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Former Venezuela President Rafael Antonio Caldera dies at age 93

December 24, 2009 | 11:59 am

Former Venezuela President Rafael Antonio Caldera, who helped establish democratic elections in the country and whose two terms as its leader were separated by 20 years, died early today at age 93, his son and state media said.

Caldera served as president from 1969 to 1974 and 1994 to 1999. A native of Yaracuy state, he received a political science degree at Central University of Venezuela and founded the Social Christian COPEI party in the 1940s. Caldera helped organize democratic elections after the fall of dictator Gen. Marcos Perez Jimenez in 1958.

Caldera in 1994 pardoned and ordered the release of Hugo Chavez, who had spent two years in prison for leading a military coup attempt in 1992 against the government of President Carlos Andres Perez. Chavez, the country’s current leader, was elected president in 1998.

A cause of death was not announced for Caldera, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, according to news reports.

-- Efrain Hernandez Jr.

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