Bolivarian University of Venezuela
The Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela is a state university in Venezuela founded in 2003 by decree of President Hugo Chávez. The UBV is a part of the Chávez government's "Mission Sucre" social programs, which aim to provide free higher education to the poor. Enrollment at the UBV is free and open to all, regardless of academic qualifications, prior education or nationality; the government expects the student body to grow to 1 million by 2009, with more than 190 satellite classrooms throughout Venezuela. The education programme at the UBV is in line with Hugo Chávez's democratic socialist vision of a Latin American "Bolivarian Revolution". Opposition leader Julio Borges though, labels it a "thinly disguised propaganda factory that takes advantage of the country's most vulnerable citizens". However, others are more optimistic. Maria Ejilda Castellano, the rector of the Bolivarian University in Caracas, has said that the institution is designed to benefit the poor by encouraging the open exchange of ideas.
Castellano said that the Bolivarian University is based on UNESCO principles for education and that "The professional produced by this institution will work for the transformation of society. She will be a critical thinker who can stimulate others and generate questions." The following courses are offered at UBV: Agroecology Architecture Social Communication Education Animation Environmental Management Social Management of Local Development Public Health Management Medicine Information Technology for Social Management Law Political Science The University will have branches in the most important regions in Venezuela. At the present time there are branches in: Caracas Punto Fijo Maturín Ciudad Bolívar Maracaibo Ciudad Guayana Barinitas Maracay San Cristóbal Candidate students must be high-school graduates; as distinguished from the rest of Venezuelan universities, they are assigned by the Mission Sucre. As of January 2011, the UBV has awarded over 120,000 degrees. Bolivarian University website
Death of Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chávez, the 45th President of Venezuela, died on 5 March 2013 at the age of 58. His death triggered a presidential election, constitutionally required to be called within 30 days. Nicolás Maduro served as interim president following Chávez's death until 14 April, because the Vice President did not want to take charge of the country as Chávez had nominated Nicolas Maduro as a successor. Chávez was first elected as president in 1998 and was re-elected in 2000, 2006 and in 2012. However, Chávez was unable to be sworn in for a fourth term after the 2012 election due to his illness. Chávez was diagnosed with cancer following the discovery of a mass in his pelvic region in June 2011, he traveled to Havana, Cuba where he underwent a surgical operation to remove a malignant cancerous tissue mass'about the size of a baseball' from his waist. He underwent a second surgical operation in Venezuela one month later. Over the next 12 months, he followed a cycle of chemotherapy; the type of cancer Chávez was diagnosed with was never made public which fueled speculation over his condition.
Following the presidential election in October 2012, he went to Cuba for more treatment and returned to Venezuela and stayed at a Caracas army hospital for one week until his death. Successive announcements of his return and updates of his health were criticised by the country's opposition that the population were unaware of his health and location; the fact that the cancer had metastasised was not made public during the campaign, denied by Government officers. After the first lung infection in the last stages of his life, Chávez was intubated nearing the end of December, his breathing worsened until his death was announced at 16:25 VET on 5 March 2013 two years after he was first diagnosed. Vice President Nicolás Maduro announced Chávez's death on a mandatory television cadena. In an emotional eulogy Maduro said: "Let there be no violence. Let there be no hate. In our hearts there should only be one feeling: Love." Maduro indicated that Chávez had died "after battling a tough illness for nearly two years."
He added that police and troops would be deployed across the country'to guarantee the peace.' The head of the presidential guard said Chávez died of a massive heart attack after great suffering and had inaudibly mouthed his desire to live. In an interview to the Associated Press he said that Chávez could not speak but he said it with his lips... "I don't want to die. Please don't let me die"; the BBC reported isolated incidents of violence following the announcement of Chávez's death. Although pro-Chavez supporters attacked and burned tents of students who had camped demanding more official information about Chávez's health, there were no reported injuries. Vice President Maduro indicated he had "no doubt" of foul play by "the historical enemies of our fatherland" behind Chávez's illness and death. Defence Minister Diego Morelo Bellavia said that the "Bolivarian" armed forces would be loyal to the vice president and National Assembly and urged supporters and opposition to remain calm. After defecting from Venezuela, former bodyguard for Chávez, Leamsy Salazar, stated that he died in December 2012, months before his date was announced.
