Former Venezuelan president Velazquez dead at 97

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Former Venezuelan president Ramon Jose Velasquez, known for his role in opposing dictatorship in the South American country, has died. He was 97.

Velasquez assumed the presidency for eight months from 1993 to 1994 after his predecessor was impeached for embezzlement.

He was the last living former president of Venezuela. Opposition politician Henry Ramos Allup announced his death on Tuesday.

Velasquez was born in 1916 in western Venezuela. Before becoming president, he worked as a lawyer, journalist and historian. He was jailed repeatedly in the 1950s under the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez. One of his arrests was for his contributions to a book detailing the administration's misdeeds.

Velasquez served as the director of the newspaper El Nacional, one of the country's largest and most prestigious dailies. On Tuesday, the current editor of the El Nacional, Miguel Otero, called Velasquez "a great thinker and politician of the 20th century."

Velasquez became a politician after the country transitioned to democracy. He spent time in Congress and served in various presidential administrations before being appointed president at 76 years old.

He had four children.

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