Translation of Chávez’s Speech on the New Constitution

The translation is based on this source text:

SPEECH GIVEN BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOLIVARIAN REPUBLIC OF VENEZUELA, HUGO CHAVEZ FRIAS, AFTER THE PASSAGE OF THE NEW NATIONAL CONSTITUTION

Miraflores Palace, Caracas

December 15, 1999

A very good evening to you all, my dear compatriots.[1] All’s been consummated. The birth has occurred. We’ve given birth. A new Republic has been born. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has been born.[2] However, I must say—as we all know—that birth has unfortunately been painful, brothers and sisters. The design of God, perhaps. Surely, as we’ve often said, “God’s in charge of all of this.” We’ll follow his path and we’ll follow his designs.

I must begin by expressing my profound grief and by voicing to the country the profound feeling of pain that has seized me since I learned of the tragedy that took place in our country today. We’ve been keeping abreast of the situation since before sunrise up to a few minutes ago. We haven’t had rain like this in a long time. There’s been lot of rain, and today the most disadvantaged sectors over the last forty-some years of a regime that ends today for good have been hit hardest.

We’ve had too much rain, and so much has fallen on the poor neighborhoods, on the humble masses. We’ve been receiving reports that started to worry us since this morning. Just a few minutes ago, I heard the latest report, and it’s with great pain that I must say that in the state of Vargas—and we ask God that there are no more victims—but I’ve learned that up to this point, 376 bodies have been recovered. So we ask God for the eternal rest of these compatriots, from the bottom of our hearts and our souls. Our condolences to their families, neighbors, and to the many who have fought so hard, for goodness’ sake, who have longed for a rebirth like this one we’re seeing today, that we’re witnessing today. On the one hand, such sadness and pain, and on the other, great hope and optimism and faith in ourselves, in God and in the Venezuelan people, who know how to overcome such difficulties.

Last night I said something, and perhaps I did so with a sense of foreboding, but clearly, I said so because I had today’s weather reports at hand, all indicating that more rain would fall last night, during the early morning hours, and into all of today in almost the entire country. So you should all remember me quoting Bolívar last night, when I invited you all to take part in the services for today, December 15, a day that will long remain in our national history because we’ve written another page for our history, brothers and sisters. Last night, I quoted our founding father, the Libertador, saying, “If nature opposes us, we’ll fight her and bend her to our will.”[3]

Remembering and following the example of Bolívar, a man who came to be known during his time as the Man of Difficulties, who led the Venezuelan people, overcoming so many difficulties and so many disasters to gain Independence.[4] God wanted today—and so we’ll accept it as Catholics, as Christians—to be overshadowed by a tragedy on precisely the day of her rebirth. Such happenings, such signs of our times! And for the nation, these times are marked by divides, brothers and sisters, by crossing signs, even today’s referendum. Yes or no. Swinging like a pendulum out there in our nation.

Today is a day of crossing signs. Today is the end, and it’s also the beginning. Today marks the end, thanks be to God, and thanks to all of you, the great sovereign people of Venezuela, the heroic people of Venezuela, today marks the end of a terrible era. Today, a Republic comes to a close, the Fourth Republic, which refers not to just the last forty-one years. More accurately, in 1958 a regime was installed here, known as the Punto Fijo Pact. That Pact now has faded away into history. That false democracy has faded away into history. But when I say that something has come to a close today, I speak of a long Republic coming to a close, an oligarchic Republic coming to a close, a Republic coming to a close. Today, an anti-Bolivarian Republic has come to a close, born from the same hateful influences that caused the assassination of the Marshal of Ayucucho, José de Sucre, a Republic born from a hateful influence that betrayed the people, the Venezuelan people.[5]

Justice is served so many years later! Today, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has been born, and happily, beyond the tragedies of today, we have a new Constitution for that Bolivarian Republic. I want to—given the pain that’s seized us, we’ll postpone the event we were going hold today at the People’s Balcony, on the avenue in front of the Palace, because the truth is, brothers and sisters, there’s nothing to celebrate.[6] So says the book, The Warrior Oracle, that now isn’t the time for celebration because our course is long and we have a painful load to bear, and those Venezuelans who were today the victims of the torrential downpour, it seems that they’re a symbol of the painful load we must bear for this process of bringing something to a close, of the death of an epoch, of the death of some terrible times, and of the birth of a new era.[7]