In July 2018, former Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz said that Chávez had died in December 2012 and the announcement of his death was delayed for political reasons. In an interview cited by Venezuelan daily El Nacional, the former Chávez supporter said that the Venezuelan president died on 28 December, but his closest allies decided to delay the announcement and never submitted the death certificate to the Office of the Attorney General; the supposed delay in announcing Chávez's death raised concerns that laws signed in his name during that period were forged for political purposes. Thousands of people flooded the streets of the capital Caracas. Many hugged in public shows of emotion. Women were weeping at Miraflores Palace. With a mixture of joy and sadness Chávez supporters shared their impressions after him a last farewell: "That man emanates a force forward and his face says my people.". People left work for the day upon hearing the news and offices shut and cars and buses filled the streets.
Opposition leader and opponent in the 2012 election, Henrique Capriles, called on the government to "act in strict accordance with its constitutional duties." He added his condolences to Chávez's family saying "we were adversaries, but never enemies". Acting President Nicolás Maduro said he believed Chávez was assassinated by Venezuela's "historical enemies", that a "scientific commission" would investigate this possibility; the US State Department denied any American involvement, calling the claim "absurd". On the first anniversary of Chavez's death, tens of thousands of his supporters marched through cities across Venezuela; this was coupled with the 2014 Venezuelan protests featuring anti-government demonstrations. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office issued a statement expressing condolences. Reactions within the Americas by citizens occurred outside Venezuela's embassies in Honduras, El Salvador and Ecuador. Spanish citizens expressed their support and solidarity to the people of Venezuela, by concentrating on Wednesday afternoon in the vicinity of the Plaza Puerta del Sol in Madrid, to express in slogans that "Chávez's legacy will remain far beyond of his death."
OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza ordered the body's flags to be flown at half-mast and the convening of a special meeting of
1992 Venezuelan coup d'état attempts
The Venezuelan coup attempts of 1992 were attempts to seize control of the government of Venezuela by the Hugo Chávez-led Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200. The first coup attempt took place on February 4, 1992, was led by Chávez. A second coup attempt on November 27, 1992, took place while Chávez was in prison but was directed by a group of young military officers who were loyal to the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200; the coups were directed against President Carlos Andrés Pérez and occurred in a period marked by neo-liberal economic reforms, which were attempted in order to decrease the country's level of indebtedness and had caused major protests and labour unrest. Despite their failure to depose the government of Carlos Andrés, the February coup attempts brought Chávez into the national spotlight. Fighting during the coups resulted in the deaths of at least 143 people and as many as several hundred. While unconfirmed, Cuban involvement in and facilitation of the coup attempts was alleged by multiple sources.
CIA analyst Brian Latell suggested that the Cuban intelligence agency, the Dirección General de Inteligencia, may have utilized Chávez to fulfill Cuban strategic dominance of Venezuela and its oil reserves. In Latell's view, the DGI may have either hired Chávez as an agent or provided critical aid to his coup plots. Latell claims Cuba had engaged in efforts to destabilize Venezuela by aiding guerrillas in the 1960s. According to General Carlos Julio Peñaloza in his book El Delfín de Fidel, both Fidel Castro and the succeeding President of Venezuela, Rafael Caldera, knew of Chávez's coup plot. Castro provided agents to convince President Pérez that there was no threat of a coup. After the coup, manipulated by Castro and Chávez, was supposed to take power after Pérez was removed from the presidency. Venezuela had enjoyed democratic stability since 1958, a degree of prosperity; this prosperity was enhanced in the 1970s, when oil prices increased and Venezuela, a large petroleum exporter, received large revenues, which increased per capita income by about 40%.
