Hugo Chavez the Son of Simon Bolivar
July 15, 2021
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The revolutionary activities of Simon Bolivar freed the present six countries of South America from the imperial rule of the Spaniards. History perceives him as an intellect who argued out the problems, chanted the national liberation, and general who fought a war of unremitting violence. Many people had likened Hugo Chavez to Simon Bolivar. However, cross analysis of the principles that Simon had desired for in comparison to the actions of Hugo reveals a great disconnect among the two. Through his four letters, Simon came out as a leader who had a great desire for a republic state, with executive powers, a country whose leadership would not enslave its own people, and went out of his way to advocate violence in order to relieve his people from their oppressors. On the other hand, Hugo was selfish leader who used the tenets of Bolivarian to justify his evil deeds.
From the end of the independence war in the year 1824 to his death on 17 December 1830, ‘El Libertador’ Simon Bolivar was the President of Venezuela. He was a revered leader who played a central role in the independence movement of Latin America during his lifetime. Many described him as a charming and charismatic leader, astute politician, who spearheaded the movement that led to expulsion of Spaniard rule from Latin American’s territories. The fall of his dream of uniting the entire South America demarcated his final years. Until his demise, Simon had dedicated himself to the independence movement of Latin America as a diplomat, publicist, statesman, and an intelligent theoretician. As such, many historians who have been keen on the events of Venezuela have found a strong resemblance in the characters of Hugo Chavez and Simon Bolivar. Hugo himself was a great follower of the Bolivarian doctrines. Therefore, the aim of the paper will be to describe the characteristics of the two Venezuelan icons and compare them in relation to their actions and what they believed in. In doing so, the paper will give a preview of the historical background of Simon Bolivar and compare it to Hugo Chavez.
Simon Bolivar was born on 24 July 1783 in Caracas in a wealthy landowning family of the lineage of Basque. His father, Juan Bolivary Vincente Ponte, was a military person holding the rank of Colonel while the mother was Concepcion Palacios Blanco. He had a brother and two sisters. His father died when he was only three years old. Though he had wealth from parental inheritance, he also had some properties from his cousin who was a priest. His mother past away in 1792, and was now under the custody of his grandfather since his elder sister had already got married. His grandfather also died in 1795, and he was now taken care of by the Uncle Carlos Palacios, but later fled to his sister’s place at the age of 12 after differing with the uncle (Waugh, 2011; Fordham University, 2014).
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Simon descended from the aristocracy of Spanish and received his formal education in Spain just like the majority of criollos. He started schooling in the same place of birth, Caracas and spent much time with his elementary school teacher, Simon Rodriguez who lived between the periods of 1771 to 1854. Rodr?guez became his private tutor and inspired him for the tenets of the republicanism and enlightenment. During his school times, he had interest in Literature, Arithmetic, Religion, History, and Latin. At the age of 14 years, Simon joined the Battalion in Aragua Valley that his father had at one point headed during his military service. He got a promotion from his military bosses within a span of only one year of service to the position of Second Lieutenant (Palacios, 2009).
The practical military training and the theoretical knowledge acquired during his school times were the foundation of his formation. In the course of his studies, he travelled all over the European continent and learnt about their culture, technology, and politics among other. In the year 1805, he vowed while in Rome to dedicate the rest of his life to the liberation of his native land after the death of his wife after only one year of marriage. When he returned to Venezuela in the year 1807, he joined the republican-minded group of intellects in Caracas and in the following year started to agitate for independence under his leadership (Bolivar, 2003).
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On 15 June 1813, Simon proclaimed his famous decree of death. A brutal war had already ensured among them and the Spanish rule, and the atrocities of the war were beginning to escalate. There were merciless execution of prisoners of war, numerous reported rape cases, plundering of towns that had been captured, and many more negative effects of the war. The above atrocities were common among the royalist side, which was an army comprised of the lower class, and mixed races soldiers who were fighting more because of their hatred of their Creole masters, and not for the love of the country. Simon declared in the ‘Decree of War to the Death’ that he would execute all Spanish people that he came across unless they were actively involved in their patriotic course. Even the Spaniards who were neutral would not be condoned. On the other hand, Americans would get a merciless treatment if they surrendered and switched allegiance. The outcome of the decree was a heightened fear of royalists from patriot soldiers and a horrible war. Fortunately, he liberated the Eastern Venezuela from the colonialists and on 6 August 1813 he made a triumphant entry into Caracas after covering over 800 miles from Cartagena (currently Colombia) in only three months. The defeat of Monterverde and recapturing of Caracas allowed the patriots establish the Second Republic of Venezuela that lasted for only a year before royalists forces took over again (Waugh, 2011).
The war portrayed both the negative and positive characteristics of Simon that acted to his advantage and made him a liberator of the Northern South America. He was not only bold, but also aggressive-making decisions that were almost suicidal. However, the characteristics of Simon made him the victor in the battle. He continuously pushed his army, viciously impounded on his enemies when they least expected him, and refused to fight a defensive battle in for a minute opting to always be on the offensive side. His negative personality was displayed when he went against the direct orders from Granada political authorities who had made supplies for his army and supported his decree that escalated the brutality of the war instead of quelling it (Waugh, 2011).
