must be added 500 each year for the normal
increase in enrollment. By the same token, construction of
classrooms and shops for middle education is needed to meet present
inadequacies and to make provision for the large increases that will
occur in the near future as children move up from primary schools.
And the same process will make its effects felt in the needs of
higher education, particularly if the universities diversify their
curricula to meet the needs of the economic and social development
of the country.
The deficit in the primary education picture is not restricted
to classrooms. In the matter of desks alone, there is a deficit
of 35 per cent, in blackboards of 33 per cent, and similar or
greater deficits exist in all classroom equipment, such as cabinets,
shelves, bookcases, and seats.
Included in the category of teaching materials is the equipment
needed by both teachers and students, especially those in the pri-
mary grades. Because of the low economic level of many, perhaps
the majority, of families of primary age students, the legal man-
date that primary education is to be compulsory and free must be
supplemented by free supplies of text books, readers, notebooks,
pencils, paper, and other tools of the classroom. Unfortunately,
this cannot be done because of lack of funds. A conservative esti-
mate of the cost of such measures is Bs.15 million. In middle
education, it is equally necessary to provide a greater number of
shops, laboratories, map collections, audiovisual aids, and other

Aid Programs. Despite substantial advances in free services for
students, including food, clothing, and scholarships, there is an
urgent need for at least doubling the amounts spent for dining
rooms and scholarships. In 1962, expenditures for these services
(including those on a national, state, and municipal level) ex-
ceeded Bs.60 million. This amount, nevertheless, falls far short
of meeting the need.
Teacher Training. Now that the training of teachers for primary
grades is well on the way to solution, steps must be taken to expand
the training of middle-level teachers. It will be necessary to reform
and increase the facilities of the pedagogic institutes so that they
will be able to graduate an annual quota of teachers that will per-
mit gradual covering of the high existing deficit plus the new re-
quirements deriving from the growth of secondary and technical
education during the next few years.
Reform of Study Plans and Programs. The study plans and pro-
grams now being used in primary education date from 1944, while
those of secondary education were revised provisionally in 1961.
The former, consequently, are antiquated and not in keeping with
the social and economic growth of the country. Their reform is
indispensable. To that end, the Ministry has named a special com-
mission, attached to the Planning Office, which will draw up new
plans and programs after consultation with teachers and with social
groups interested in improving the content of our teaching.
Training of Educational Leaders. The first class of primary
school supervisors has just completed its first year of study, and
vocational classes are now being held for 600 directors and assis-
tant directors of schools. It would be advisable to systematize this
kind of study and to extend it to middle education. The success of
the school system depends to a large extent on adequately trained
supervisors and school directors.
Educational Planning. The Planning Office of the Ministry has in
hand well-advanced studies in basic research of a social and statis-
tical order. In the basis of these studies, short-, medium-, and
long-term administrative programs and goals are drawn up, and the
budget of the Ministry is also based on them. Seven special com-
mittees have been named by the Ministry to assist in drawing up
these plans dealing with organization, financing, administration,
and teaching.
Legal Questions. The reform of the present organization of the
Ministry is expected to produce substantial benefits in providing

48 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
an increased degree of functional efficiency and greater operational
flexibility. It is also to be hoped that Congress will act to rewrite
the 1955 Education Law, which does not conform to provisions of
the 1961 constitution nor to the general advancement of the coun-
try in recent years.
Financial Matters. A study of the sources of financing will be
of supreme importance in aiding official organizations to stand up
to the impact of the dizzying growth of educational services at the
middle and superior levels in coming years. Substantial economic
obligations must be assumed as a result of increased enrollment
at all levels, the urgent construction needs, and the demand for
equipment, increased supervision, and other problems. This is an
unprecedented expansion which will continue for a number of
years, until the rate of development stabilizes. Although the gen-
eral outlines of this expansion are known and studies have been
made for plans to deal with it, it is impossible to estimate with
certainty the amount of money that will be needed each year, al-
though tentative calculations have been made.
It may be possible to offset these large expenditures somewhat by
regularizing a number of abnormal situations deriving from the
period prior to 1958, such as the volume of students above normal
age, repeating students, and withdrawing students. At the same
time, it must be remembered that special facilities must be con-
structed for not less than 90,000 physically, mentally, and eco-
nomically defective students. The analysis of the sources of financ-
ing for these imperious needs is a task for specialized agencies, and
it is probable that recourse may have to be had to international
sources as provided in the agreements signed in this area by
Orientation of Fundamental Policy. Venezuela's over-all educa-
tion policy must be capped by a clear-cut position with respect to
the type of man that is to be shaped in our schools. This is a prob-
lem of social philosophy that arises from constitutional and legal
provisions; if it is not solved, all our work in education would lose
its fundamental meaning.
And this basic position must be projected to all sectors of the
school system's organization and operation, such as teacher training,
study plans and programs, supervision of teaching, evaluation and
promotion of students, and teaching methods.
The basic need of this problem, there can be no doubt, is to
shape a type of free, responsible, and productive man who is capable

of being sufficient unto himself as a member of the community and
of serving effectively the fundamental interests of his own com-
munity and of the nation. He is the man of our developing de-
mocracy on whom rest all the hopes for the future of the country.
The definition of the image of the Venezuelan man needed for our
times must be based on a profound knowledge of our historical
development, our most cherished traditions, and our characteristics
as a young and developing people.
Basic to this point are the studies of the economic and social
development of the country and the projection of short-, medium-,
and long-term plans which different government agencies are draw-
ing up for industrial, agricultural, fishing, housing, health, highway,
communications, and immigration programs. Such studies are not
the direct responsibility of the Ministry of Education, but our
Planning Office is well aware of the advances achieved by these
specialized agencies in determining the number of highly skilled
technicians and specialized labor required by the government's
plans for social and economic development, and the general ten-
dencies followed in our education system conform to these goals.
All our educational authorities are also well aware that if our
people receive, in increasing degree and quantity, a higher educa-
tional level, it will be reflected in higher indices of productivity and
in the general welfare of the community.


