This timely article analyses the creation of a divided society in Venezuela. Since before the birth of the Republic in 1831, elite politicians and intellectuals have tried to foment the imposition of a society in their own (European, white, elite) image through the cultural promotion of privileged immigrants. Unlike other countries in the region, the mass European immigration only happened in the 1950s, during the government of Marcos Pérez Jiménez, a hundred years later than elsewhere. However, by lauding immigration and denigrating the local mixed race population, influenced by the example of Argentina a hundred years before and a continuation of nineteenth-century Positivism, they set the stage for the divisiveness which predates the election of President Hugo Chávez in 1998. This article traces this cultural construction through interviews with now-deceased politicians with responsibility for immigration programmes and analysis of the works of pro-immigration intellectuals.