'The Homeland is Eternal', Venezuelans Say, Evoking Hugo Chavez

'The Homeland is Eternal', Venezuelans Say, Evoking Hugo Chavez
Fecha de publicación: 
3 March 2023
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The Bolivarian revolution leader continues to inspire new generations a decade after his death.

On Sunday, Venezuelans will remember the tenth anniversary of the death of Hugo Chavez, leader of the Bolivarian revolution who served as president from 1999 to 2013.

Chavez was born on July 28, 1954, in Sabaneta de Barinas. His parents were primary school teachers, and he had five siblings. Young Chavez studied primary and secondary school in Sabaneta and graduated in Military Sciences and Arts in 1975.

He obtained the highest qualifications in the courses he passed in the Armed Forces and served as commander of the Coronel Antonio Briceño Parachute Battalion.

In 1982, when Chavez was still part of the Venezuelan army, he carried out a symbolic act announcing his aspirations for social change and his leftist ideology.

He created the Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement-200 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Simon Bolivar, the father of the Venezuelan homeland who fought against the Spanish empire in the 19th century. 

On that occasion, he swore to embark on the path towards building a Bolivarian Republic. This event remains embedded in Venezuelan history as the "Saman de Guere Oath", a symbol through which the patriotic military promised to fight against the economic and political elites that kept the Venezuelan people in poverty.

A decade later, on Feb. 4, 1992, Chavez and 2,300 soldiers rose against President Carlos Perez (1989-1993), who implemented neoliberal economic policies against the people. The uprising, however, failed, and Chavez was imprisoned in the San Francisco de Yare jail.

Thanks to a political agreement between President Rafael Caldera (1994-1999) and leftist sectors, Chavez left prison in 1994. He then founded the Movement for the Fifth Republic (MVR), a party with which he won the 1998 presidential elections.

Chavez also boosted regional cooperation by creating the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America - People's Trade Agreement (ALBA-TCP), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), and the Petrocaribe oil alliance.

In 2005, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) awarded Chavez the Jose Marti International Prize for his work in favor of Latin American integration and heritage.

The Bolivarian leader was elected for a third consecutive term in the 2012 elections, in which he obtained 55 percent of valid votes. He, however, could only assume up this term for one year as he died in 2013, aged 58, after a nearly two-year battle against cancer.

“Chavez’s legacy remains: the Bolivarian Revolution advances, ALBA is reborn, the integration of Our America will come,” Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel praised, recalling that the Venezuelan leader was the best friend of the Cuban Revolution.

"Love for the Homeland leads one to give one’s life for it if necessary. Our life is transitory, and that of the Homeland is eternal,” Chavez once stated.

Once in power, he called a referendum to write a Bolivarian constitution, which voters approved by over 81 percent of the ballots. He also promoted an agrarian reform through which socialist enterprises and farmers were handed over 10.2 million land hectares.

Chavez also issued a Hydrocarbons Law that allowed Venezuela to exercise full sovereignty over its oil resources and a Fisheries Law to improve the working conditions of artisanal fishermen.

In 2003, Chavez created the National Mission System (NMS). This initiative comprised several development programs, including the Barrio Adentro mission, which improved the national health care system, and the Robinson program, which schooled up to sixth grade all citizens.

During his tenure, Chavez supported leftist Latin American leaders, including President Fidel Castro, with whom he signed an agreement in October 2000 to supply oil to Cuba on preferential terms. 

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