Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela profile - Timeline

A chronology of key events:

1498-99 - Christopher Columbus and Alonso de Ojeda visit Venezuela, which is inhabited by Carib, Arawak and Chibcha peoples.

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Image caption The coup leader of 1948, Marcos Perez Jimenez (r), was himself ousted 10 years on by Admiral Wolfgang Larrazabal (l) who restored civilian rule

1521 - Spanish colonisation begins on the north-east coast.

1749 - First rebellion against Spanish colonial rule.

1810 - Venezuelans take advantage of Napoleon's invasion of Spain to declare independence.

1829-30 - Venezuela secedes from Gran Colombia.

1870-88 - Ruler Antonio Guzman Blanco attracts foreign investment, modernises infrastructure and develops agriculture and education.

1908-35 - Dictator Juan Vicente Gomez governs at time when Venezuela becomes world's largest oil exporter.

1945 - Coup establishes civilian government after decades of military rule.

1948 - President Romulo Gallegos, Venezuela's first democratically-elected leader, overthrown within eight months in military coup led by Marcos Perez Jimenez.

Democratic rule

1958 - Admiral Wolfgang Larrazabal ousts Marcos Perez Jimenez; leftist Romulo Betancourt of the Democratic Action Party (AD) wins presidential election.

1973 - Venezuela benefits from oil boom and its currency peaks against the US dollar; oil and steel industries nationalised.

1989 - Carlos Andres Perez (AD) elected president amid economic depression, launches austerity programme with IMF loan. Riots, martial law and general strike follow, with hundreds killed in street violence.

1992 - Colonel Hugo Chavez and supporters make two coup attempts. Some 120 people killed in suppression of coups, Col Chavez jailed for two years before being pardoned.

1993-95 - President Perez impeached on corruption charges.

Rise of Chavez

1998 - Hugo Chavez elected president amid disenchantment with established parties, launches 'Bolivarian Revolution' that brings in new constitution, socialist and populist economic and social policies funded by high oil prices, and increasingly vocal anti-US foreign policy.

2001 - President Chavez uses enabling act to pass 49 laws aimed at redistributing land and wealth. Concern grows in business and some labour circles that he is trying to concentrate economic and political power in the state, along Cuban lines.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The capital Caracas sprawls along the foot of high mountains

Coup attempt

2002 April - Armed forces rebel over violent stand-off between government and Petroleos de Venezuela state oil monopoly managers and unions after appointment of new board. Chavez taken into military custody, but interim government of business federation leader Pedro Carmona collapses and Chavez returns to office.

2004 August - President Chavez wins referendum to serve out remaining two-and-a-half years of his term.

Land reform

2005 January - President Chavez signs decree on land reform to eliminate Venezuela's large estates and benefit rural poor. Ranchers say move is attack on private property.

2005 March - New media regulations provide stiff fines and prison terms for slandering public figures.

2005 December - Parties loyal to President Chavez dominate parliament after opposition parties boycott election.

2006 July - President Chavez signs a $3bn (£1.6bn) arms deal with Russia, including an agreement to buy fighter jets and helicopters, marking a re-orientation away from US arms supplies.

2006 December - Hugo Chavez wins a third term in presidential elections with 63% of the vote, the largest margin since the 1947 election.

Nationalisation drive

2007 January - President Chavez announces key energy and telecommunications companies will be nationalised under 18-month enabling act approved by parliament.

2007 May - Government's refuses to renew terrestrial broadcasting license of RCTV channel, which was critical of President Chavez, prompting mass protests for and against and strong international condemnation.

2007 June - Two leading US oil companies, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhilips, refuse to hand over majority control of their operations in the Orinoco Belt to the Venezuelan government, which then expropriates them.

2007 December - President Chavez suffers his first defeat at the ballot box, when a referendum narrowly rejects proposals to increase government control over the Central Bank and the power to expropriate property.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Poor district in Caracas - President Chavez has poured money into social programmes

2008 August - President Chavez announces plans to nationalise one of the country's largest private banks, the Spanish-owned Bank of Venezuela.

Ties with Russia

2008 September - Venezuela and Russia sign oil and gas cooperation accord. Russian warplanes visit Venezuela, with Russian warships heading there for November joint exercises - first return of Russian navy to Americas since Cold War.

2008 October - First Venezuelan telecommunications satellite launched from China.

2008 November - Opposition makes gains in regional elections and wins Caracas mayoral poll. President Chavez's allies retain control of 17 out of 22 governorships.

Russia and Venezuela sign accord on joint civilian nuclear cooperation.

2009 February - Voters in a referendum approve plans to abolish limits on the number of terms in office for elected officials. This allows President Chavez to stand again when his term expires in 2012.

