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Bolivarian Revolution

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Title: Bolivarian Revolution  
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Subject: Bolivarian missions, Politics of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, Bolivarianism, Mission Ribas
Collection: 20Th-Century Revolutions, Activism, Hugo Chávez, Politics of Venezuela, Socialism, Socialism in Venezuela
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Bolivarian Revolution

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The "Bolivarian Revolution" refers to a leftist social movement and political process in Venezuela led by late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, the founder of the Fifth Republic Movement and later the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. The "Bolivarian Revolution" is named after Simón Bolívar, an early 19th-century Venezuelan and Latin American revolutionary leader, prominent in the Spanish American wars of independence in achieving the independence of most of northern South America from Spanish rule. According to Chávez and other supporters, the "Bolivarian Revolution" seeks to build a mass movement to implement Bolivarianismpopular democracy, economic independence, equitable distribution of revenues, and an end to political corruption—in Venezuela. They interpret Bolívar's ideas from a socialist perspective.

On his 57th birthday, while announcing that he was being treated for cancer, Chavez announced that he had changed the slogan of the Bolivarian Revolution from "Motherland, socialism, or death" to "Socialist motherland and victory, we will live, and we will come out victorious."[1]


  • Background: Bolivarianism 1
  • Policies 2
  • Social programs 3
    • Plan Bolívar 2000 3.1
    • Mission Barrio Adentro 3.2
    • Mission Habitat 3.3
    • Mission Mercal 3.4
    • Mission Robinson 3.5
  • "Bolivarian diaspora" 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Background: Bolivarianism

Simón Bolívar has cast a long shadow over Venezuela's history.

Chavez as a military cadet was "a celebrant of the Bolivarian passion story".[2] Chávez relied upon the ideas of Bolívar, and on Bolívar as a popular symbol, later in his military career as he put together his MBR-200 movement which would become a vehicle for his 1992 coup-attempt.


Chavismo policies include nationalization, social welfare programs (Bolivarian Missions), and opposition to neoliberalism (particularly the policies of the IMF and the World Bank). According to Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan socialism accepts private property,[3] but this socialism seeks to promote social property too.[4] Chavismo also support participatory democracy[5] and workplace democracy.[6] In January 2007, Chávez proposed to build the communal state, whose main idea is to build self-government institutions like communal councils, communes, and communal cities.[7]

Social programs

Missions of the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela
food — housing — medicine
Barrio Adentro  · Plan Bolívar 2000
Hábitat  · Mercal
Ribas  · Sucre
Robinson I  · Robinson II
indigenous rights — land — environment
Guaicaipuro  · Identidad
Miranda  · Piar
Vuelta al Campo  · Vuelvan Caras
Hugo Chávez · Nicolás Maduro

The social programs that came into being during the term of Hugo Chávez sought to reduce social disparities and were funded in large part by oil revenues. The sustainability and design of the welfare programs have been both praised and criticized. Specific examples of social programs are listed below.[8]

Plan Bolívar 2000

Plan Bolívar 2000 was the first of the Bolivarian Missions enacted under of administration of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. According to the [9] The plan involved around 40,000 Venezuelan soldiers engaged in door-to-door anti-poverty activities, including mass vaccinations, food distribution in slum areas, and education.[10] Several scandals affected the program as allegations of corruption were formulated against Generals involved in the plan, arguing that significant amounts of money had been diverted.[11]

Mission Barrio Adentro

The mission was to provide comprehensive UNICEF both praised the program.[12][13] Though positive outcomes have come from the mission, there have been some struggles as well. In July 2007, Douglas León Natera, chairman of The Venezuelan Medical Federation, reported that up to 70% of the modules of Barrio Adentro were either abandoned or were left unfinished. In 2014, residents in Caracas also complained of the service despite large funding from the Venezuelan government.[14][15][16]

