Bolivarianism is a set of political doctrines that enjoys currency in parts of South America, especially Venezuela. Bolivarianism is named for Simón Bolívar, the 19th century Venezuelan general and liberator who led the struggle for independence throughout much of South America. The most prominent exponent and architect of modern Bolivarianism is currently Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez.


Politics of Venezuela
VenezolanosIn recent years, its most significant political manifestation is in the government of Venezuela's president Hugo Chávez, who since the beginning of his presidency has called himself a Bolivarian patriot and applied his interpretation of several of Bolívar's ideals to everyday affairs, as part of the Bolivarian Revolution. That included the 1999 Constitution, which changed Venezuela's name to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and other ideas such as the Bolivarian Schools, Bolivarian Circles, and the "Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela". Often, the term "Bolivarianism" is used specifically to refer to Chávez's rule. The central points of Bolivarianism, as extolled by ChávezFact|date=February 2007, are:

*Venezuelan economic and political sovereignty (anti-imperialism).
*Grassroots political participation of the population via popular votes and referendums (participatory democracy).
*Economic self-sufficiency (in food, consumer durables, "etc"...).
*Instilling in people a national ethic of patriotic service.
*Equitable distribution of Venezuela's vast oil revenues.
*Eliminating corruption.

Chávez's version of Bolivarianism, although drawing heavily from Simón Bolívar's ideals, was also influenced by the writings of Marxist historian Federico Brito Figueroa. Chávez was also thoroughly steeped in the South American tradition of socialism and communism early in his life, such as that practiced by Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Salvador Allende. Other key influences on Chávez's political philosophy include Ezequiel Zamora and Simón Rodríguez. Although Chávez himself refers to his ideology as "Bolivarianismo" ("Bolivarianism"), Chávez's supporters and opponents in Venezuela refer to themselves as being either for or against "chavismo"Fact|date=February 2007. Chávez supporters refer to themselves as "chavistas"."Fact|date=February 2007

Later in his life, Chávez would acknowledge the role that democratic socialism (a form of socialism that emphasizes grassroots democratic participation) plays in Bolivarianism. For example, on January 30, 2005 at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Chávez declared his support for democratic socialism as integral to Bolivarianism, proclaiming that humanity must embrace "a new type of socialism, a humanist one, which puts humans, and not machines or the state, ahead of everything." [Sojo, Cleto A. ("Venezuela Analysis", 31 Jan 2005). [ "Venezuela’s Chávez Closes World Social Forum with Call to Transcend Capitalism"] . Retrieved 20 Oct 2005.] He later reiterated this sentiment in a February 26 speech at the 4th Summit on Social Debt held in Caracas.

Other definitions and dispute

Historically, there has been no universally accepted definition as to the proper use of the terms "Bolivarianism" and "Bolivarian" within all the countries in the region. Many different leaders, movements and parties have indistinctly used them to describe themselves throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries.


People who have called themselves "bolivarianos" claim to follow the general ideology expressed in Bolívar's texts such as the "Carta de Jamaica" and the "Discurso de Angostura". Some of Bolívar's ideas include forming a union of Latin American countries, providing public education, and enforcing sovereignty to fight against foreign invasion, which has been interpreted to include economic domination by foreign powers. An example of such a union was Gran Colombia, a block of countries consisting of Venezuela, Colombia, Panamá (part of New Granada in that time) and Ecuador.

The Colombian insurgent group FARC has, in recent years, also considered itself to be inspired by Bolívar's ideals and by his role in the 19th century independence struggle against Spain. It has also publicly declared its sympathy towards Hugo Chávez and his Bolivarian Revolution, both of which do not actively confirm or deny any involvement with the insurgent group. It is known that some individual Venezuelan "bolivarianos" do actively sympathize with the FARC in return, but it is not an automatic occurrence.Fact|date=February 2007

A Venezuelan guerrilla organization, the Bolivarian Forces of Liberation, also espouses Bolivarianism, although it is not known if there are any ties to the Venezuelan government.

It is also worthy of notice that, while many "Bolivarianists" often include Brazil in their plans for unification and integration of South America, this is mostly unknown among Brazilians or widely regarded as a foreign movement, particularly due to the language difference and the fact that not all Brazilians see Brazil as a Latin American country.


Bolivarianism is also referred to (sometimes pejoratively by its opponents) [] as "chavismo" or "Chavezism". [Morsbach, Greg. [ Chavez opponents face tough times.] "BBC News" (6 December 2005).] Adherents are referred to as "chavistas".

Several political parties in Venezuela support "chavismo". The main party, directly affiliated with Chávez, is the Fifth Republic Movement (Spanish: "Movimiento Quinta Republica", usually referred to by the three letters, MVR). Other parties and movements supporting "chavismo" include Fatherland for All (Spanish: "Patria Para Todos" or PPT), and "Tupamaros".

The left-wing Movement for Socialism (Spanish: "Movimiento al Socialismo" or MAS ), Radical Cause (Spanish: "Causa R") and For Social Democracy (Spanish: "Por la Democracia Social") initially supported "chavismo", but they have since distanced themselves from it, and now oppose it. For Social Democracy is the latest party to oppose this movement.

A 2002 article in "The Boston Globe" said "chavismo" "fueled the eruption of public fury that swept the charismatic and confrontational president back into power after a group of military officers deposed him for two days in April in favor of a businessman-president," adding that the "Chavismo phenomenon has almost religious qualities." [Ceaser, Mike. Chavez followers stay loyal despite Venezuela Crisis. "Boston Globe" (17 December 2002). pg. A.33]

Writing in "The Weekly Standard", Thor Halvorssen says that "At [Chavismo's] core is a far-reaching foreign policy that aims to establish a loosely aligned federation of revolutionary republics as a resistance bloc in the Americas. The Chavista worldview sees the globe as a place where the United States, Europe, and Israel must be opposed by militarized one-man regimes."Halvorssen, Thor. [ Hurricane Hugo.] "The Weekly Standard", August 8, 2005, Volume 010, Issue 44. Also available at [ LookSmart.] ] Verify source|date=December 2007

According to an article in the "New York Sun", "Chavezism" was rejected in recent elections in Peru, Colombia and Mexico, [Barone, Michael. [ Good News.] "The New York Sun" (31 July 2006).] and "El Universal" reports that Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva distanced himself from "Chavezism", saying that Brazil is not Venezuela, and has traditional institutions. [ [ Lula says he is not like Chávez.] "El Universal" (22 August 2006).]

On early May 2008, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that " "President Chavez does not speak for Latin America. Every country has its own voice with which it pursues its own interests." "prior to embarking on a one-week Latin America trip that took her to Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and lastly Peru, where the European Union-Latin America summit took place the week starting May 18, [ [ ] Chavez links Merkel with Hitler (BBC News, 13 May 2008) ] a statement which brought an immediate aggressive response from Venezuela's president, and some minor attached consequences.


External links

* [ Karl Marx's article about Bolivar in the New American Encyclopedia 1858]
* [ Hugo Chávez and Bolivarian Nationalism]
* [ The Enduring Spell of Bolívar]
* [ Chavez's Ace - Venezuelan Leader Taps Bolivar Myths, Cults]
* [ (Mis)understanding Chavez and Venezuela in Times of Revolution]
* [ If the Real Simón Bolívar Met Hugo Chávez, He'd See Red]

ee also

List of political parties in Venezuela

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