Francisco De Venanzi: THE ROLE OF THE

I. Historical Summary

CARACAS, Venezuela's capital, was founded by Diego de Lozada
in 1567. In 1589, the governing council felt it necessary to dispatch
an envoy to the court of King Philip II in Spain with a series of
requests for the small city of 2,000 souls and for the provinces.
Among the requests presented to the King was one for adequate
means to satisfy the cultural needs of the colony. An ancestor of
our Liberator, who bore the same name, Don Sim6n de Bolivar,
was selected as the emissary, and he carried out his mission suc-
cessfully. On his return in 1593, he was able to report that the
royal assent had been granted to requests for the establishment of
a class in grammar and a seminary. The latter, which was named
the Tridentine Seminary of St. Rose of Lima, was founded in pro-
visional form in 1641, was improved somewhat in 1673, and nine
years later, in 1682, was installed on a definitive basis.
In order to obtain their doctorates, the graduates of the seminary
had to make a difficult and dangerous journey, often placing their
lives in jeopardy, to Mexico, Santo Domingo, or Santa Fe. Bishop
Escalona y Calatayud took a keen interest in raising the status of
the seminary to that of a university, but it was only after great
difficulties that he was able to persuade King Philip V, in 1721, to
give his approval and to issue a royal certificate attesting the change.
The following year, Pope Innocent XIII also approved the new
university through a papal bull. The inauguration of the Royal

and Pontifical University of Caracas took place in a solemn cere-
mony held August 11, 1725. The Canon of the Cathedral of
Caracas, Francisco Martinez de Porras (who was also Rector of the
seminary), was named its first Rector.
In 1785, the Seminary College of San Buenaventura was founded
in the high Andean city of Merida, and this institution was raised
to university status in 1810 by the order of the Patriotic Junta of
that city. The previous year, the College had been granted authori-
zation by King Charles IV to establish courses in grammar, philos-
ophy, canon law, and the sacred scriptures and to issue degrees in
those studies.
Of much more recent date was the foundation of the remaining
state universities. The University of Zulia, created May 29, 1891,
was closed by order of President Cipriano Castro in 1904 and not
reopened until October 1, 1946. The University of Carabobo at
Valencia was inaugurated in 1958, and the University of Oriente
(East) began its activities in 1960, but does not as yet have au-
tonomy. The University of Lara, at Barquisimeto, is in the process
of organization. These, with the private universities, Cat6lica An-
drds Bello and Santa Maria of Caracas, complete the list of centers
of higher learning which now exist in Venezuela.

II. The Evolution of University Autonomy in Venezuela

The slow processes of time that led to the establishment of
centers of free analysis, which, in the final instance, is what au-
tonomous universities represent, were carried forward principally
in Central University, the chief center of higher learning.
The first expression of university autonomy occurred in 1780 as
a result of a conflict when the Chancellor, or Director of Studies,
Don Francisco Fernindez de Le6n, a Canon of the Cathedral who
had jurisdiction over the academic activities of the University
(Maestrescuela), became involved in a violent controversy with
the Rector and the faculty. The situation reached such a point that
the Chancellor detained the Rector in the University and prevented
attempts by the Bishop at mediation. When news of this reached
Spain, Charles III issued a royal decree in 1784, separating the
University from the Seminary and authorizing the election of the
Rector every two years by "the full faculty of Doctors." The decree
also stipulated that the Rector must be, in alternate years, a reli-
gious and a lay person. Autonomy was maintained with the advent

52 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
of independence and the University acquired the character of a lay,
liberal institution, open to all, regardless of race, class, or beliefs.
During the government of Jos6 Tadeo Monagas, there was open
interference with the principle of autonomy as a result of the Law
of 1849, which opened the way for the removal of professors un-
sympathetic to the government and forbade the participation of
these men in the competition for university posts. The complete
suppression of autonomy occurred in 1883 under the administration
of President Antonio Guzmin Blanco when the appointment and
removal of faculty members was taken over by the government and
university property was ordered sold. The government took over
administration of all universities.
The education law of 1940, sponsored by Arturo Uslar Pietri
during the government of Eleazar L6pez Contreras, began the
movement to restore autonomy. Under the terms of this law, each
school of the university was to elect two candidates to a list to be
submitted to the government, which would select therefrom a
Rector, Vice-Rector, and Secretary, who would serve three-year
terms. This progressive step was suppressed in 1943.
In 1946, Rector Juan Oropeza named a committee of outstanding
university men to draft a law which would permit the autonomous
operation of the universities. They drafted the Organic University
Statute, which went far to restore autonomy, and it was promulgated
the same year. Despite the fact that the government retained the
right to name the three top authorities-Rector, Vice-Rector, and
Secretary-this legal instrument marked a definite step forward.
University autonomy persisted, under these conditions, after the
coup d'etat of 1948 that overthrew the government of President
R6mulo Gallegos, which was replaced by the military junta of
Carlos Delgado Chalbaud, Marcos Perez Jiminez, and Luis Felipe
Llovera Piez. When Delgado Chalbaud was assassinated, he was
replaced by Dr. German Suirez Flamerich, and, in the absence of
Delgado Chalbaud's moderating influence, repression was intensi-
fied. In this oppressive atmosphere, the universities continued to
operate as islands of freedom, being able to retain professors con-
sidered enemies of the government because of the stability guaran-
teed by the Statute. The student bodies reacted antagonistically to
the government policy, giving rise to a climate of internal tension
which affected instruction in the universities and at times spilled
over beyond the cloister walls into street disturbances.
Because of the situation thus created, the Rector of Central