I must also say the following, the Punto Fijo Pact is gone. These forty years of corruption, of negligence, of a State incapable of managing all of the wealth of Venezuela in a healthy way, much less all of the money coming into the country during the last forty years. Those years are gone. We must ask ourselves, compatriots, why do so many Venezuelans live in subhuman conditions, in cardboard shacks, in tin shacks? Why did so many Venezuelans have to move there, along the edges of ravines, on the slopes of hills along the shores, from right here in Caracas and from other cities? That’s the product of the failure of a regime that sacked Venezuela for forty years, and stripped from Venezuelans and their families the right to decent homes, the right to work, the right to live and the right to dignity. So that those deaths of today, those losses of today are in great part due to that failure. Those losses reflect the failure of the Punto Fijo Pact, and for that reason, we’re starting anew.

We’ll bear our cross. We’ll bear our pain. We’ll bear the loss of those Venezuelans who today gave their lives, who have perished on this day of faith, of optimism, and of the future. Their deaths are a symbol of that betrayal of the people. Their deaths are a symbol of the incapability of a regime that ends today and that was known and that fades into history with the name, the Punto Fijo Pact. A political leadership unable to give to the people, as our Father, the Libertador, said, and so our challenge is to now construct the Bolivarian Republic. These words said by Bolívar were a challenge to us all, brothers and sisters.

Bolívar said, “The best system of government is the one that gives the greatest amount of social security, the greatest political stability and the greatest amount of happiness possible to its people.”[8] We now go in this direction, but the regime that has come to a close today, the political system, to be more precise, that has come to a close today, born in 1958, what it gave the Venezuelan people was social insecurity, unhappiness. A terrible regime—may it remain in history never to return—because now is the time for a Republic of free men, for a responsible, democratic state and for a free people with the right to be happy and to live with dignity.

The course of today has been extraordinary, first for the painful respects that we’re paying, for the great difficulties. How many Venezuelans, thousands of Venezuelans unable to vote, so many! We should remember the need today, in an Extraordinary Council of Ministers, to declare eight states of the Republic and the Federal District in a state of emergency. I’ve declared a state of emergency in eight states of the Republic and in the Federal District. In the states of Vargas, Carabobo, Falcón, Nueva Esparta, Sucre, Zulia, Miranda, Yaracuy and, as I said before, the Federal District. We’re receiving up to the minute information from the Garrison Command, from the Civil Defense, from governors and from the Armed Forces. Our Plan Bolívar 2000 is unfolding.[9]

Imagine the number of Venezuelans, and not just those unable to make it to the polling stations on time, but all those deployed today, like the workers, volunteers from the Civil Defense, fire fighters and policemen who have been working since early this morning and are out there working still, attending to the needs of the people during this emergency. Thousands of Venezuelans were unable to carry out their duty to vote, but, fortunately, the great majority of conscientious Venezuelans did so. I should offer some data and comparisons in regards to voter turnout.

We’re very happy, on the one hand, to make comparisons with the abstention rates from this process. Despite the very great difficulties we’ve faced since early this morning, that we’re still facing at this time, despite the fact that thousands of Venezuelans were left unable to vote, despite all of that, the abstention rates today were equal to those from the elections of July 25, when the people elected the National Constitutional Assembly, and the rates today were much less than those for the referendum on April 25.

This is important to remember because this evening and tomorrow, there will, of course, be those voices that will refuse to recognize the efforts of the people. There will be those who will continue refusing to recognize that we’re turning a terrible situation into something positive. There will be those who will say that the abstention rates were what won it for us. That’s a lie! The people won, Venezuela won, the future won, hope won, and optimism won, beyond all the difficulties and beyond the many trials we’ve weathered! Today is just another of those trials because tomorrow, as the Warrior Oracle says, another battle begins.

I’ll use this occasion to call upon all Venezuelans, to call upon those who voted NO, for example, to reflect. Today, a small but important percentage, because every Venezuelan is important to me. A man or a woman who’s confused, who’s been confused by the dirty campaigns, by all the distortion, a young Venezuelan who voted NO, an honest Venezuelan man or woman, and there are many, I call upon these people. Don’t follow, or don’t allow them to continue confusing you. Don’t allow them to continue distorting your views, your capacity for analysis.

Recognize that the immense majority of Venezuelans, seventy-one percent of those who voted, undoubtedly and overwhelmingly approved this new constitution. Recognize that. Read it calmly if you haven’t already, without passion, objectively. Analyze it with your families, and I’m speaking now to that little over a million people who voted NO. I’m assuming their honesty, of course. I believe in them. I believe in you, the little over a million people who voted no. I believe in your good faith, and I’m calling on you to reflect, to reconsider your positions and to join the immense effort that begins this very night.

