CARACAS, Wednesday April 01, 2009 | Update
Juan Vicente Gómez had the Constitution reformed at least five times in order to stay in power for life. He always used questionable legal instruments as an excuse to remain in command. The opposition was virtually nil in a country that had not left the rural life behind. From Caracas or Maracay, the general ruled whimsically, while holding the presidency and while not. The country was his ranch, and he did whatever he wanted during 27 years
Gómez would not leave power from 1908 until his death in December 1935 (Photo: Andrés Mata Foundation)
Juan Vicente Gómez had held office for seven years,
but he intended to remain for longer. In 1913, he reformed
the Constitution to make his wish come true. However, his
decision resulted in the first crisis inside his government.
In order to settle the argument, Gómez withheld the election under the pretext of an incursion of Cipriano Castro's troops into the coast of western Falcón state. Such situation made Gómez to run a campaign and José Gil Fortoul took office. At that moment, the true process which characterized the Gomez's era began. Finally, on April 14th, 1914, Gómez was appointed provisional president of the Republic and army commander-in-chief.
On May 3rd, 1915, the National Congress elected General Juan Vicente Gómez as constitutional president for 1915-1921. Gómez stayed most of the time in Maracay, the capital city of central Aragua state. Victorino Márquez Bustillos acted as Prime Minister in Caracas for seven years, but he regularly submitted a weekly report to the president-elect based in Maracay.
On June 1922, the Congress endorsed the third constitutional reform under Gómez's administration, aimed at reestablishing the Vice-Presidencies removed from the 1914 Constitution. Then, General Juan Vicente Gómez was elected president of the Republic for 1922-1929; his brother Juan Crisóstomo Gómez as first vice-president, and his son, General José Vicente Gómez, as second vice-president.
In 1925, yet another reform was made to the Constitution, whereby the Minister Council was created; for the first time a head of state was authorized to live outside the capital city; the president was granted the power to appoint state presidents, and the federal layout was removed.
On May 22nd, 1928, a fifth constitutional reform was enacted in order to remove the position of Venezuela's Vice-President. In 1929, a sixth reform separated the incumbencies of head of state and army chief. Again, in 1931, the Constitution was changed to merge both powers into one single position, and Juan Vicente Gómez was appointed president of the Republic one more time.
While in Venezuela steps were taken to extend forever Gómez's office, the Armenian genocide had been ongoing. It started on April 1915, following the detention in Constantinople of 250 Armenians, including intellectuals and community leaders. The development was characterized by merciless bloodshed and deportations to nowadays' Syria. Armenians were forced to cross hundred kilometers of dessert without water or food.
Also, in 1915, the world started to take aspirin tablets.
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