University, Dr. Julio de Armas; the Vice-Rector, Dr. Ismael Puerta
Flores, and the Secretary, Dr. Hector Hernrndez Carabafio, were
forced to resign. The appointment of their replacements, brought
in from the University of Merida, in September, 1951, unleashed
a wave of student protest that was used as the pretext for outright
suppression of autonomy and intervention of the University, and
on October 17 a decree was issued naming a Reform Council. Still
graver repercussions then occurred; the suppression of autonomy
was followed by the expulsion, imprisonment, and exile of pro-
fessors and students who fought the measure.
These events made it extremely difficult to continue the Uni-
versity in operation, but this finally was achieved and it functioned
without academic independence during the subsequent government
of PNrez Jimenez, still more tyrannical and severe. Agents of the
infamous National Security Police were "planted" among Uni-
versity personnel for direct spying on activities, and a rigid control
of University City was established.
The weak voices of protest raised on the campus were easily
silenced until November 21, 1957, when the famous student strike,
forerunner of the downfall of the dictatorship, was smashed with
extreme violence.
Dr. de Armas, the Minister of Education in the provisional
government headed by Wolfgang Larrazibal, named a University
Commission which was asked to draw up a new law embodying
autonomy and to operate Central University until the law was
enacted. This came about December 5, 1958, with the issuance of
a decree-law granting full autonomy to the nation's universities,
an autonomy which remains in effect to this day.

III. Organization Structure of the Autonomous University

Our academic and administrative autonomy is broad and ample.
The universities are required to submit an accounting and an annual
report to Congress through the Ministry of Education and are
subject to control after the fact by the Comptroller General's office.
There are no restrictions of racial, political, religious, or eco-
nomic character to a position as a faculty member or as a member
of the student body. Faculty positions, by the provisions of the
law, must be won in competitive examinations. There is a high
level of stability within the faculty and its members may not be
removed except for causes specifically established by law, and then

54 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
after a fair trial. There is complete freedom of teaching and of
research, and the University is open to all currents of universal
thought. It is inspired by the concept of democracy in government,
of social justice, and of respect for human rights. It has a respon-
sibility to assess the country's problems but without neglecting its
basic mission.
Seeking to provide equal opportunities for all in the field of
higher education, the law establishes that undergraduate studies
are free-an old and cherished Venezuelan tradition and one that
has permitted large numbers of students from lower economic
levels to complete their university training. The law also estab-
lishes that the national budget allocation for the country's uni-
versities is to be at least 1.5 per cent of the total government budg-
et, although the drafting Commission had sought to make this
figure 3 per cent in order to ensure a flourishing university de-
velopment program. The 1963 budget, now under discussion, pro-
vides for an allocation that amounts to 1.84 per cent of the total.


Educa- Govern- 1 as Per
Alloca- Addi- tion ment Cent of
Year tions tions Total Budget Budget 5
(000 Bs.) (000 Bs.) (000 Bs.) (000 Bs.) (000 Bs.) (000 Bs.)
1 2 3 4 5 6
1956-57 27,452 500 27,952 168,948 2,660,000 1.03
1957-58 29,704 11,291 40,995 178,341 2,800,000 1.06
1962 109,200 18,000* 127,200 579,150 5,942,000 1.84

*Estimated additions due to shortages of funds.

The University Council is the highest university authority. It
is composed of the Rector, the Vice-Rector, the Secretary, the deans,
a representative of the Ministry of Education, an alumni repre-
sentative, and three student delegates elected by the student body.

The Rector is the presiding officer of the Council, the legal repre-
sentative of the University and, with the Vice-Rector and the
Secretary, is responsible for administrative and educational opera-
tions at their highest level. These three officials are elected to
four-year terms by the claustros, made up of the faculties, alumni
representatives, and one student for each forty enrolled.
In Venezuela, we use the Spanish word Facultad as the equiva-
lent for the term "school" as used in universities of many other
countries. The Facultades, which enjoy a considerable degree of
autonomy, are governed by their own councils and deans, who
are the presiding officers of the councils as well as executive
officers of the Facultades. The councils include, in addition to
the deans, seven professors, elected by their fellows; an alumni
representative, and two student delegates elected by the student
body. There is another body known as the "Assembly of the
Facultad," which consists of the professors, student representatives
equal to 25 per cent of the number of professors, and five alumni
representatives. These groups receive the semester report of the
Dean and decide questions of major import when they arise. The
Assembly also elects the Dean, for a term of three years.
Other bodies of great importance in the University are the
Council of Scientific and Humanistic Development, which has
charge of promoting, coordinating, and stimulating scientific re-
search in the University in much the same manner as is done by
National Research Councils in those countries which have such
agencies; and the Development Council, which seeks to increase
the University's income and to expand its property.
The University organization chart includes the Administration
Office, the Faculty Welfare Institute, the Student Welfare Organi-
zation, the Cultural Administration (cultural extension, informa-
tion, and public relations), the Central Library, the Development
Office, the Planning Office, the University Maintenance Office,
Sports Direction, and others.
The National University Council carries out the over-all coordi-
nation of university education in Venezuela. This body, presided
over by the Minister of Education, is made up of the Rector, one
Dean, and one student from each university, national or private.
It has important attributes including the approval of the estab-
lishment of new Facultades, schools, or institutes in the universi-
ties, on the fulfillment of certain requirements for their proper

56 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
IV. University Expansion