Mission Habitat

Mission Habitat's goal is the construction of thousands of new housing units for the poor. The program also seeks to develop agreeable and integrated housing zones that make available a full range of social services — from education to healthcare — which likens its vision to that of New Urbanism. According to Venezuela's El Universal, one of the Chávez administration's outstanding weaknesses is the failure to meet its goals of construction of housing. Chávez promised to build 150,000 houses in 2006, but in the first half of the year, completed only 24 percent of that target, with 35,000 houses.[17]

Mission Mercal

Shoppers waiting in line at a Mercal store.
Mission Robinson of the Hugo Chavez government in Venezuela promoting the education of the Wayuu

The Mission involves a state-run company called Mercados de Alimentos, C.A. (MERCAL), which provides subsidised food and basic goods through a nationwide chain of stores. In 2010 Mercal was reported as having 16,600 outlets, "ranging from street-corner shops to huge warehouse stores," in addition to 6000 soup kitchens. Mercal employs 85,000 workers.[18] In 2006 some 11.36 million Venezuelans benefited from Mercal food programs on a regular basis. At least 14,208 Mission Mercal food distribution sites were spread throughout Venezuela, and 4,543 metric tons of food distributed each day.[19] In recent times, customers who had to wait in long lines for discounted products say that there were a lack of products in Mercal stores and that items available at the stores change constantly.[20] Some customers complained about rationing being enforced at Mercal stores due to the lack of products.[21] In some cases, protests have occurred due to the shortages in stores.[22]

Mission Robinson

The program uses volunteers to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic to the more than 1.5 million Venezuelan adults who were illiterate prior to Chávez's election to the presidency in 1999. The program is military-civilian in nature, and sends soldiers to, among other places, remote and dangerous locales in order to reach the most undereducated, neglected, and marginalized adult citizens to give them regular schooling and lessons. On 28 October 2005, Venezuela declared itself a "Territory Free of Illiteracy", having raised, in its initial estimates, the literacy rate to around 99%, although the statistic was changed to 96%.[23] According to UNESCO standards, a country can be declared "illiteracy-free" if 96% of its population over age 15 can read and write.[24]

According to Francisco Rodríguez and Daniel Ortega of IESA, there has been "little evidence" of "statistically distinguishable effect on Venezuelan illiteracy".[23] The Venezuelan government claimed that it had taught 1.5 million Venezuelans to read,[25] but the study found that "only 1.1m were illiterate to begin with" and that the illiteracy reduction of less than 100,000 can be attributed to adults that were elderly and died.[23] David Rosnick and Mark Weisbrot of the CEPR responded to these doubts, finding that the data used by Rodríguez and Ortega was too crude a measure, since the Household Survey from which it derived was never designed to measure literacy or reading skills, and their methods were inappropriate to provide statistical evidence regarding the size of Venezuela's national literacy program.[26] Rodríguez responded to Weisbrot's rebuttal by showing that Weisbrot used biased, distorted data and that the illiteracy argument Weisbrot used showed the exact opposite of what Weisbrot was attempting to convey.[27]

"Bolivarian diaspora"

Following the Bolivarian Revolution, many Venezuelans have sought residence in other countries. According to Newsweek, the "Bolivarian diaspora is a reversal of fortune on a massive scale" where the reversal is a comparison to when in the 20th century, "Venezuela was a haven for immigrants fleeing Old World repression and intolerance".[28] El Universal explains how the "Bolivarian diaspora" in Venezuela has been caused by the "deterioration of both the economy and the social fabric, rampant crime, uncertainty and lack of hope for a change in leadership in the near future".[29]

In 1998, the year Chavez was first elected, only 14 Venezuelans were granted U.S. asylum. In just 12 months in September 1999, 1,086 Venezuelans were granted asylum according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.[30] It has been calculated that from 1998 to 2013, over 1.5 million Venezuelans, between 4% and 6% of the Venezuela's total population, left the country following the Bolivarian Revolution.[31] Many of former Venezuelan citizens studied gave reasons for leaving Venezuela that included lacking of freedom, high levels of insecurity and lacking opportunity in the country.[31][32] It has also been stated that some parents in Venezuela encourage their children to leave the country in protection of their children due to the insecurities Venezuelans face.[32][33] This has led to human capital flight occurring in Venezuela.[29][31]

