January 21, 1958 – the news of the hour was the situation in Caracas, Venezuela. A general strike was paralyzing the country which was under the military dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez. At news time, reports were sketchy and heavily censored when given. But the best estimate at the time was some 20 persons killed, over 100 injured and over 1,000 arrested during rioting between strikers and the government. The strike and subsequent riots were in protest to the Perez Jimenez regime.
Perez Jimenez had been successful in putting down a military revolt on New Years Day of 1958, he had since had some 20% of the Officer corps arrested. Now he is facing the wrath of the civilian population. Schools were empty, many businesses were closes. Buses and other vehicles had been overturned and set on fire. Newspapers were not publishing and broadcasting facilities were threatened. Troops were patrolling the streets of Caracas with shoot-to-kill-on-sight orders for any person caught roaming the streets.
And there was other news. In another part of the world there was also strife and confusion. On the island of Cyprus, outbreaks of violence were reported with gunfire and attacks breaking out, ending a truce that had lasted for some ten months.
The Cypriots opposed British rule, and the Greek Cypriots were in conflict with Turkish Cypriots. Over the course of the day, several attacks were reported, primarily murders of Greek Cypriots at the hands of Turkish Cypriots.
And in the Middle East – claims were made that Russia was busy sowing seeds of discontent among the Baghdad Pact nations. The Soviet Foreign Office was charging the U.S. of setting up missile bases in Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Pakistan. The Russians proposed a de-nuclearized zone in the middle East. The Disarmament issue was on everyone’s minds, with UN Secretary Dag Hammarsjkold calling for talks on the issue and a possible summit to be held sooner, rather than later.
And that’s just a sample of what was going on, this rather violent day, January 21, 1958 as reported by NBC News On The Hour.