Venezuela experienced modernization and had one of the highest GDP per capita in its history, while having an exchange rate of 4 bolivares per 1 US dollar. However, in the 1980s, other oil producers raised their production, oil prices dropped. Venezuela's oil revenues dropped and per capita income declined by about 25%; this imperiled social stability in general. The government's overspending on programs caused massive levels of debt with poverty and unemployment rising while income declined. Corruption was widespread with crime increasing yearly, making the Venezuelan public the poor who felt neglected, become outraged; the IMF offered assistance to Venezuela with these debts, but on condition of Venezuela enacting budgetary and fiscal reforms to curtail the deficits. In 1989, President Pérez put these neoliberal policies into effect, reducing social spending and many commodity subsidies, removing longstanding price controls on many goods; these policies bore on Venezuela's working class and lower class majority.
The resultant discontent erupted in the "Caracazo" riots of 27 February 1989. Many of the participants in the coups had been members of the Partido de la Revolución Venezolana in the 1970s; the PRV was created by ex-Communist and guerrilla fighter Douglas Bravo, who after failing in an armed insurrection, sought to infiltrate the Venezuelan armed forces to reach power. Thus, preparation for the coup began more than ten years before Pérez was re-elected in 1988; the coup organizers rejected the dominant political consensus of Venezuela, known as puntofijismo, established in 1958. Under puntofijismo, political power was held by two political parties, Democratic Action and COPEI, which they saw as the two arms of a corrupt, clientelist establishment; the Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucionario 200 was founded in 1982 by lieutenant colonel Hugo Chávez Frías, joined by Francisco Arias Cárdenas. They used the Venezuelan revolutionary hero Simón Bolívar as their group's symbol, their main complaint was the corruption of Carlos Andrés Pérez as well as Venezuela's ongoing economic difficulties and social turmoil.
In the view of these two men, the entire political system had to be changed in order for social change to occur. In February 1989 shortly before the Caracazo, Cuban president Fidel Castro placed sleeper agents in Venezuela to create unrest, with Cuba entering its Special Period and experiencing economic difficulties as a result of the Soviet Union's Perestroika, Castro sought to establish an ally in Venezuela so Cuba could enjoy funds from oil profits; as the Revolutions of 1989 occurred in Soviet states, Castro had began to organize a coup in late-1989 that would indirectly use sleeper agents who participated in the Caracazo. Castro, one of the main organizers according to Venezuelan Major Orlando Madriz Benítez, would instead use Chávez as the face of a civil-military action in order to avoid retaliatory actions from the United States. After an extended period of popular dissatisfaction and economic decline under the neoliberal administration of Carlos Andrés Pérez, Chávez made extensive preparations for a military-civilian coup d'état.
Planned for December 1991, Chávez delayed the MBR-200 coup until the early twilight hours of February 4, 1992. Chávez at the time held the loyalty of some 10% of Venezuela's military forces. On that date, five army units under Chávez's command moved into urban Caracas to seize key military and communications installations throughout the city, including the presidential
History of Venezuela (1999–present)
Since 2 February 1999, Venezuela saw sweeping and radical shifts in social policy, moving away from the government embracing a free market economy and neoliberal reform principles and towards socialist income redistribution and social welfare programs. Then-President Hugo Chávez just as radically up-ended Venezuela's traditional foreign policy. Instead of continuing Venezuela's past support for American and European strategic interests, Chávez promoted alternative development and integration paradigms for the Global South. Chávez died in office on 5 March 2013 and was succeeded by his Vice President Nicolás Maduro, who gained a slim majority in the 14 April 2013 special election and has ruled by decree for the majority of the period between 19 November 2013 through 2018. Hugo Chávez's political activity began in the 1980s and 1990s, a period of economic downturn and social upheaval in Venezuela. Venezuela's economic well-being fluctuated with the unstable demand for its primary export commodity, oil.