See also


  1. ^ Aponte-Moreno, Marco; Lance Lattig. "Chavez: Rhetoric Made in Havana". World Policy Journal (Spring 2012). Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Enrique Krauze, "The Shah of Venezuela", The New Republic, 1 April 2009
  3. ^ Sivaramakrishnan, Arvind (6 March 2013). "Hugo Chávez: Death of a socialist". The Hindu. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Salmerón, Víctor (13 June 2012). "Plan Chávez prevé crear 30 mil empresas de propiedad social". El Universal (in Spanish). Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "La democracia participativa es un concepto chavista". Correo del Orinoco (in Spanish). 16 November 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  6. ^ Albrecht, Hermann (29 May 2009). "Chavez Calls on Workers to Push for Workplace Democracy in Venezuela". Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Azzellini, Dario. "The Communal State: Communal Councils, Communes, and Workplace Democracy". North American Congress on Latin America. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Justo, Marcelo (27 January 2009). "Entre los números y la realidad" (in Español).  
  10. ^ Wilpert, Gregory. "Venezuela's Mission to Fight Poverty". Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  11. ^ Opinión y análisis - ¿Sabe el Ejército de Corrupción?
  12. ^ (World Health Organization 2005).
  13. ^ (UNICEF 2005).
  14. ^ Matheus, Ricardo. Abandonados 70% de módulos de BA Diario 2001 (29 July 2007).
  15. ^ Pan American Health Organization, "Mission Barrio Adentro: The right to health and social inclusion in Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela. July 2006
  16. ^ "Cabildo Metropolitano evaluará funcionamiento de Barrio Adentro". El Universal. 6 May 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  17. ^ Chávez' Government has built 24 percent of scheduled houses. El Universal (July 31, 2006).
  18. ^ Business Week, March 11, 2010, A Food Fight for Hugo Chavez
  19. ^ "Datanálisis: Mercal es el lugar preferido para comprar alimentos" (in Español).  
  20. ^ "En Mercal hay mucha cola para pocos productos". El TIempo. 1 May 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  21. ^ "Usuarios molestos por venta racionada de alimentos en Pdval y Mercal". El Carabobeno. 26 February 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  22. ^ "#27M Protestan frente a Mercal de Patarata (Fotos)". El Impulso. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  23. ^ a b c "Propaganda, not policy". The Economist. 28 February 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  24. ^ "Bolivia declares literacy success". BBC News. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  25. ^ Márquez, Humberto (28 October 2005). "Venezuela se declara libre de analfabetismo" (in Español).  
  26. ^ Rosnick, David; Weisbrot, Mark (May 2008). "“Illiteracy” Revisited: What Ortega and Rodríguez Read in the Household Survey" (PDF). Center. Center for Economic and Policy Research. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  27. ^ Rodriguez, Francisco. "How Not to Defend the Revolution: Mark Weisbrot and the Misinterpretation of Venezuelan Evidence" (PDF).  
  28. ^ "Hugo Chavez is Scaring Away Talent". Newsweek. 30 June 2009. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  29. ^ a b Olivares, Francisco (13 September 2014). "Best and brightest for export". El Universal. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  30. ^ Brown, Tom (16 July 2007). "Venezuelans, fleeing Chavez, seek U.S. safety net". Reuters. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  31. ^ a b c Maria Delgado, Antonio (28 August 2014). "Venezuela agobiada por la fuga masiva de cerebros". El Nuevo Herald. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  32. ^ a b "El 90% de los venezolanos que se van tienen formación universitaria". El Impulso. 23 August 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  33. ^ Montilla K., Andrea (4 July 2014). "Liceístas pasan de grado sin cursar varias materias". El Nacional. Retrieved 9 July 2014. 

External links

  • (Spanish) Gobierno en Línea: Misiones – Official government website detailing the Bolivarian Missions.
  • (Spanish) Instituto Nacional de Estadística – Venezuela's National Institute of Statistics; has web several portals for accessing demographic and economic data.
  • Venezuela's Cooperative Revolution from Dollars & Sense magazine
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