Defining Venezuela's "Bolivarian Revolution"

By Trinkunas, Harold A. | Military Review, July/August 2005 | Go to article overview

Defining Venezuela's "Bolivarian Revolution"

Trinkunas, Harold A., Military Review

FINDING A MOMENT in the history of U.S.-Venezuelan relations when tensions between the two countries have been worse than at the present time is difficult. Some in the U.S. Government perceive President Hugo Chávez Frias as uncooperative regarding U.S. regional policies on counternarcotics, free trade, and support for democracy. Venezuela's alliance with Fidel Castro's Cuba, its opposition to Plan Colombia, and its perceived sympathy for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (PARC) and other radical organizations are further irritants to the relationship. On the other side. Venezuelan leaders in the Chávez administration believe the United States is fundamentally opposed to the success of the Bolivarian revolution and that U.S. hegemony in the current world order must be checked.

Although officials in both countries occasionally express hope that relations will improve, this is unlikely to happen given the perceptions each country's foreign policymakers hold of each other.1

Since he was elected president in 1998, Chávez has transformed Venezuelan Government and society in what he has termed a Bolivarian revolution. Based on Chávez's interpretation of the thinking of Venezuelan founding fathers Simón Bolívar and Simón Rodríguez, this revolution brings together a set of ideas that justifies a populist and sometimes authoritarian approach to government, the integration of the military into domestic politics, and a focus on using the state's resources to serve the poor-the president's main constituency.

The Bolivarian revolution has produced a new constitution, a new legislature, a new supreme court and electoral authorities, and purges of Venezuela's armed forces and state-owned oil industries. These policies consolidated Chavez's domestic authority but generated a great deal of opposition in Venezuela, including a failed coup attempt in 2002. Even so, after his victory in a presidential recall referendum during the summer of 2004, Chávez seems likely to consolidate his grip on power and even win reelection in 2006.

Although the Bolivarian revolution is mostly oriented toward domestic politics, it also has an important foreign policy component. Bolivarian foreign policy seeks to defend the revolution in Venezuela; promote a sovereign, autonomous leadership role for Venezuela in Latin America; oppose globalization and neoliberal economic policies; and work toward the emergence of a multipolar world in which U.S. hegemony is checked.2 The revolution also opposes the war in Iraq and is skeptical of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The United States has worked fruitfully in the past with Venezuela when the country pursued an independent foreign policy, but the last three policies run directly contrary to U.S. foreign policy preferences and inevitably have generated friction between the two countries.3

Still, the geopolitics of oil make it difficult for the United States and Venezuela to escape their traditional economic and political partnership. The United States is Venezuela's most important consumer of its main export-oil. As a market, the United States possesses key advantages for Venezuela, such as geographic proximity, low transportation costs, and an ever increasing demand for energy. Access to large Venezuelan oil deposits across short, secure sea lines of communication is undoubtedly a strategic asset for the United States. Also, the United States and Venezuela have often found common political ground after Venezuela democratized in 1958, particularly as the rest of Latin America moved away from authoritarianism during the 1980s and 1990s.

Nevertheless, friction between the United States and Venezuela on trade policies, human rights, and regional politics is not new. What is different today about Venezuela's Bolivarian foreign policy is that it seems to be increasingly at odds with the United States precisely in the areas that once brought the two countries together- oil and democracy. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Defining Venezuela's "Bolivarian Revolution"


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.