In his famous speech, which has been referred to as ‘Message to the Congress of Angostura, 1819’, Bolivar addressed several issues covering the legal, social, and political angles that were affecting the Venezuelans. The speech has become the foundation of the present moral law. Through his speech, one could actually notice that Bolivar was a true Steadman and a loyal patriot to his country. In addition, his speech addressed the thoughts and conduct of the criollos (native Spanish people who were born and raised in Spanish America) and how the European culture entangled in their native traditions that had evolved to the present Latin American heritage. He devoted better part of his introductory speech in highlighting the plights of the criollos. By that time, the Spanish Crown was castigating various discriminatory policies against the criollos whom he considered low class. The discriminatory laws and regulations had frequently resulted into conflicts. He advised the criollos to rub the mentality that they had a different identity from the European ancestors (Bolivar, 2003).
In his speech, he expressly noted that there was nothing like criollos, or being Indians but a mixed species of the Spaniards and Aborigines. Therefore, there was no claim of titles for the ownership of the land against the natives’ belief that they had radical tit
Better part of his speech also dealt with the political representation of Venezuela. He proposed an integration of the British form of government and the American representation. There was to be a central government with executive powers, which was to be effective. Simon chanted for a constitutional of republic democracy, which was to have effective administrative powers that were centralized (Lynch, 2006).
Another peculiar aspect in the speech was a strong resentment for slavery. He termed slavery as the daughter of darkness. During his times, most of the aristocracy members had slaves. Bolivar himself had slaves, but at the wake of the process of independence, he let them free as a direct attempt by action to show his disgust for slavery. Thus, the above action showed that he acted upon strong humanistic conviction that was informed by the idea of the age of reasoning. His opinion on slavery became the intellectual foundation of an informed society that had no place for slavery anymore. The idea spread through Europe, North America to South America and Latin leading to several slave revolts, e.g. the Haitian Revolution during 1791 and 1804. The idea of slavery was not only a moral reasoning, but also a strategy to counter the glaring threat of Spain using the slaves against them. It was for a reason that any form of violence could have greatly derailed his plans for the newly instituted nation (Latin America History, 2014)
In addition, Simon noted that only proper morals, and not force, could form the foundations of the law. The above enlightenment idea of moral law greatly appealed to the class of intellects of South America and Latin. It taught them of the proper need for equality among people. The concept of equality, which is a quality of law, was of key significance to the countries that were under the rule of foreigners. Especially, the class of criollos who had been the victims of discrimination for long. Such equalities could have really affected negatively on their form of rule of the colonials (Palacios, 2009).
Bolivar’s famous Jamaica Letter ‘Carta de Jamaica’ was also one of the most publicized political blue prints. Bolivar wrote it on 6 September 1815 during exile in Jamaica that was self-imposed. The letter was expressly addressed to ‘an English gentleman’ that scholars speculate could have been Duke of Manchester, who was the governor of the Island. Despite the fact that he drafted the letter at the low point of his struggle against the Spanish rule, Simon showed a great degree of optimism. The Republic of Venezuela was already on its knees because of the brutal battle, several oppositions from the Indians who were reluctant in supporting his course, and rifts among the revolutionaries. The Blacks and Mulattos also showed laxity in supporting his struggle because they viewed Creole landowners as their oppressors, and not Spaniards. The ideas he had expressed in the letter were the same that he had practiced while he was the President of Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. He actually wrote the letter in response to a request from the English gentleman for his opinion on the prospects and background of the liberation movement (Bolivar, 2003).
In the letter, Simon expressly stated his desire for a just society. Moreover, he noted that the culture of the Spain had long tied them and was now guiding them towards the desire for independency. He had stated in the letter that the Spaniards mismanagement of her colonies had led to the rift between the colonies and Spain. He also expressed his resentment for the second time on slavery, likening slavery to people who were oppressed by the government due to misuse of the constitution and infringing on the rights of the citizens. Bolivar said that governments only cared for the military, civil, political, religion and matters of tax. Simon says strongly that the absolutism is a scourge, which reduces citizens to slavery. The letter stated that the situation in South America was even worse compared to Turkey that was locally administered; theirs was monitored from far, in Spain. As a result, people of Spaniard colonies had no development at all. Spain had restricted several economic activities that created slavery and arbitrary poverty. Bolivar had a feeling that the centralized control was not good, and restricted individuals’ rights by confining their potential. He lamented of the locals being denied the leadership positions that was in contradiction to their instilled institutions. The letter noted that the freedom was very important than the natural economic resources. Simon exhibited a great hope when he said that the dictatorship was a temporary expedient that was preparing South America for freedom in the future (Lynch, 2006).
By the time Simon Bolivar was writing the letter, he had made several unsuccessful attempts to emancipate Venezuela and Columbia. The Spanish and some few greedy individuals within the colonies thwarted his liberation attempts. He had longed for a free republican and economy, but saw it as impossible during that time because the citizens had not been taught on how to honor and use the vital institutions that were governing the society (Bolivar, 2003).
