Rafael Antonio Caldera Rodríguez (24 January 1916 – 24 December 2009) was president of Venezuela from 1969 to 1974 and again from 1994 to 1999.
Caldera taught sociology and law at various universities before entering politics. He was a founding member of COPEI, Venezuela's Christian Democratic party. He first ran for president unsuccessfully in 1947 and tried again every time it was possible until finally succeeding in 1968, winning by a relatively scant 33,000 votes against a recently divided Acción Democrática party. When he was sworn into office in 1969, it marked the first peaceful transfer of power from one party to another in Venezuela's history. During his first presidency, Caldera was able to pacify the country by granting an amnesty that allowed guerrilla fighters, who had been operating clandestinely for almost a decade, to reincorporate to society and participate in politics.
In 1993, Caldera split from COPEI, the party he had founded, to form a new political party, Convergence, which, supported by a coalition of many small leftist parties (MAS, MEP, PCV) as well as some centre-right parties (URD, MIN), raised Caldera to the presidency in December 1993. This was a fatal blow to the traditional parties which, leaderless and demoralized, garnered few votes in the election. He won a very narrow victory in that year's presidential election. During his second presidential period, he pardoned Hugo Chávez, who would eventually succeed him in 1999.