We’re talking about reconstructing a country that was destroyed. You all know it. Who can deny it? We’re talking about driving a political project forward. We’re talking about constructing a true democracy, since we’ve been misled for so long. They misled us, our children, our parents. They defrauded us all. Now, I call upon you all, we’ll all have a positive attitude, we’ll all unite, business people, Catholics, Protestants, workers, the unemployed, men, women, the young, the elderly, all of us together, the civil military. We’re going to raise the Bolivarian flag.

If Bolívar promoted anything, it was unity, and this needs to be a symbol of the new Bolivarian Republic. Read Bolívar, and you’ll find even in his last proclamation a call for union, in that phrase that reads, “Unity is what we need to complete our project of regeneration. United, we’ll be invincible.”[10] Venezuela will be great once again, and to achieve that, national unity is necessary, as will be leaving behind the old norms, leaving behind the dogmas, leaving behind falsities, leaving behind prejudices, leaving behind fear and putting faith first, along with love, optimism and the desire to have a country, a true democracy, that will be the pride of our Bolivarian lineage, of our lineage as free men and women. We’re going to do this together.

Now, we’re talking about constructing an economy for all, an economic model unlike the barbaric one still in place today, in which only a small number of Venezuelans benefits and lives well, with every comfort. But there’s an immense universe of our compatriots living, as I’ve already said in cardboard houses, as the singer Alí Primera said.[11] Or living under trees, under bridges, without work, schools or hospitals.

We’re talking about constructing a healthy economy, an economic democracy that would generate jobs, fair incomes, that would give the Venezuelan family the possibility of living with dignity once again, through fair incomes and a sense of social security. So that the Venezuelan family, the middle class, can recover lost ground, so that the marginalized can climb out of from that cellar in which they’ve lived in subhuman conditions and attain a higher quality of live, so that we all live like brothers and sisters.

We’ll now construct, from this day forward, a new, solidary society, in which we exist to help one another, and I now reference the great teacher Don Simón Rodríguez, and not to destroy one another.[12] A society made up of equals, in which fairness reigns, in which justice reigns, in which peace and happiness and harmony reign. It’s possible, clearly it is! When we look at what happened today, in spite of the difficulties, when these times are behind us and we look back on the course of the last few years, a period in which we’ve progressed so much and come so far, with the great effort made by so many people. Look at that progress, evaluate it, and we’ll all see and we’ll all conclude that if that was possible, reconstructing Venezuela becomes more possible with each day that passes, as does making her great once again, making her beautiful once again, making her splendid once again, a place in which all live with dignity.

I wish to congratulate the Venezuelan people, you all, with all sincerity and profundity. The world now looks upon Venezuela, and the Venezuelan people have demonstrated just what they’re capable of. I’ve said it a million and one times, the Venezuelan people are capable of great things, of overcoming the greatest of difficulties put before them by history and life. The events of today are an example. The events of today are magnificent. The events of today are extraordinarily significant. We’ll overcome all difficulties, “with the help of God,” as my grandmother Rosa Inés would say, may she rest in peace, and with the united effort of all. I don’t have even the smallest doubt that we’ll build our country, this new Bolivarian Republic. I only ask that God give us life, that he give us courage, that he give us good health, and that he give us the clarity we’ll need for this course to not lose our way and to not squander that immense effort that’s cost so much during such a long period and for so many people.

Congratulations particularly to all of those who served as witnesses for the election tables, all of the young people, men and women, including students, in the rain since early this morning setting up tables. Congratulations to the soldiers and the officials of the Republic Plan who worked so hard, beyond what anyone would’ve thought possible, and alongside communities to overcome the many difficulties of today.[13] Congratulations to all of the members of the National Electoral Council for their tremendous demonstration of professionalism, quality and hard work today. Congratulations as well to all INDRA employees, the business that came, finally, and helped us leave behind those elections past in which the horrible slogan, “the record kills the vote” reigned, back when you’d get up the next morning, and sometimes votes had been lost, or entire ballot boxes or tally sheets, and a terrible anguish reigned.[14] The entire world was working to ensure that elections weren’t stolen. That has ended, passed into history, part of the terrible Punto Fijo Pact.

