In 1498, Christopher Columbus claimed Venezuela to be Spanish territory. The various regions were left to develop separately from the capital Caracas and Spanish rule was from the outside. In the 18th century, there was widespread resistance led by Simon Bolivar. The attempt at unification made him a national hero in Venezuela history. His dream was to create Gran Colombia that consists of Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia. However, due to infighting, Ecuador and Colombia collapsed and Venezuela became a sovereign state led by Jose Paez.
Venezuela’s borders were not marked and periodic disputes began. In 1918, there was the exploitation of the country's oilfields just as the cocoa and coffee wealth were largely exported. The failing economy and widespread political corruption existed and the country was run by despotic military leaders.
In the 1980s, social unrest made the government unstable and in 1992, the army units launched a military coup. They won the 1998 elections and in 2000, further strengthened their power by de facto means of constitutional changes. Land reforms sparked a strong opposition during the Chavez era. After he died in 2013, his successor Nicolas Maduros term began. It was also a time of protests and political suppression. The country’s economic, social and political scenario suffered. Medical and food shortages prevailed and violent crime was common.