Oil accounts for three-quarters of Venezuela's exports, half of its government's fiscal income, a quarter of the nation's GDP. The 1970s were boom years for oil, during which the material standard of living for all classes in Venezuela improved; this was due to the ruling AD and COPEI parties' investing in social welfare projects which, because of the government's oil income, they could do without taxing private wealth. "Venezuelan workers enjoyed the highest wages in Latin America and subsidies in food, health and transport." However, "toward the end of the 1970s, these tendencies began to reverse themselves." Per capita oil income and per capita income both declined, leading to a foreign debt crisis and forced devaluation of the bolivar in 1983. The negative trend continued through the 1990s. "Per capita income in 1997 was 8 percent less than in 1970. "Between 1984 and 1995 the percentage of people living below the poverty line jumped from 36 percent to 66 percent, while the number of people suffering from extreme poverty tripled, from 11 percent to 36 percent."Along with these economic changes came various changes in Venezuelan society.
Class division intensified, as summarised by Edgardo Lander: A sensation of insecurity became generalized throughout the population, constituting "an emerging culture of violence... distinct from the culture of tolerance and peace that dominated Venezuelan society in the past.". Along with unemployment, personal safety topped the problems perceived as most serious by the population. Between 1986 and 1996 the number of homicides per 10,000 inhabitants jumped from 13.4 to 56, an increase of 418 percent, with most of the victims being young males. Countless streets in the middle - and upper-class neighborhoods were privatized; the threat represented by the "dangerous class" came to occupy a central place in the media – along with demands that drastic measures be taken, including the death penalty or direct execution by the police. During this period, the prospect of a reasonably comfortable life for most Venezuelans, which had appeared attainable in the 1970s, became remote. According to Lander: These crises-like conditions became permanent features of society.
We are dealing here not with the exclusion of a minority categorized as "marginal" in relation to society as a whole but with the living conditions and cultural reproduction of the great majority of the population. The result was the development of what Ivez Pedrazzini and Magalay Sánchez have called the "culture of urgency." They describe a practical culture of action in which the informal economy, illegitimacy and mistrust of official society are common. Alejandro Moreno characterizes this other cultural universe as the popular-life world, other, different from Western modernity – organized in terms of a matriarchal family structure, with different conceptions of time and community, a relational rationality distinct from the abstract rationality of the dominant society; this cultural context is scarcely compatible with the model of citizenship associated with liberal democracies of the West. On the political front, the AD's Carlos Andrés Pérez became president in 1989 on a platform of anti-neoliberalism, describing International Monetary Fund structural adjustment recipes as "la-bomba-sólo-mata-gente" – the bomb that only kills people.
However, shortly after attaining office, Pérez, "faced with a severe crisis of international reserves, fiscal as well as trade and balance-of-payment deficits, an external debt that under these conditions could not be paid," signed a letter of intent with the International Monetary Fund stipulating that he carry out a neoliberal adjustment program that entailed privatisation and the dismantling of social welfare programs and subsidies. The agreement was not submitted to parliamentary consultation and was made public only after having been signed. On 25 February 1989, the government announced an increase in gasoline prices, two days a public transit price rise precipitated the Caracazo, a series of mass demonstrations and riots in Caracas and Venezuela's other principal cities. Pérez imposed martial law; the military's suppression of the rebellion resulted in, by the government's own admission, 300 deaths. Chávez, involved since the early 1980s in a leftist group in the military called the Movimiento Bolivariano Rev
Bolívar is one of the 23 states into which Venezuela is divided. The state capital city is Ciudad Bolívar. Bolívar State covers a total surface area of 240,500 km² and as of the 2011 census, had a population of 1,410,964; the territory covered by present-day Bolívar was part of the Guayana Province, a Province of the Spanish Empire and of Venezuela. Historical Zone of Ciudad Bolívar Canaima National Park La Gran Sabana Angel Falls Roraima Sarisariñama Kavanayén Santa Elena de Uairen Cerro Bolivar, a large iron mine Caroni River Bolívar State is sub-divided into eleven municipalities, given below with their administrative centres and populations: According to the 2011 Census, the racial composition of the population was: States of Venezuela
Constitution of Venezuela
The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is the current and twenty-sixth constitution of Venezuela. It was drafted in mid-1999 by a constitutional assembly, created by popular referendum. Adopted in December 1999, it replaced the 1961 Constitution, the longest-serving in Venezuelan history, it was promoted by President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez and thereafter received strong backing from diverse sectors, including figures involved in promulgating the 1961 constitution such as Luis Miquilena and Carlos Andrés Pérez. Chávez and his followers refer to the 1999 document as the "Constitución Bolivariana" because they assert that it is ideologically descended from the thinking and political philosophy of Simón Bolívar and Bolivarianism. Since the creation of the Constituent National Assembly in August 2017, the Bolivarian government has declared the 1999 constitution suspended until a new constitution is created; the Constitution of 1999 was the first constitution approved by popular referendum in Venezuelan history, summarily inaugurated the so-called "Fifth Republic of Venezuela" due to the socioeconomic changes foretold in its pages, as well as the official change in Venezuela's name from the República de Venezuela to the República Bolivariana de Venezuela.