Elections have now become faster, transparent, with unquestionable results. My thanks as well to our international observers. This morning, I was talking with a group of them here from various countries of the Americas, who are sharing with our people and with us this glorious day, beautiful, so beautiful, but also so painful and sad. They’ve shared so much with us and helped us immensely by demonstrating the good standing of this beautiful electoral process to the world, of this second referendum that we today carried out, the second in our entire national history.

Compatriots, here is the new Constitution. I saw some of the questions that Venezuelans were asking on television, like, “What’s going to happen now? What’re we going to do now?” Well, put simply, this party represents the birth of a new Bolivarian Venezuela. In a short amount of time, the National Constitutional Assembly, and my warmest wishes to all of its members, to Don Luis Miquilena, to Aristóbulo Istúriz, Isaías Rodríguez, its leadership and to all constituents, congratulations! We did it! We did it! You all, legitimately elected by the people, were able to write this wonder of a Constitution in one hundred days, taking all of the ideas and criticisms, confronting a Hydra with one thousands heads. Here’s the result, the first Constitution in Venezuelan history approved in referendum.

Let’s remember, for those out there who’ll say tomorrow or later this evening that the Bolivarian Constitution was approved by only three million Venezuelans. Well, compare it with the 1961 constitution, the one that’s dead now.[15] It’s dead, may it rest in peace. That constitution was approved by 130 to 140 people locked away inside of the Capitolio, adecos and copeyanos, the Punto Fijo Pact.[16] They didn’t ask anyone’s opinion or participate in any sort of debate. The Adecos didn’t ask anyone’s opinion back in 1946-1947 either, when they wrote the constitution that was the result of a coup d’état against General Isaías Medina Angarita.[17] This is the first constitution that’s been submitted to the public for wide, open and democratic discussion, now approved by seventy-one percent of the Venezuelans who got out and voted despite the many difficulties of the day.

As I said, within a few days the National Constitutional Assembly should meet in a session to officially announce the new Venezuelan Constitution. Congratulations to you all, members of the National Constitutional Assembly! Once the Assembly has officially made that announcement, the Constitution will come out in the Official Gazette immediately, and in any case, the Constitution takes effect starting today, just that formality remains.[18] The 1961 Constitution of the Punto Fijo Pact is no longer in effect. We’ll now confront the tasks to come, fundamentally in the area of politics. Up to this point—finally, my goodness!—the National Congress has functioned. It’s not that the members of Congress were bad. It’s that Venezuela’s Congress had deteriorated into an array of things that didn’t function.

Now, the Constitutional Assembly should enact constitutional laws for assuming legislative functions, and next year we’ll have to elect the Unicameral National Assembly referenced in the new Constitution. We’ll also have to designate a Vice President of the Republic. We’ll have to consider re-legitimizing the powers of the President of the Republic, along with governors and mayors. You’ll see how moving forward from the approval of the new Constitution today, things will change within a very short period of time. The national political map will change, and the new national, political structure will begin to be constructed shortly thereafter.

We must also transform the judicial powers now in the hands of the Supreme Court of Justice, one of the areas of the political system that deteriorated the most during the last forty years. You’ve seen how in barely the first phase carried out by the Judicial Emergency Commission, directed by my good friend, Dr. Manuel Quijada, a great number of judges have been removed from office, some of them with incalculable fortunes from who knows where.[19] When have so many judges been removed from office at such a magnitude before? When has this ever been done before? Never, only now, and we’ll do so now with the greatest of precision! We’ll do so now with the greatest of speed and above all else, with a profound legitimacy, now that our new Magna Carta, the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, has been approved!

The country will continue on its course. The economic project will continue on its course. We’re adjusting the economy. Two thousand will be a year in which we re-launch the Venezuelan economy, and there will be development, growth, and job creation. The new Constitution favors and extends the power of the government and the new State to drive the productivity of the national economy, a diversified economy, which favors micro-businesses, small businesses and medium businesses, the ones that generate jobs, an economy that improves workers’ incomes, growing little by little, and as a result, economically improves the country.

So, now is when our forward march begins, compatriots. Now is the time to build Venezuela. For that reason, and in order to confront those tasks that are now before us successfully, effectively, and with conviction and viability, we’re only missing union among the honest families of Venezuela.