It may be said that the new era which opened for Venezuela with
the overthrow of the dictatorship in 1958 has been characterized
chiefly by a spirit of rebirth and expansion of the country's educa-
tional activities. Many mistakes have been made in the dizzying
growth of our educational facilities; some of these mistakes have be-
come more apparent in the expansion process, and other new ones
have occurred because of the speed with which the country has
set out to build an educational system adequate for the masses of
our population. In spite of these admitted defects, the over-all
balance may be considered positive.
The autonomous universities have played an active and dynamic
part in the country's educational development. A brief look at
their individual growth gives a clear indication of the magnitude
of the expansion they have undergone.
The University of Carabobo, which had its start in a small School
of Law established by Central University in the city of Valencia,
now has 1,730 students. The University of Zulia in Maracaibo,
which had 630 students when the dictatorship fell, now has an
enrollment of 5,232. The University of Los Andes in M6rida had
1,395 students in 1957 and this figure has now grown to 3,973. In
the same period, the enrollment at Central University has increased
from 5,486 to 17,300. The University of Oriente (East), which did
not exist in 1957, now has 919 students enrolled in regular academic
courses and 580 students taking technical courses. This means
that in five years' time total enrollment in the five government
universities has grown from 7,511 to 31,154.
To make adequate provision for this substantial growth, a deter-
mined effort has been made to organize courses, sections, schools,
institutes, and Facultades, in addition to creating new universities.
One of the greatest difficulties, logically, has been that of the avail-
ability of faculty members. Plans have been drafted for the train-
ing of this personnel, qualified people have been brought in from
abroad, and competent laymen in Venezuela have been persuaded
to take time from their regular occupations to help out. Un-
fortunately, the quality of instruction has not always been all
that could be desired, but special emphasis has been directed toward
correcting these shortcomings. All the universities have consider-
ably increased their library resources and their equipment. The
increases in budget allocations and construction have fallen short



of actual needs, even though the expansion of government invest-
ment has been substantial.

V. Central University
To illustrate the progress of greatest interest during this period,
let us consider the case of Central University (although it should
be borne in mind that in the other universities as well great strides
have been made toward improvement of the country's higher edu-
Before entering into the details of progress achieved at our
University, I would like to point out that during this whole process
we have been able to maintain in all its ramifications the spirit of
an open institution, free of discrimination of any kind, and with
the complete academic freedom which is the fundamental raison
d'etre of the autonomy principle. No professor has been fired be-
cause of his ideological position nor has anyone been refused a job
for such reasons, providing he meets the legal and technical
During recent years, the tension among political groups active
in Venezuela has increased markedly and several serious crises
have arisen. As normally happens, when social and political prob-
lems exist in the community, their repercussions extend, in lesser
or greater degree, to the university; this is particularly true with
respect to the student body which, in youthful ardor, takes part
in activities of a political nature that tend to affect the operation
and stability of the university. This circumstance has created prob-
lems for the government universities and has lessened somewhat
their effectiveness as educational institutions. And at Central Uni-
versity, there have been sporadic but serious incidents which have
threatened its very structure. The full maintenance of university
autonomy, together with the independence of the political criterion
of university authorities, has been particularly effective in dealing
with these situations. In addition, the respect toward all currents
of thought that prevails in the University has sharply limited the
possibility of political conflict among the members of the faculty.
When the dictatorship was overthrown, construction of the Uni-
versity City, which serves as Central University's seat, was well ad-
vanced. Begun during the presidency of Isaias Medina Angarita,
the project progressed rapidly during the dictatorship, which gave
high priority to public works construction in its over-all policies.

58 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
In January, 1958, many of the buildings were not being fully uti-
lized, and there were some that had not been completed. Since
that date, in addition to a number of expansion projects, the
Odontology School and several athletic installations have been
completed. The building for the Pharmacy School has been com-
pleted from scratch. Outside University City, we have con-
structed the Basic Science building of a School of Medicine at-
tached to the Vargas Hospital, new facilities for the Schools of
Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine at Maracay, a Food Technology
Laboratory in Colinas de Bello Monte, and substantial progress
has been made on an Experimental Biology Laboratory. At present,
work is proceeding on the Chemical Engineering and Mechanics
and Electricity school buildings, the Facultad of Economics
building, and two buildings for the Facultad of Science. Existing
facilities are being fully used, and we face serious space problems
which must be solved in the near future.
The increase in Central University's activities is reflected in the
greater budget allocations made to it by the government. In 1957,
this allocation was Bs.17.5 million, and by 1962 the figure had
risen to Bs.71.6 million. During the last year of the dictatorship,
the University's revenues, which included matriculation fees paid
by students, were Bs.3.5 million. At present they are Bs.6.5 million,
not including the income from matriculation fees, which were
eliminated when free education was restored.
From the start of the University City project, an important area
of its grounds was earmarked for the construction of rental prop-
erties for the University. However, in spite of sustained pressure
by the University, this type of work has not prospered. Other
areas that had also been designated as the site of rental properties
for the University have not been handed over to it, and all this
has reduced the institution's source of income substantially.
Although budget allocations have increased substantially in re-
cent years, the rate of enrollment increase has been even greater.
Experience has shown that the amount of Bs.5,000 per student per
year is the requisite contribution needed from the government to
permit normal development of university activities. Table 2 shows
the evolution of this figure during the last decade.
The 1962-63 enrollment at Central University reflects a levelling
off in the rate of increase because of conditions affecting the middle
education field last year, chiefly student withdrawals. However,
all statistical evidence is that enrollment will continue to grow

during the next few years. All our facilities are now crowded with
students, and a change is being introduced into the enrollment
system; formerly open to all, it is now being made more selective,
with established enrollment quotas. This system has been applied
in the School of Medicine and has been approved for the different
engineering schools. Its application in the School of Agronomy is
under study. This decision was taken because it has become evi-
dent that enrollment scarcely can continue to grow without jeopard-
izing the quality of instruction. It is also hoped to raise the
calibre of students and thus increase the University's effectiveness.


Cost per Year per Student
Year Bs.

1953-54 4,270
1954-55 4,493
1955-56 5,070
1956-57 4,398
1957-58 4,867
1958-59 4,605
1959-60 4,477
1960-61 4,805
1961-62 4,302

Advantage has been taken of the expansion process to apply in its
full force the basic policy established by the present administration
of creating a faculty whose members dedicate their full time to
their work as professors. In the past, Central University, like
the majority of Latin American universities, has been a training
ground for professors, presided over by professional men who
dedicate a few hours each week to the University. This condition
has been one of the principal reasons that have hampered the de-
velopment of a corpus of qualified instructors and of research. Long
hours of work are essential to orient and guide students and to
perform effective administrative-educational work. As one means
of promoting a full-time teaching career, the law provides for

60 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
such professorships. These full-time positions require the same
number of hours (38 per week) as are worked by those dedicated
exclusively to teaching, but the law permits, subject to University
Council approval, that full-time professors may work outside the
University to a restricted extent. When the dictatorship fell, there
were approximately 100 full-time professors out of a total of 897
on Central University's faculty. In the 1961-62 academic year, this
number had risen to 650 out of a total of 1,889. Furthermore, a
large part of the School of Medicine faculty handling clinical in-
struction, who dedicated only a few hours a week to actual teaching,
were placed on half-time (20 hours a week). Table 3 shows the
breakdown in the amount of time given by faculty members to
their teaching.


