From Martz, John D., Accion Democratica – Evolution of a Modern Political
Party in Venezuela (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1966): pp. 93-94.
"In 1957 Pérez Jiménez suffered a serious blow from the pastoral
letter of Venezuelan Archbishop Rafael Arias Blanco of Caracas. The
silence of the Church during preceding years was broken in a sharp
attack on the misuse of the nation's funds. Arias charged that social
problems were multiplying rapidly, seemingly without concern in
official circles; living conditions for the majority of Venezuelans
were increasingly wretched. He also deplored the condition of the
labor movement. Furthermore, in the Archbishop's words, '…an immense
mass of our people is living in conditions that cannot be regarded as
human. Unemployment leads many Venezuelans to despair…the excessively
low salaries on which a large number of our workers must survive is
inexcusable…and the situation is worsening.'
"National elections were due by the close of 1957, and the regime set
about the task of somehow legitimatizing its continuance in power. In
July it was announced that a vote would be held in December, but no
details were furnished. Not until November was the matter elaborated.
In what proved to be a final miscalculation by the government, its
Consejo Electoral announced a vote to be held December 15, 1957.
Instead of an ordinary election, however, a plebiscite was to be held,
giving the voter the opportunity to indicate whether or not he wanted
the President to remain in office.
"The voter, it was explained, would receive a blue and a red card,
the former representing an affirmative vote and the latter a negative
one. A provision for blind voters permitted the use of a round card
for a pro-government vote and a square one for a negative response. A
curious item – reflecting the flood of immigrants – was the granting
of a vote to all foreigners of at least 18 years' age who had been in
Venezuela two years or more. Under this arrangement, some 2,700,000
votes were reportedly on December 15, with 85 percent approving the
dictator's continuation in office. In fact, however, this proved one
of the final errors in judgment that helped to precipitate the