Rómulo Ángel del Monte Carmelo Gallegos Freire (2 August 1884 – 5 April 1969)[1][2][3] was a Venezuelan novelist and politician. For a period of nine months during 1948, he governed as the first freely elected president in Venezuela's history.[4] He was removed from power by military officers in the 1948 Venezuelan coup.[5]

Rómulo Gallegos
Gallegos c. 1947-48
President of Venezuela
In office
17 February 1948 – 24 November 1948
Preceded byRómulo Betancourt
Succeeded byCarlos Delgado Chalbaud
Senator for life
In office
23 January 1961 – 5 April 1969
Personal details
Rómulo Ángel del Monte Carmelo Gallegos Freire

(1884-08-02)2 August 1884
Caracas, Venezuela
Died5 April 1969(1969-04-05) (aged 84)
Caracas, Venezuela
Political partyAcción Democrática
SpouseTeotiste Arocha Egui (1888–1950)

Rómulo Gallegos is considered the most relevant Venezuelan novelist of the 20th century, and a prominent figure in Latin American literature.[6]

Early life and writings


Rómulo Gallegos was born in Caracas to Rómulo Gallegos Osío and Rita Freire Guruceaga, into a family of humble origin. He began his work as a schoolteacher, writer, classical music enthusiast, and journalist in 1903. His novel Doña Bárbara was first published in 1929, and it was because of the book's criticisms of the regime of longtime dictator Juan Vicente Gómez that he was forced to flee the country. He took refuge in Spain, where he continued to write: his acclaimed novels Cantaclaro (1934) and Canaima (1935) date from this period. He returned to Venezuela in 1936 and was appointed Minister of Public Education.

Political career


In 1937 he was elected to Congress and, in 1940–41, served as Mayor of Caracas. In 1945, Rómulo Gallegos was involved in the coup d'état that brought Rómulo Betancourt and the "Revolutionary Government Junta" to power, in the period known as El Trienio Adeco. In the 1947 general election he ran for the presidency of the republic as the Acción Democrática candidate and won in what is generally believed to be the country's first honest election.[citation needed] He took over 74 percent of the vote, still a record for a free election in Venezuela. He took office on 15 February, and was noted for raising the state's tax revenue for oil profits increase from 43% to 50%, a tax scheme known as "fifty / fifty" and which was subsequently replicated in several oil producing countries such as Saudi Arabia. President Gallegos initiated the implementation of an "open-door" policy, which sparked an influx of Italians, eventually becoming the largest European population group within Venezuela. Nevertheless, army officers Carlos Delgado Chalbaud, Marcos Pérez Jiménez and Luis Felipe Llovera Páez, threw him out of power November in the 1948 Venezuelan coup d'état. He took refuge first in Cuba and then in Mexico. Gallegos returned to his country after the fall of the dictatorship of Marcos Pérez Jiménez in 1958. While he was named a senator for life, he no longer took an active role in politics.

Gallegos was awarded the National Literature Prize (1958, for La doncella), and elected to the Venezuelan Academy of the Language (the correspondent agency in Venezuela of the Spanish Royal Academy).[7]

From 1960 to 1963, he was a Commissioner of the newly created Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (created by OAS in Washington on 18 August 1959), and he was also its first President (1960) a position he held until 1963.


Cabinet of Rómulo Gallegos[8]
Ministry Name Períod
Internal Relations Eligio Anzola Anzola February – November, 1948
External relationships Andrés Eloy Blanco
Treasury Manuel Pérez Guerrero
Defense Carlos Delgado Chalbaud
Development Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo
Public Works Edgar Pardo Stolk
Education Luis Beltrán Prieto Figueroa
Jobs Raúl Leoni
Communications Leonardo Ruiz Pineda
Agriculture & Livestock Ricardo Montilla
Health & Social Care Edmundo Fernández
Office Gonzalo Barrios



He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1960, largely due to the efforts of Miguel Otero Silva, and gained widespread support in Latin America,[9] but ultimately lost out to Saint-John Perse. The Rómulo Gallegos International Novel Prize was created in his honor on 6 August 1964 by a presidential decree, enacted by Venezuelan president Raúl Leoni. The declared purpose of the prize is to "perpetuate and honor the work of the eminent novelist and also to stimulate the creative activity of Spanish language writers." It is awarded by the government of Venezuela, through the offices of the Rómulo Gallegos Center for Latin American Studies (Celarg). The first prize was given in 1967. It was awarded every five years until 1987, when it became a biannual award. The award includes a cash prize of €100,000 making it among the richest literary prizes in the world.