School Full-Time Half-Time Part-Time Total

Agronomy 102 4 27 133
Architecture 15 16 101 132
Science 93 8 14 115
Law 21 16 99 136
Economics 58 14 186 258
Pharmacy 25 4 25 54
Humanities 95 45 57 197
Engineering 97 20 73 190
Medicine 97 373 80 550
Odontology 13 40 28 81
Veterinary Medicine 34 12 7 53
Total 650 552 697 1,899

The proportion of full-time personnel has
more during the current academic year, and

been increased still
many requests have

been received for additional changes; approval of these requests is
limited only by budget and space reasons. By the same token, the
number of professor-hours per student has increased considerably.

The University has contracted a large number of professors from
abroad, some of them of international fame. At present, there are
more than 100 of these men active at Central University, but the
establishment of differential exchange rates for the bolivar and
budgetary limitations have reduced the University's ability to uti-
lize this type of professor. On the other hand, steps have been
taken to train outstanding graduates for teaching and for research,
either through on-the-job training with established professors or
through sending them abroad. The Council for Scientific and
Humanistic Development offers scholarships for one, two, or three
years of specialized work abroad. Some 131 scholarship holders
have returned to Central University and are teaching full-time,
for the most part. There are now 76 others studying abroad under
such scholarships. One type of scholarship, available to men with
five years of teaching experience, makes possible refresher courses
in their particular fields. It has not been economically feasible to
establish the sabbatical year, but these scholarships go part way
toward supplying that deficit. Special courses in educational fields
also have been instituted for instructors who have shown develop-
ment aptitude.
As is the case in many small or underdeveloped countries, there
is practically no possibility in Venezuela for the movement of
teaching personnel from one university to another, which is of
great importance in career progress in the more advanced nations.
As a result, a relatively rigid system of promotion must accompany
the factor of stability if we are going to shape a professorial class
that is at once qualified and dedicated almost entirely to its role
as educators. The provisions of the current law call for a man to
start as an instructor, after having passed the competitive exam-
inations. A minimum of two years and an original work are re-
quired for the next step, that of assistant professor, at which point
he gains stability of employment. Then, intervals of four, four,
and five years, with special study in each case, are successively re-
quired for the positions of attached, associate, and full professor.
After four years, the full-time professor is designated first class and
after eight years, second class. Table 4 shows the comparative wage
scales for these professors and their counterparts in Columbia
University, as a typical United States university.
An effort has been made to balance the rigidity of the salary-
promotion structure and employment stability through flexibility
in rotation of occupancy of administrative-educational positions.

62 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
The council of each Facultad, subject to approval by the University
Council, may designate course directors, department heads, and
directors of schools and institutes. The latter are named for three
years and may be reappointed. In a course involving a number
of professors, the position of director of a course need not be given
necessarily to the man with most seniority or highest rank in the
salary-promotion structure.


Yearly ($) Monthly ($) Yearly (Bs.)* Monthly (Bs.)

Central University: Full Time
Full professor 10,097 841 45,840 3,820
Associate 7,982 665 36,240 3,020
Attached 6,396 553 29,040 2,420
Assistant 4,810 401 21,840 1,820
Instructor 4,282 357 19,440 1,620
Central University: Full Time and Exclusive
Full professor 12,740 1,062 57,840 4,820
Associate 10,625 885 48,240 4,020
Attached 9,040 753 41,040 3,420
Assistant 7,454 621 33,840 2,820
Instructor 6,925 577 31,440 2,620
Columbia University
Full professor 12,500 1,042 56,750 4,729
Associate 8,000 667 36,320 3,027
Assistant 7,000 583 31,780 2,648
Instructor 5,500 458 24,070 2,081

*Exchange rate used: BS.4.54 to the dollar.

As a means of strengthening the social security of faculty mem-
bers, the Faculty Welfare Institute was set up, in consultation with
the Professors' Association. The Institute provides faculty mem-
bers with a Bs.100,000 life insurance policy, with double indemnity
for accidental death, plus health insurance features. The full

cost of premiums for full-time and full-time and exclusive faculty
members is borne by the University, while half the cost is paid for
other faculty members. There is also a thrift plan which makes
short- and long-term loans to members; the latter type of loan,
whose maximum is Bs.60,000, is now being used extensively for
home building. Faculty members contribute 5 per cent of their
salaries to the thrift fund and the University contributes half this
amount. The Welfare Institute has thrived and now possesses
substantial economic strength. Recently a pharmaceutical center
was established which provides faculty members with drugs and
medicines at reduced prices.


Type of Personnel Number Per Cent

Administration 107 2.5
Teaching staff* 1,899 44.2
Auxiliary teaching staff 367 8.5
Office 692 16.1
Technical staff 328 7.6
Service staff 531 12.3
Personnel under contract 8 .2
Labor force 372 8.6

Total 4,304 100.0

*Includes those under contract.

