As expressed in my previous post, I aim to learn more about Venezuela's history and political climate to better understand and try to predict its future direction.
After Cipriano Castro left for Europe to be treated for syphilis, General Juan Vicente Gomez (the vice president) was left in charge. Gomez had been instrumental in bringing (and maintaining) Cipriano Castro to power. When Gomez began to see the mess that the previous administration had left... he decided to let Castro know that there was no need to return.
Castro presided over Venezuela for close to 30 years (on and off) during a critical period in the country's history - oil was discovered in Lake Maracaibo in 1918 which prompted unprecedented economic growth. Gomez was definitely a great leader during this period, but was also enriching himself and his family by stealing from the country's coffers.
General Juan Vicente Gomez treated Venezuela as his personal "hacienda" (plantation) and this has created two opposite views of his regime. Some historians consider him Venezuela's greatest president.... and others write him off as a tyrant and one more in a long line of corrupt presidents. However, he was a great leader during Venezuela's historic growth in the early part of the 1900's.
In my previous post, I made some parallels between Venezuela's current president Chavez and Cipriano Castro. In the wikipedia entry about Juan Vicente Gomez, the parallel is made between Gomez and Chavez. Personally, I would prefer to make the parallel with Cipriano Castro since his time in power was much shorter and was replaced by someone considered a strong leader who lead the country to wealth and economic growth.
I expect that either Chavez or Venezuela's next president will have a very strict hand but will be able to help spur new economic growth. The one factor that will affect this is the level of technological growth they are able to promote. If Venezuela is able to catch up technologically to some of its neighbors, it may have opportunities for future growth... otherwise it will continue to fall apart.