Hugo Rafael Chavez Fr?as lived between the periods of 1954 to 2013. He was born on 28 July 1954 in a poor family in the town of Sabanet, Barinas province. He had attended college, but did not graduate, unlike Simon who was well educated. He had also served in the military, just like Simon Bolivar. While at the Venezuela Academy of Military Sciences, he had formed his own secretive society within the army called Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement 200, commonly referred by the locals as Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucionario 200 (MBR-200). The movement tried a botched coup in 1992 against the government of President Carlos Perez, leading to his imprisonment for two years. President Rafael Caldera pardoned him in 1994, and he subsequently joined politics after rebranding his secret movement to Fifth Republic Movement after leaving prisons. He had imposed what he termed as Bolivarian Revolution on the people of Venezuela, against the will of the majority middle and upper class. He also nationalized most of the principal industries, and used much of the revenues that accrued from the oil industries in supporting unsustainable social programs for the poor. In addition, he was at loggerheads with United States due to their ideological differences in the form of governance. His resentment for the United States made him at one point call the then President , George W. Bush, a ‘donkey’ (Palacios, 2009).
Unlike Simon Bolivar who wanted a republican state, with a President elected by the people and guided by the rules and regulations entrenched in the constitution, Hugo wanted a shortcut ascend to power. For that matter, he staged a coup and justified his actions on a national television as fighting for the rights of the poor. Once he was elected in 1998, he instituted several social projects for the poor that were not sustainable. This was a misinterpretation of what Simon had stood for in all his letters and speeches. Bolivar wanted an economic freedom, free from government interference. The nationalization of key industries, from economic point of view, and the interpretation of Bolivar’s desires, was not appropriate. In addition, nationalization of key industries infringed on the rights of the private owners. Bolivar was always for equality irrespective of race or socio-economic status of an individual (Derham, 2010).
Chavez also seemed to be a selfish individual who was power hungry. His act of attempting to overthrow the government, which people had put in place constitutionally, was not something that Simon would have wished for. Secondly, he had changed some sections of the constitutions that spelt the limit of being a president to allow him remain in power as long as the people had elected him. The Venezuelan citizens approved it since the majority of them had been a beneficiary of his social projects. The above was flagrant act of greed, and not for the benefit of the Venezuelan people. Thirdly, after a demonstration against his management of the oil industry, he resigned and was back to his seat within only a day in April 2012. This depicted Chavez as indecisive leader, unlike Simon. Fourthly, even after his death on 5 March 2013, Chavez had pin pointed a president to take over from him, Nicolas Maduro who was serving as his vice president. This was against the desire of Bolivar in all his letters of having a government that the people had been elected (Frias & Harnercker, 2008).
In his tenure, he also nationalized land and industries, some of which were private properties. Simon had fought for the people to get ownership of property and not to take it away from them. Besides, he frequently cracked down on the press instilling fear among journalists and even punishing for slander or libel. He was also instrumental in overseeing the restructuring of the Supreme Court, allowing him to fill it with his loyalists. In addition, he was guided by emotions instead of remaining focused on solving the issues of his people. As such, he had even financed the Colombian rebels at one point and denouncing Israel publicly, which resulted in xenophobic attack for the Jews who were in Venezuela. He had also spent a sizeable amount of money on the weapons and aircrafts from Russia. Hugo was weak, and used intimidation to remain to power as opposed to the aggressive and bold Simon (Clark, 2013; Indepthinfo, 2014).
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It is quite difficult to determine the parts of the letter that Hugo Chavez extrapolated to support his ‘Bolivarian Revolution.’ He could have extracted the attempts of Simon to overthrow the Spaniards rule, but this was a noble course. Simon was convicted by the great desire to liberate his people from the oppression of the colonial masters who had subjected them to near slavery status. Secondly, there was also no legitimate government in place, in which he had advocated one. Therefore, the coup attempt of Hugo Chavez in 1992 to overthrow a legit government in place could never have borrowed from the principles that Simon had stood for. An uprising against established and fully functioning republican government would have only been a step backward, since this is what Simon had wanted. The actions of Chavez had been dictatorial and eroded the economic right of free enterprise and property rights. Simon had considered vital and had a great respect to good government, free economic system that had minimal state interference. Therefore, it would be very difficult to illustrate how Hugo could state the name of Simon as justification for his regime based on the above letter (Derham, 2010).
In summary, it is clear that Simon Bolivar had lived a very short life. The historical documents have described him as an extraordinary versatility. His revolutionary activities freed the present six countries. History records him as an intellect who argued out the problems and plights of national liberation, and general who fought war of unremitting violence. On the contrary, out of his greed, Hugo Chavez had used the Simon Bolivar’s principles in trying to justice his evil deeds, actions that Simon would have discredited from the word go. Though all of them fought viciously, their motives for the violence were very divergent. Simon was ambitious whose use of violence was purely informed by the urge of liberating his people from oppression while Hugo’s violence was from pure greed and used Bolivar as a justification for his violence.