A pension program is operated which provides pensions equal
to 75 per cent of the average salary for the last five years of service.
Faculty members may take retirement after 20 years of service, if
they have reached age 60, and after 25 years of service, regardless of
age. Pensions also are provided for faculty members who may
become incapacitated.
One of the principal objectives of the present University admin-
istration has been to guarantee equality of opportunity in higher
education. This is the reason for the re-establishment of free uni-

64 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
versity education and for the great strengthening of student wel-
fare plans, in which Bs.4.6 million were invested in 1962. The
students pay Bs.75 per year to this fund, their only expense during
their university career, and payment may be waived if evidence
shows the student's inability to meet the obligation. For the 1962-63
academic year, student contributions to this fund totaled Bs.1,246,
800. During the 1961-62 school year, all students who needed aid
and who met the requirements were given help; 522 scholarships
of Bs.200 monthly (for ten months) were granted, along with 260
dormitory scholarships and 350 meal scholarships. There is also
an assistance system for emergencies, medical and dental services,
a cut-rate bookstore, and low-cost dining rooms-a student can eat
satisfactorily on Bs.5 a day, and the dining rooms serve an average
of 1,800 meals daily. There are now some 1,000 students who live
in dormitories. When the dictatorship fell, there were only 130 stu-
dents living in dormitories, and the only scholarships in existence
consisted of waivers of the matriculation fee.
A number of factors have combined to increase the literary and
scientific output of the University, including the increase in full-
time and full-time and exclusive personnel, training of personnel,
contracting of researchers, opening new centers of study, the cre-
ation of the University Press and encouragement of literary work,
expansion of libraries and equipment, and the requirement of
original works for promotions.
The work of the Council of Scientific and Humanistic Develop-
ment has been of particular importance in this last respect. In
addition to its granting of scholarships mentioned earlier, it ad-
ministers funds for research and publication. It has an annual budg-
et of Bs.4 million, and has made 94 grants for research projects.
At present the demand for such grants exceeds the money available.
In some cases, the University makes contracts with governmental
agencies or with private firms for special projects, and it also re-
ceives donations for these purposes. This type of operation is in
its initial stage in Venezuela.
A number of textbooks have been published in recent years and
many others now are being prepared.
The Council for Postgraduate Studies was formed recently to
stimulate study programs for those who have obtained their first
university degree and wish to continue their studies. Such post-
graduate courses now are given in some Facultades, but the Council
hopes to be able to have them introduced into all, give them

greater uniformity, coordinate the programs, and standardize re-
quirements for degrees.
It has been proposed that the University eliminate the traditional
system of awarding the doctorate upon the presentation of a thesis,
as the only requirement for the degree after completion of regular
studies. Steps already have been taken in some Facultades to re-
quire study in advanced courses in such cases, which would give
the candidate a more solid grounding in his field.
Extension services have been actively operated both within and
outside the University, and some 18,000 persons have taken the
general interest courses offered in the last three years. These
services extend to different regions of the country as well as
The University, in addition, is the major center of cultural
dissemination in Venezuela through its own groups such as the
University Choral, the Estudiantina (a musical group), the Stu-
dent Chamber Orchestra, the Professional Chamber Orchestra, and
the Dance Group, and through outside organizations that are con-
tracted to give performances within the University.
Of profound concern to most universities is the effort to counter-
balance the restrictive nature of specialized studies through atten-
tion to integral development of the student's knowledge. Several
procedures have been adopted in the effort to widen the student's
cultural horizons throughout his years at the University. There is
a Commission of General Studies which has this as its goal. In
many of our schools, courses in humanities are required studies.
In the University's Cultural Office, there is a Department of Gen-
eral Studies which acts as the executive arm of the Commission of
General Studies. The Cultural Office also has organized on a
permanent basis activities designed to awaken the interest of stu-
dents in cultural affairs.
Special attention has been given by the University to athletics,
and its sports installations are of the first order. Instruction and
training are given in the different branches. University teams
occupy a high position in the athletic structure of the country and
frequently participate in international meets. An effort is made
also to interest the mass of the student body in these activities
through intramural sports events. In the school year 1961-62, the
University expended Bs.602,969 on its sports program.
A University Planning Office has been established which works
in cooperation with the Statistics Department, the Computing

66 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
Section, and the Construction Planning Office. The University
Planning Office has done important work in the organization of
enrollment, analysis of student performance, mechanization of
study control, integration of the different levels of education, de-
sign of different study opportunities, and professional information.
A Planning Council is now being organized. It will organize
periodic seminars on planning and will provide guidelines to the
University in the directions it should follow if it is to fulfill its
objectives most effectively.

From what has been said, it is clear that the advent of demo-
cratic government and the institution of the principle of autonomy
have had a great impact on university education. Central Univer-
sity, the oldest and best developed institution of its type in the
country, has utilized to the maximum the benefits of autonomy
and has taken giant strides in converting an archaic organization
into a modern and efficient study center. Much remains to be done
in order to achieve satisfactory goals, but a solid foundation has
been laid on which to build and to progress toward those goals.


Santiago Vera Izquierdo: THE ROLE OF PRIVATE

IT IS NOT with the attitude of one who considers it his patriotic
duty to parade before his foreign friends only the most favorable
aspects of his country, its life, its culture, and its achievements that
I am here. Nor is it my intention to blame the present government
of Venezuela or its predecessors for any shortcomings I may dis-
close to you in the field of private education in Venezuela. On
the contrary, I shall try to present an objective view of the vital
question of the state of private education in Venezuela at the pres-
ent moment and the role it plays in national affairs. In order to
bring the present picture into focus, I must start out with a brief
survey of the history of education in Venezuela.