As I did on the evening of December 6, 1998, upon hearing the results of the presidential elections that carried me here by the will of the Venezuelan people, just like that night when I directed myself to the country, calling for unity, harmony, and for us all to leave behind the differences resulting from the election season. Just like last year, differences of opinion arose, although in a much shorter period of time, the product of electoral debate, and that’s positive. It would so sad be if we all thought the same way. It would be so sad if there weren’t freedom of expression. It would be so sad if we didn’t have these very pedagogical debates. That’s why I call upon all Venezuelans, whatever their positions might be, even if they’re critical of what we’ve done, I’m here with open arms, with my hands extended, and most importantly, with a heart open and filled with faith, with optimism for the Venezuela that will be for everyone, for the Venezuela that we’ll build together.

I’ll remember, in closing, the Grand Marshal of Ayacucho, Antonio José de Sucre. When the Battle of Ayacucho had come to an end, a battle that took place during a December back in 1824, a long time ago now, on the Condorcunca hill, in Alto Peru.[20][21] The last great battle against the Spanish Empire, the battle that would definitively ensure the freedom of half a continent, South America, this Bolivarian continent. As Spanish officials and troops were yielding to Marshal Sucre, he gave them a lengthy speech, and he said, among other things, “Victors do not gain rights through victory, they instead gain obligations.” In approving the new Constitution, along with the victorious Venezuelan people of today, I accept my obligations. I have no right to hold anything against anyone, and I have no scores to settle, no matter the confrontations that took place earlier today. Tomorrow we’ll begin a new phase of union, reconstruction, hard word, good faith and good will.

On that occasion, Marshal Sucre also said, “Honor to the defeated and glory to the victor.” Glory to our brave people and honor to those who opposed the Constitution with a NO vote! But the defeated should also honor the glory of the victor. That’s the only way for us to be able to come together, that’s the only way for us be able to extend our hands to one another, that’s the only way, honoring the glories and glorifying the honor of the defeated and the victors. Because, in the end, there’s only one victor, the Venezuelan people. We’ve had a great triumph for all of Venezuela today, a democracy that brings people together, a democracy reclaimed through itself, a people who raised their flag with optimism despite their pain. Only in this way can our hearts beat as one for this country we all love so much, for this country that pains us so much, for this country that so deserves all of our the efforts. With courage the country will flourish and be, as Bolívar said, a country in which the people live with happiness, freely and with justice, with honor and dignity.

Today the Bolivarian Venezuela was born. Today the Constitution of the Republic of Venezuela was born. May God always bless the new Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and may God always and eternally bless the brave Venezuelan people! Have a very good night, and congratulations to all!


[1] For source text, see Chávez, “Discurso del presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frías, con motivo de la aprobación de la nueva constitución nacional.”

[2] The 1999 Constitution officially changed the name of Venezuela to the “Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.” See the 17th Temporary Provision of the “Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

[3] In the wake of a March 1812 earthquake that destroyed much of Caracas, Bolívar stated, “Si la naturaleza se opone, lucharemos contra ella y la haremos que nos obedezca.” See Larrazábal, La vida y correspondencia general del libertador Simón Bolívar, 108.

[4] In a February 9, 1825 letter to his close friend Francisco José de Paula Santandar, Bolívar wrote, “I am the man of difficulties, you are the man of law, and Sucre is the man of war.” See Lynch, Simón Bolívar A Life, 195.

[5] Antonio José de Sucre (1795-1830) was a close friend of Bolívar who fought in the wars for Latin American independence, receiving the title, Grand Marshal of Ayacucho after securing Peruvian independence with victories in Junín and Ayacucho in 1824. He was assassinated on June 4, 1830. See “Sucre, [Mariscal] Antonio José de,” 648‑649.

[6] Chávez often addressed and greeted supporters from the People’s Balcony of Miraflores Palace.

[7] El oráculo del guerrero or The Oracle of the Warrior, a short book by Lucas Estrella, was a favorite of Chávez’s at the time. In Hugo Chávez, Cristina Marcano and Alberto Barrera Tyszka note that the message of the book, according to Estrella, was that “the ego must occupy the place of least importance, and service to others, the most” (137). It contained such principles as “Warrior, when you win a battle, don’t lose time sheathing your sword, because tomorrow will only bring more battles” (trnsltd in Marcano and Barrera Tyszka 138).

[8] Chávez slightly misquotes Bolívar’s 1819 Angostura Address, in which the Libertador states, “El sistema de gobierno más perfecto es aquel que produce mayor suma de felicidad posible, mayor suma de seguridad social y mayor suma de estabilidad política.” See Bolívar, “Discurso de Angostura,” 27.