Major changes are made to the structure of Venezuela's government and responsibilities, while a much greater number of human rights are enshrined in the document as guaranteed to all Venezuelans – including free education up to tertiary level, free health care, access to a clean environment, right of minorities to uphold their own traditional cultures and languages, among others. The 1999 Constitution, with 350 articles, is among the world's longest, most complicated, most comprehensive constitutions. One of the outstanding differences between Venezuelan and most of the other constitutions of the Americas is the lack of the possibility of impeachment of the president by the national parliament. Instead, it enables citizens to remove the president through a recall referendum. President Hugo Chávez was first elected under the provisions of the 1961 Constitution in the presidential election of 6 December 1998. Chávez had been contemplating a constitutional convention for Venezuela as an ideal means to bring about sweeping and radical social change to Venezuela beginning from the eve of his 1992 coup attempt.
Chávez would state that: We discussed how to break with the past, how to overcome this type of democracy that only responds to the interests of the oligarchical sectors. We had always rejected the idea of a traditional military coup, of a military dictatorship, or of a military governing junta. We were aware of what happened in Colombia, in the years of 1990–1991, when there was a constitutional assembly – of course! – it was limited because in the end it was subordinated to the existing powers. It was the existing powers that designed Colombia’s constitutional assembly and got it going and, therefore, it could not transform the situation because it was a prisoner of the existing powers and thoughts. After his imprisonment and release, he began to seek a political career with such a convention as its political goal. Thus, in the 1998 presidential elections, one of Chávez's electoral promises was to organise a referendum asking the people if they wanted to convene a National Constituent Assembly.
His first decree as president was thus to order such a referendum, which took place on 19 April. The electorate were asked two questions – whether a constituent assembly should be convened, whether it should follow the mechanisms proposed by the president; the "yes" vote in response to these two question totalled 92% and 86%, respectively. Elections were held, on 25 July, to elect 131 deputies to the Constituent Assembly, which convened and debated proposals during the remainder of 1999. Chávez's widespread popularity allowed the constitutional referendum to pass with a 72%'yes' vote. Chávez's Polo Patriotico went on to win 92% of the seats in the new voter-approved Venezuelan Constitutional Assembly. Conflict soon arose between the Constitutional Assembly and the older institutions it was supposed to reform or replace. During his 1998 presidential campaign, in advance of the 25 July elections to the Assembly, Chávez had maintained that the new body would have precedence over the existing Congress and the courts, including the power to dissolve them if it so chose.
Against this, some of his opponents, including notably the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Cecilia Sosa Gomez, argued that the Constitutional Assembly must remain subordinate to the existing institutions until the constitution it produced had been ratified. In mid August 1999, the Constitutional Assembly moved to restructure the nation's judiciary, claiming the power to fire judges, seeking to expedite the investigations of corruption outstanding against what the New York Times estimated were nearly half of the nation's 4700 judges and bailiffs. On 23 August, the Supreme Court voted 8–6 that the Assembly was not acting unconstitutionally in assuming those powers. Over 190 judges were suspended on charges of corruption. On 25 August, the Constitutional Assembly declared a "legislative emergency," voting to limit the Congress's work to matters such as supervising the budget and communications. In response
Mission Barrio Adentro
Mission Barrio Adentro is a Bolivarian national social welfare program established by the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. The program seeks to provide comprehensive publicly funded health care, dental care, sports medicine to poor and marginalized communities in Venezuela. Two features of Misión Barrio Adentro are the construction of thousands of two-story medical clinics and staffing with resident-certified medical professionals. Billed as an attempt to deliver a de facto form of universal healthcare, Barrio Adentro became a way to grant access to medical care to Venezuelan citizens whose political stance the Bolivarian government deemed acceptable; the Latin American branch of the World Health Organization and UNICEF praised the program in 2005. According to WHO statistics, infant mortality fell from 23 to 20 in males and 19 to 17 in females per 1,000 births between 2003 and 2005. Of a planned 8,500 Barrio Adentro I centers, 2,708 had been built by May 2007, using an investment of around US$126 million, with a further 3,284 under construction.
