With the passing of years Gonzalo Barrios has assumed an increasingly unique position in Venezuelan public affairs. One of the original founders of the movement that became today’s Acción Democrática, he has been in the forefront of the struggle for political democracy and human freedom for over three decades. Now his views of recent and contemporary developments, as expressed through a series of newspaper commentaries, have been reproduced under one cover.
More than 125 columns from El Nacional and La República of Caracas have been included, covering the period from May, 1958, to October, 1963. The diversity of subjects makes elaboration impractical. Among the subjects under discussion are, to mention but a few, the problem of leftist terrorism, government security measures, revision of the electoral code, operation of a bi-party coalition, policy toward recognition of non-constitutional regimes, the implementation of agrarian reform, and the role of a partisan democratic opposition.
In each of these areas, and in many others, Barrios is—as he concedes in the introduction—a partisan. Leader of his party’s congressional organization until the recent elections, he has now succeeded to the presidency of Acción Democrática. Yet his position within the national polity is in large degree a function of character and temperament. A man with long experience in international circles, Barrios combines inward serenity with a subtle and discriminating mind. His spirit of compromise and toleration of hostile views are uncommon among Venezuelan figures, accounting in part for the esteem in which he is held by political antagonists. Thus his comments, while representing an important partisan view, at the same time provide enlightenment on major contemporary political issues in Venezuela.