[9] Chávez’s “Plan Bolívar 2000” was his first Bolivarian Mission, in which 70,000 of Venezuela’s 120,000 soldiers were sent into communities to “repair roads and hospitals, conduct medical campaigns, clean up trash, and sell [food]… at rock-bottom prices” (Jones 231) The program launched on the tenth anniversary of the Caracazo riots, planned by Chávez to “redeem… the military” in the eyes of the people (231). The program was generally well received; however, reports of corruption circulated in the months following the program. See Jones, ¡Hugo! The Hugo Chávez Story from Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution, 231-233.

[10] Chávez quotes two of Bolívar’s texts here. In his famous Carta de Jamaica, Bolívar states, “Seguramente la unión es la que nos falta para completar la obra de nuestra generación.” See Bolívar, “Contestación de un americano meridional a un caballero de esta isla [Henry Cullen],” 85. The quote, “Unámonos y seremos invencibles,” originates from Bolívar’s January 10, 1817 “Oficio a Manuel Cedeño.”

[11] Ali Primera was a Venezuelan musician and political activist, and his music and work centered on issues like social inequality. Primera died in an accident on February 12, 1985. See “A 26 años de la muerto de Alí Primera, la voz de los oprimidos se sigue escuchando.”

[12] Simón Rodríguez is best known for tutoring Simón Bolívar. He was a great supporter of public education, successfully increasing the number of primary schools in Caracas in 1794. See “Rodríguez, Simón,” 603-604.

[13] A Republic Plan is carried out by the armed forces to support Venezuelan elections. During the course of elections, soldiers “provide security during the transportation, storage, and distribution of election materials” (5). See United States, “The ‘Nuts and Bolts’ of the Recall Petition Drives.”

[14] INDRA is a Spanish company that provides consulting and election management for countries throughout Latin American. Visit indracompany.com for more information on the company. According to Neuman and McCoy, the phrase “acta mata voto” [the record kills the vote] “refers to the widespread perception that AD and COPEI… would divide up the… votes received by smaller parties in order to maintain [their]… dominant position. The changed vote tally (acta) at a voting table, would thus “kill” the vote (mata voto).” See “Observing Political Change in Venezuela: The Bolivarian Constitution and 2000 Elections,” 22.

[15] The 1961 Constitution took effect on January 23, 1961. It limited the president to serving a single consecutive term, only being eligible for reelection after a period of 10 years. The constitution maintained the bicameral Congress, responsible for selecting judges for the Supreme Court. See “Constitution of 1961,” 201. According to Neuman and McCoy, “The major political changes from the 1961 constitution included immediate presidential reelection… and expansion of the presidential term from five to six years… It changed the Congress… to a unicameral National Assembly… [It also] widened… the public powers… from three to five…: executive, legislative, judicial, electoral, and citizens’ powers. Finally, it established “the possibility of popular referenda… [to] be called by the president or by 10 percent of… eligible voters signing petitions, with the power to revoke legislation and recall elected officials.” See Neuman and McCoy, “Observing Political Change in Venezuela: The Bolivarian Constitution and 2000 Elections,” 35-36.

[16] “Capitolio” is another name for the Federal Legislative Palace, the historic building in Caracas in which the National Assembly works.

[17] General Isaías Medina Angarita was President of Venezuela from 1941-1945. A group made up of members of the Armed Forces and Acción Democrática committed a coup against him in 1945. See “Medina Angarita, [General] Isaías,” 424.

[18] The Official Gazette is “the official newspaper of the Venezuelan government[,] which publishes new laws, agreements, appointments and other acts.” See Bercovitch, “Venezuela’s Official Gazette to be Redesigned and Digitalized.”

[19] The Constitutional Assembly declared a “judicial emergency” on August 19, and instituted a Judicial Emergency Commission, whose task was the reform of a notoriously corrupt judicial branch. Jones notes the extent of the commission’s reach: it had the “power to suspend or dismiss nearly half the country’s forty-seven hundred judges, clerks, and bailiffs because of pending accusations of corruption, incompetence, or other regularities. Even Supreme Court justices could be removed.” See Jones, ¡Hugo! The Hugo Chávez Story from Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution, 241.

[20] The patriot army, led by Antonio José de Sucre, won a decisive victory against Spanish forces in the Battle of Ayacucho, generally regarded as the last great battle for Latin American independence. See Lynch, Simón Bolívar: A Life, 193-194.

[21] Alto Peru was the territory comprised of current day Bolivia. For discussion on its formation, see Lynch, Simón Bolívar: A Life, 197-199.