Luis Herrera Campins : biography
Luis Antonio Herrera Campíns (4 May 1925 – 9 November 2007) was President of Venezuela from 1979 to 1984. He was elected to one five-year term in 1978. He was a member of the COPEI party.
Early Life and career
Luis Herrera at the age of 15 Luis Antonio Herrera Campíns was born in Acarigua, Portuguesa. He was 21 years old when the Social Christian Party Copei was created, being one of its founders in Acarigua, Portuguesa. At La Salle school of Barquisimeto, completed his high school degree in 1942. During that time, at the age of fifteen, started to work at politics and journalism, working for the newspapers El impulso, Surcos and the weekly magazine of the Student National Union. His law studies from the Central University of Venezuela were suspended in 1952 and he was imprisoned for four months in the Cárcel Modelo (Model Prison) by the dictatorship of Marcos Pérez Jiménez. Shortly after, he continued pursuing his college degree, graduating as lawyer in 1955, at the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela.
Luis Herrera started parliamentary work in 1947, then was elected deputy to the Legislative Assembly of Portuguesa. From 1959 to 1979, in four constitutional periods, was deputy or senator representing Lara and Portuguesa at the National Congress. On 12 March 1979, became the President of Venezuela after his election on 3 December 1978.
|Venezuelan Presidential election 1978|
Luis Herrera won the December 1978 presidential elections for COPEI, replacing the social democrat Carlos Andrés Pérez of the Democratic Action (AD) party, who had nationalised the oil industry at the height of the boom in 1975. Oil revenues continued to rise during the early years of Herrera’s presidency. Herrera had a dirigiste view of the Government’s economic role, which involved channelling public funds into agricultural and industrial projects, paying generous subsidies and controlling the prices of many goods. His Government continued President Pérez’s policy of borrowing on a world market awash with petrodollars, and by the early 1980s Venezuela owed the banks more than $20 billion. The Government’s tacit assumption was that oil prices would remain high forever, and would sustain high levels of public and private consumption.
Luis Herrera developed a program of cultural development and reformed the education program, implementing the common basic cycle of nine years. He also tried to make adjustments to the democratic system. In regard to economics, he began with the policy of liberalisation of prices and at the end of his mandate introduced a series of exchange measures with dramatic results. The Venezuelan bolívar had been pegged at 4.30 to the dollar, but ended up something more than 15 bolivars by unit (Black Friday, 28 February 1983) – this produced a misalignment in the national economy. This was apparently the result of a “computational error” at the Central bank of Venezuela, declaring “collapsed” the international reserves.
Moved in part by territorial claims, Herrera developed a muscular foreign policy. He signed an agreement with Mexico in 1980 to jointly provide Central American and Caribbean countries with a steady flow of oil, a precursor of Hugo Chávez’s wide-reaching oil diplomacy in the developing world. In 1982 Luis Herrera sided with Argentina in its war with Britain over the Falklands, adroitly exploiting anti-British and anti-American sentiment to boost his flagging popularity. His support for Argentina came while he was asserting Venezuela’s longstanding claim to more than half of neighboring Guyana, a former British colony. His government also recognized the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as the sovereign state in Western Sahara.