During the period of Venezuelan history known as "the Colony,"
education was almost completely in the hands of the Church
through its missionaries, and although the Crown supported the
Church, as was customary of the epoch, the type of education
prevailing must be considered as private, if judged by modern
standards. The State had no control over educational institutions
and exercised no supervision over their educational activities. It
is important to bear this fact in mind in order to put in their
proper perspective later encroachments by the State on the preroga-
tives of private schools.
The first educational institution in Venezuela was founded in

68 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
1516 by the Franciscan Order, and it provided instruction for
the Indians. Throughout the Colonial period, schools grew in
number as well as in the breadth and depth of the subjects taught.
The old Seminary of Santa Rosa in Caracas was granted the rank
of Royal and Pontifical University in 1725.
It has been said that the Spanish Crown did not foster education
in Latin America and that the ignorance of the Indians and
creoless" (children born in Venezuela of Spanish parents) mili-
tated in favor of the peninsular Spaniard. Yet, the University of
San Marcos de Lima, the oldest on the continent, and several other
universities in Latin America are true monuments to the sound
policy of a State which aided and promoted private education.
What was the level of education in Venezuela at the time, as
compared with that of the old world? It is difficult to make an
accurate estimate, but a few comments may provide some insight.
It is a well-known fact that the writings of Rousseau and the
Encyclopedists were studied and discussed in Caracas and other
cities of Venezuela, and this indicates that at least in some classes
a considerable degree of culture had been attained. A few years
ago, some manuscripts were unearthed in the basement of an old
building in Caracas which were found to contain music of the
highest order. The find came to be known in Venezuela as the
"Musical Wonder of the Colony." A group of musicians in Caracas
at the end of the eighteenth century had maintained close contact
with the old world and were clearly influenced by Haydn and other
Viennese masters. Don Andrds Bello, the Latin American human-
ist par excellence, was born in Caracas, and his works in prose or
verse, of philosophy or philology, are considered among the classics
of the Spanish language.
Despite these and other instances which could be adduced, the
fact that the over-all level of culture was low in the Colony is un-
deniable. It remained very low even long after Venezuela gained
her independence.

A considerable advance was made by the historic decree of 1870
which established compulsory, free education in State schools so
that all Venezuelan children would receive at least an elementary
education. This latter objective, unfortunately, has not been
reached even up to the present. The combined efforts of State and

private education have not eradicated illiteracy, and there remain
more than one million illiterates in Venezuela (this figure is not
official), and more than two hundred thousand children of school
age who still are unable to attend school. That decree implies the
recognition on the part of the State of its obligation to provide
education for its citizens. It has, however, been construed as some-
thing entirely different; namely, as the right-rather, the exclusive
right-of the State to educate its youth which, to a free and inde-
pendent mind, is unacceptable.
Yet continuous misinterpretation of the decree has resulted in an
all-absorbing control of the State in matters pertaining to education,
and in 1947 a decree was issued which virtually abolished private
education in the country. This decree was not implemented and,
beginning in 1949, private education in Venezuela entered into a
period of continuous numerical growth of considerable importance.
In 1953, an important milestone was passed with the opening of two
private universities in Caracas.
An idea of the numerical importance of private education in our
country may be had from the following figures, taken from Balance
y Perspectivas de la Educaci6n en Venezuela, published by the Bul-
letin of the Office of Integral Planning for Education of the Minis-
try of Education in March of 1962 (see Table on page 70).
These figures undoubtedly are still at a low level, and continu-
ous efforts are being made to increase the total of students, teachers,
and institutions. Nevertheless, under Venezuela's present economic
conditions, the numbers should not be considered discouraging.
Nonofficial education supports itself mainly through fees paid by
students. There are also free private schools, supported by chari-
table organizations, and by some of the schools that charge fees,
which devote a good share of their income to that purpose. In a
country like Venezuela today, where practically every family has
felt the sting of economic pressure, the fact that 14 per cent of
the school population is able to find its way into private schools
instead of going into the free and well-housed official schools speaks
well for the efforts of the private educator.
Governmental financial aid to private education has been neg-
ligible so far, but there is reason to hope that the current rate, on
the order of one-fourth of one per cent of the total public education
budget, will be pushed to a significant figure in the near future.
I would like to reiterate my stress on the word "numerical"
when I spoke of the growth of private education since 1949. A

70 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development

growth in numbers has taken place, but the essential weakness of
private education in Venezuela in 1962 is the same as in 1947 or
1870. The State exerts such control over private schools in Vene-
zuela that it is not an exaggeration to say that private education
is merely tolerated; it has received neither the legislative nor moral
support and freedom it deserves, nor the financial aid it requires.


Official Schools Private Schools Total

Number Per Cent Number Per Cent

A. Grammar Schools

B. High Schools

C. Technical Education

D. Normal Education

E. University Education

1,111,056 86.95
29,462 82.22
11,066 92.03











13.05 1,277,861
17.78 35,835
7.97 12,024



2,030 3.99 50,940
262 10.51 2,493
45 26.79 168

4,764 45.17
1,286 63.26
98 75.97

3,735 13.92
364 11.79
2 28.57



F. Pedagogic Institute:


2,415 100.00
244 100.00
2 100.00



85.51 218,768
78.05 10,781
89.49 1,335

14.49 1,509,682
27.95 49,115
10.51 12,703

This control has been exerted in the past and is being exerted
now in a way that appears adorned with the best of intentions;
namely, the apparent duty of the State to supervise private educa-
tion in order to protect the public against unqualified teachers and
inadequate schools. Let me take a few minutes to review the way
in which this control is effected and the extent to which it affects
private education. First, however, I must refer to a condition, an
attitude, that, in my view, is more dangerous than the fact of con-
trol itself, that is, that in Venezuela State control over private
education is accepted as a matter of course by virtually everyone
except the private universities, which enjoy absolute freedom
and parity with the government universities. In the last general
assembly of the Federation of Catholic Parent-Teachers Associations
(FAPREC), a plea was made for freedom of teaching, but the stress
was placed on the otherwise sound thesis that the State must pro-
vide the means for the children of poor parents to attend schools
which derive their chief economic support from the government.
With the exception of the private universities, no serious, adequate
attempt has been made to challenge or reduce the effect of this

Beginning with the fourth grade, at the end of each academic
year, students are required to take examinations before a board of
three examiners appointed by the Minister of Education. In recent
years, private schools have been permitted to name the teacher of
the grade as an ex-officio member of the board. His opinion may
be voiced, but that of the three board members is usually decisive.
It is not the teacher who decides on the student's grade, but the
In addition, the curriculum for each academic year is rigidly
established by official dictate, and except for a choice between
English and French as a foreign language, no opportunity is
afforded the private school to impart its own distinctive imprint to
its teaching.
The contents of individual subjects are established by the Minis-
try of Education. Official "programs" are prepared, and the teach-
ers must adhere to them. The programs list the authors to be read,
the paintings, sculpture, or architectural monuments to be ex-
amined, the thinkers to be studied, and so forth.