Colombia tension

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Much of southern Venezuela is tropical wilderness

2009 November - Colombian government and US sign a long-trailed deal on the use of Colombia's military bases. President Chavez orders 15,000 troops to the Colombian border, citing increased violence by Colombian paramilitary groups.

2010 January - President Chavez devalues the bolivar, by 17% against the US dollar for "priority" imports and by 50% for items considered non-essential, to boost revenue from oil exports after economy shrank 5.8% in last quarter of 2009.

2010 September - Parliamentary elections. Opposition makes significant gains.

Economic problems

2010 December - Parliament grants President Chavez special powers to deal with devastating floods, prompting opposition fears of greater authoritarianism.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Endangered species: the Orinoco Crocodile

2012 April - Government extends price controls on more basic goods in the battle against inflation. President Chavez threatens to expropriate companies that do not comply with the price controls.

2012 July - Opposition TV channel Globovision pays a $2.1m fine to avoid having its assets seized. The media regulator imposed the fine in October over Globovision coverage of prison riot.

After a six-year wait, Venezuela becomes a full member of regional trading bloc Mercosur, and is given four years to comply with the bloc's trading regulations.

2012 October - President Chavez wins a fourth term in office, with 54% of the vote on an official turnout at about 81%. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles concedes.

President Chavez dies

2013 April - President Hugo Chavez dies at age 58 in March after a battle with cancer. Nicolas Maduro, his chosen successor, is elected president by a narrow margin. The opposition contests the result.

2013 September - A massive power cut leaves 70% of Venezuela, including parts of Caracas, without electricity. President Maduro blames "right-wing saboteurs".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Chavez supporters thronged the streets of Caracas during the funeral cortege of the late president in March 2013

2013 November - With inflation running at more than 50% a year, the National Assembly gives President Maduro emergency powers for a year, prompting protests by opposition supporters. Mr Maduro uses the powers to limit profit margins.

2013 December - The ruling Socialist Party and allies win local elections by a margin of 10% in a poll widely seen as a test of the government's handling of the continuing economic crisis.

Opposition arrests

2014 February-March - Protests over poor security in the western states of Tachira and Merida spread to Caracas, where they win the backing of opposition parties and turn into anti-government rallies. The government accuses the opposition of seeking to launch a coup and breaks up the protests. At least 28 people die in the violence.

2014 November - Government announces cuts in public spending as oil prices reach a four-year low.

2014 December - Venezuela's chief prosecutor formally charges leading opposition figure Maria Corina Machado with conspiracy to assassinate President Maduro.

2015 February - Antonio Ledezma, opposition mayor of Caracas, charged with plotting coup with US support. He denies this, accusing government of stifling criticism.

2015 December - Opposition Democratic Unity coalition wins two-thirds majority in parliamentary elections, ending 16 years of Socialist Party control.

2016 January - Three Democratic Unity deputies resign from the National Assembly parliament under Supreme Court pressure, depriving coalition of clear two-thirds majority that would have allowed it to block legislation proposed by President Maduro.

Economic crisis, mass protests

2016 February - President Maduro announces measures aimed at fighting economic crisis, including currency devaluation and first petrol price rise in 20 years.

2016 September - Hundreds of thousands of people take part in a protest in Caracas calling for the removal of President Maduro, accusing him of responsibility for the economic crisis.

2017 April-June - Several people die in clashes with security forces during mass protests demanding early presidential elections and the revoking of a planned constituent assembly to replace the National Assembly.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Some Venezuelans' dissatisfaction with the Maduro government spilled over into protests in 2014

2017 July - The opposition holds an unofficial referendum in which a reported seven million people reject President Maduro's proposal to convene a new constituent assembly.

The election of the controversial constituent assembly takes place in the face of an opposition boycott and international condemnation.

2017 August - Chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega goes into exile, saying she was sacked because the government wanted to stop her investigations into alleged corruption and human rights abuses.

2018 May - President Maduro wins another term in an election.

2018 August - Venezuelan officials say two explosive-laden drones were detonated near to President Maduro during a live, televised speech. Mr Maduro accuses Colombia and elements within the US of a "right-wing plot" to kill him, but provides no evidence for the claim.

2018 August - Venezuela slashes five zeros from its old currency, renaming it the Sovereign Bolivar and tying it to a state-backed cryptocurrency in a bid to tackle rampant hyperinflation.

The UN warns of a migration "crisis", estimating that economic woes and food and medical shortages have caused more than two million Venezuelans to leave their country since 2014. Most are settling in nearby Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil, leading to tensions in the region.