As of 2006, the staff included 31,439 professionals, technical personnel, health technicians, of which 15,356 were Cuban doctors and 1,234 Venezuelan doctors. In 2014, the government celebrated eleven years of the mission, claiming that over 10,000 clinics were created. In Caracas, Mission Barrio Adentro I and II centers in 32 parishes were the subject of constant complaints regarding performance after receiving 1.492 million Bolivares from the government. Councilman Alejandro Vivas stated that "instead of having positive results, what is observed is the discontent of the citizens for a performance that leaves much to be desired"; as of December 2014, it was estimated that 80% of Barrio Adentro establishments were abandoned in Venezuela, with the majority of Cuban medical personnel leaving the country. By the end of 2015, the Bolivarian government reported that one in three of Venezuelan patients admitted to public health facilities that year died. In October 2016, the Miami Herald reported that hundreds of doctors were being recalled by the Cuban government due to a lack of payments by Venezuela.
The Barrio Adentro program was developed against the backdrop of a public health sector crumbling under long-term financial pressure. As part of Rafael Caldera's neo-liberalist programs of the early 1990s, a Venezuela struggling with inflation and low oil prices was forced into spending cuts and privatization in a number of sectors, including healthcare. A 1989 decentralization law contributed to the trend. Cost recovery became prevalent through "voluntary" contributions from users. In addition to the problems with the healthcare system, over the course of the decade, health problems caused by poverty increased. By 1999, 67.7% of the Venezuelan population was living in poverty, from 44.4% in 1990. In 1999, following the election of Hugo Chávez, the Ministry of Health planned to develop a new National Public Health System, with a particular focus on health promotion, disease prevention, community participation, the strengthening of the primary health care infrastructure; the 2000/1 annual report by PROVEA highlighted a number of positive features of the new approach, including a wider availability of health services through progressive elimination of users’ fees.
The Barrio Adentro program is an example of Latin American Social Medicine, which became prominent in the 1960s and 1970s. Among others in Latin America, both Salvador Allende in Chile in the early 1970s and Tabaré Vázquez in Uruguay since 2005 have implemented LASM principles. LASM's roots can be traced back to 19th-century European social medicine, exported to Latin America in the early 20th century. LASM emphasises a collective and holistic approach to healthcare, rather than treating the particular symptoms of an individual, thus the importance of health promotion and disease prevention is stressed—informed by the political and social determinants of health—over a reactive treatment of health problems as they occur. LASM incorporates the concept of primary health care, of which the "simplified healthcare" adopted in rural Venezuela in the 1960s and 1970s was one form. More in 2006, Barrio Adentro was described by the Director of the PAHO as "the culmination of 25 years of experience in Latin America and the rest of the world in transforming health systems through the primary health care strategy."When Hugo Chávez became President in 1999, he sought to implement LASM principles, beginning with their incorporation into the new 1999 Venezuelan Constitution, in articles 83–85 of Title III.
These articles enshrine free and high quality healthcare as a human right guaranteed to all Venezuelan citizens. Notably, Article 84 of Title III follows LASM principles in declaring health promotion and disease prevention a priority. In addition, Article 85 mandates that the government provide adequate funding for the public healthcare system, while Article 84 explicitly proscribes its privatization. Initial attempts to transform the Ministry of Health to LASM principles were met with little success; the Venezuelan Medical Federation was aligned with the Punto F