72 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
The number of hours to be dedicated each week to each course,
and the length of classroom or laboratory sessions are also compul-
sory for all schools in the country.
All these details are subject to supervision, and the Ministry
sends inspectors to all schools from time to time to check up on
the manner in which the programs are being adhered to, down to
the most minute detail.
The work load imposed on students, especially at the high school
level, is so heavy that it is virtually impossible to carry out ad-
vanced studies of certain topics, to say nothing of introducing en-
tirely new courses or specialized fields of study.
I repeat that these conditions are unchallenged in Venezuela.
It is true that the State has a grave responsibility to protect
children and parents from the possible abuses of private schools,
but this protection ought to be carried out by means different from
those employed in Venezuela, which leave practically no initiative
to the private teacher.
A few years ago, a noted philologist who is a professor at Caracas'
Central University wrote a newspaper article in which he pointed
out serious deficiencies he had encountered in high school grad-
uates. The majority of private educators agree that teaching pro-
grams and methods must be changed, but they also point out that
they cannot attempt to do it in their own courses lest their students
fail in the final examinations.
In point of fact, the State-imposed controls have resulted in a
generally low standard of learning in practically all subjects, an
overloading of programs with details which obscure the funda-
mental elements of knowledge, and, in no few instances, in the
teaching of falsehoods and the use of improper methods.
This is particularly true with respect to mathematics. The
official programs have adopted the cyclic system, with geometry
placed at the end of the course. As the programs are so over-
loaded with detail that they cannot be covered completely, the
students go through five years of high school with practically no
fundamental knowledge of geometry. Given this, I once asked a
professor of solid and descriptive geometry in one of our uni-
versities how he explained the fact that students who were success-
ful in his course failed in the parallel course of elements of calculus.
He said the answer was simple. His students had had practically
no geometry in high school, so they had to learn it afresh with
the university course. This is a difficult, but not impossible, task.

On the other hand, the students of analytical mathematics have
to go through the process of first unlearning their high school
algebra, then relearning it the right way and, finally, proceeding
with their university work. This, coupled with regular assignments,
is indeed an overwhelming task.
I also know a man who teaches physics in the fifth year of high
school and in the first year of engineering in a university. He is
forced to teach the subject the official way in high school and
then, in his university course, straighten out the misconceptions
he himself taught. This he does so that, in his high school course,
he will be able to squeeze in a few sound concepts which will pass
unnoticed under the eyes of the official examiners. All private edu-
cators in Venezuela agree that, if State controls were removed,
there would be a number of private schools which would get the
right teachers to teach the right subjects the right way. This can-
not be accomplished under present conditions, and no way has
been found to present the case for private education in this light.

But this is not the worst to be said against excessive State control
of private education. In my opinion, this detailed control implies
a disbelief in the effectiveness of education to prepare youth for
life and for the practice of citizenship. To educate is to provide
the means of arriving at a sound and independent analysis of life
in order to be able to formulate adequate solutions to the prob-
lems that life presents. To pretend that, in order to be educated,
a person must be conversant with details and more details which
serve only to dim the fundamental truths, is simply to confuse edu-
cation with information. The attention to detail so characteristic
of Venezuela State control over private education is, then, equiva-
lent to the confession that the State's educational aims are nothing
more than to inform its youth of certain things, and not to pre-
pare them for a fruitful and independent life. How can we ever
pretend that we are educating our youth for the exercise of freedom,
if the example before them is that of a teacher who himself is not
free in the practice of his profession?
It will be readily seen that no matter how concerned private
educators are about these problems, no matter how many well-
prepared teachers are willing to dedicate their lives to the most
noble of all human activities, all their efforts are doomed to fu-
tility under prevailing conditions.

74 The Caribbean: Venezuelan Development
The role of private educators in Venezuela has been reduced
to that of a deck hand under the command of the State. It would
be misleading to speak of collaboration; private education merely
helps in what the State is doing, good or bad. Superhuman efforts
have been made by private educators and their students to over-
come these odds, and occasionally an outstanding figure appears
in the fields of letters and fine arts. But there is no doubt that
our products in these fields have no comparison with those from
our oil fields.


In view of the above, the goal of private education in Venezuela
must be to achieve a position of independence vis-a-vis the State.
Only in this way may we speak of real collaboration. An inde-
pendent group of private schools could offer healthy competition to
State education. What immediate step is to be taken?
I propose: TO EDUCATE. To educate, but this time not the
students, but their teachers and public men; to show them what
wonders have been achieved in other nations where the law limits
the power of the State and does not constitute a mere list of obli-
gations of the citizens; to show them that the necessary protection
of youth against quack teachers and educational sharpers can be
attained without hindering the work of accredited institutions;
to demonstrate that even if the relaxation of controls might result
in a temporary proliferation of bad teaching, time will bring about
a stratification of values, and the better ones will come to the
surface; to cite the example of the private universities which have
refused to be subject to ministerial control or supervision and
which are proud of the high human values of their alumni.
I would further propose to educate the government and legis-
lators so that they too may realize what is obvious from the point
of view of private education: that to ensure authentic teaching
freedom, private schools should be encouraged and supported, not
guided or controlled; and to place before them the important
financial fact that support of private education represents an actual
economy to the State. And finally, I would propose to educate the
public, the voting citizens, who may not be aware that the innocent
sounding words "supervision," "protection," or "technical guid-
ance" may be used-as in the past-as an ideal sheep's skin in which
to wrap the wolf.

Once the private schools regain their freedom, they could offer
the State collaboration and a loyal competition in the common task
of preparing future generations of Venezuelan citizens to face life
equipped with intellectual integrity and moral principles. After
a century and a half, the words of Sim6n Bolivar ring truer than
ever: "Morality and culture are our primary needs."

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - Version 2.9.7 - mvs