Personal life and death


Gallegos was married to Teotiste Arocha Egui, who served as First Lady of Venezuela in 1948.[citation needed] Rómulo Gallegos Freire died in Caracas on 5 April 1969.

Gallegos and Teotiste

In 2016 his grave was desecrated by thieves, who stole the marble and his remains. His granddaughter took Twitter to express her frustration: "Here in Venezuela, not even the remains of an ex-president can be kept away from the hands of crime."

Published works

Venezuelan Presidential election 1947
Candidates Votes
Rómulo Gallegos 871,752
Rafael Caldera 262,204
Gustavo Machado 36,587
  • El último Solar (1920) (alternative title:Reinaldo Solar)
  • La trepadora (1925)
  • Doña Bárbara (1929)
  • Cantaclaro (1934)
  • Canaima (1935) (also published in English, 1988 ISBN 0-8061-2119-X)
  • Pobre negro (1937)
  • El forastero (1942)
  • Sobre la misma tierra (1943)
  • La rebelión (1946)
  • La brizna de paja en el viento (1952)
  • Una posición en la vida (1954)
  • El último patriota (1957)
  • El piano viejo

See also


Further reading

  • Gallegos: Doña Bárbara / Donald Leslie Shaw., 1972
  • Rómulo Gallegos: an Oklahoma encounter and the writing of the last novel / Lowell Dunham., 1974
  • Nine essays on Rómulo Gallegos / Hugo Rodríguez-Alcalá., 1979
  • Three Spanish American novelists a European view / Cyril A Jones., 1967
  • Sociopolitical aspects of the novels of Rómulo Gallegos / Earl Leon Cardon., 1962
  • The function of symbol in the novels of Rómulo Gallegos / Jeannine Elizabeth Hyde., 1964


  1. ^ Fundación Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos Rómulo Gallegos
  2. ^ Profile of Rómulo Gallegos
  3. ^ Geni.com
  4. ^ "68 años de las primeras elecciones libres en Venezuela – El Aragüeño". 16 October 2018. Archived from the original on 16 October 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  5. ^ Lott, Leo B. (1956). "Executive Power in Venezuela". American Political Science Review. 50 (2): 422–441. doi:10.2307/1951677. ISSN 0003-0554. JSTOR 1951677. S2CID 143931136.
  6. ^ "Hoy hace 136 años nació Rómulo Gallegos el novelista venezolano más relevante del siglo XX". El Carabobeño (in Spanish). 2 August 2020. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  7. ^ Real Academia Española / Academia Venezolana de la Lengua Archived 30 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Gaceta Oficial de Venezuela, período 1948.
  9. ^ Jeannine Hyde (1960), "Rómulo Gallegos and the Nobel Prize in 1960", Hispania, Vol. 43, No. 2 (May, 1960), pp. 241–242
  • DUNHAM, LOWELL. 1990: "Cartas familiares de Rómulo Gallegos". Cuadernos Lagoven. Lagoven, S.A. Caracas – Venezuela.
  • MORON, GUILLERMO. 1979: "Los presidentes de Venezuela 1811–1979". Meneven, S.A. Caracas – Venezuela.
  • ROMERO MARTÍNEZ, VINICIO. 1987: "Mis mejores amigos". Editorial Larense. Caracas – Venezuela.
  • SUBERO, EFRAÍN. 1984: "Aproximación sociologica a la obra de Rómulo Gallegos homenaje en el centenario de su nacimiento".Cuadernos Lagoven. Lagoven, S.A. Caracas – Venezuela.
Political offices
Preceded by President of Venezuela
Succeeded by