In a letter to Engels of 14 February 1858, Marx says: “Moreover a longish article on Bolívar elicited objections from Dana because, he said, it is written in a ‘partisan style’, and he asked me to cite my authorities. This I can, of course, do, although it is a singular demand. As regards the ‘partisan style’, it is true that I departed somewhat from the tone of a cyclopedia. To see the dastardly, most miserable and meanest of blackguards described as Napoleon I was altogether too much. Bolívar is a veritable Soulouque [the former slave, later President of Haiti].”
Karl Marx's scathing 1858 entry on Simón Bolívar for The New American Cyclopaedia (1858):
Bolívar y Ponte, Simon, the “liberator” of Colombia, born at Caracas, July 24, 1783, died at San Pedro, near Santa Martha, Dec. 17, 1830. He was the son of one of the familias Mantuanas, which, at the time of the Spanish supremacy, constituted the creole nobility in Venezuela. In compliance with the custom of wealthy Americans of those times, at the early age of 14 he was sent to Europe. From Spain he passed to France, and resided for some years in Paris. In 1802 he married in Madrid, and returned to Venezuela, where his wife died suddenly of yellow fever. After this he visited Europe a second time, and was present at Napoleon’s coronation as emperor, in 1804, and at his assumption of the iron crown of Lombardy, in 1805. In 1809 he returned home, and despite the importunities of Joseph Felix Ribas, his cousin, he declined to join in the revolution which broke out at Caracas, April 19, 1810 but, after the event, he accepted a mission to London to purchase arms and solicit the protection of the British government. Apparently well received by the marquis of Wellesley, then secretary for foreign affairs, he obtained nothing beyond the liberty to export arms for ready cash with the payment of heavy duties upon them. On his return from London, he again withdrew to private life, until, Sept. 1811, he was prevailed upon by Gen. Miranda, then commander-in-chief of the insurgent land and sea forces, to accept the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the staff, and the command of Puerto Cabello, the strongest fortress of Venezuela.
Gregory Wilpert, a freelance writer based in ’s capital , has written a very useful study of the history and policies of the Chavez government in . He examines its governance policy, economic policy, social policy and foreign policy. He looks at the opportunities, obstacles and prospects facing the Venezuelan people, and explores Chavez’s ideas of 21st-century socialism.
In 1998, the people elected Hugo Chavez President, with 56.2 per cent of the votes. In the 2004 recall referendum, he won 58 per cent of the votes and in the 2006 election, 62.9 per cent.
Wilpert notes that the previous ruling class’s counter-revolutionary acts against the Chavez government have each radicalised the government. He also notes that between 2001 and 2005, the state sent $27 million to opposition groups.
The government is promoting micro-credits, cooperatives, worker co-management, efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in food production, and skills training and logistical support to help people to start coops and social enterprises. Its social programmes have cut poverty from 44 percent to 38 per cent.
Wilpert shows how the Chavez government is trying to move from representative democracy to a more participatory democracy.
This is an excellent introduction to the history and policies of the Chavez government, joining Eva Golinger’s The Chavez code, and Bart Jones’ Hugo! The Hugo Chavez story: from mud hut to perpetual revolution.