Latin America

The legacy of “The Liberator” and modern-day bolivarianism

The 19th-century leader is a crucial political figure in Venezuela until today, thanks largely to the late Hugo Chávez

bolivarianism venezuela maduro
Woman holds a photograph of the late Hugo Chávez during a rally in support for his successor, Nicolás Maduro. Photo: StringerAL/Shutterstock

In his famously long and scathing speeches delivered from the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez — who led the country until his death in 2013 — was always shadowed by a large and triumphant portrait of Simón Bolívar, the military leader who liberated Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Bolivia from Spanish rule in the early 1800s.

More than just a nod to his hero, the portrait of Bolívar represented much more to Hugo Chávez and his government. His unwavering belief in self-identification, popular democracy, and territorial and political sovereignty formed the basis of...

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