Bolivarian Circles

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The Bolivarian Circles (Spanish: Círculos bolivarianos) are a loosely-knit political and social organization of workers' councils in Venezuela originally begun by President Hugo Chávez in 2001. They are named in honor of Simón Bolívar, the leader who transformed most of South America from Spanish colonial outposts to the independent states now in place.[1] Their significance to Venezuelan politics has trailed off significantly since 2003, as most circles have effectively disbanded. Since then the government has sponsored the creation of Community Planning Councils, which evolved into the Communal Councils, now considered the base of the participatory democracy.

Internal structure[edit]

Chávez organized these circles, which he cites as examples of grassroots and participatory democracy. The circles themselves were purportedly decentralized, made autonomous from any central government oversight, and instead organized on the neighborhood and block level.[citation needed] In 2001, however, Chávez authorized then-Vice President Diosdado Cabello to financially support them, which makes Chávez's opponents skeptical of any claims of autonomy.[2]


Improvement projects undertaken by Bolivarian Circles include health, public transportation, and urban clean-ups. [3]

Prior to 2003, the circles took part in various protests against the political opposition. In January 2002, Bolivarian Circles were reported to have blocked the entrance of the newspaper office El Nacional for over an hour. Numerous journalists have been threatened, berated, and abused physically and verbally, particularly by people that identified with the Bolivarian Circles. Bolivian Circles also took part in demonstrations which partly became violent against the 2002 coup attempt.[1]

Outside Venezuela[edit]

Pro-Chávez Bolivarian circles exist in other countries and are widespread in Europe, North America and Australia.[4]


In 2001, Chávez swore in all official Bolivarian Circles at the first national reunion under the following oath, which was adapted from Bolívar's own oath on the hill of Monte Sacro in 1805:

I swear in front of you, for the God of my parents; I swear for them. I swear for my honor and for my motherland that I will not rest my arms nor my soul until we have broken, finally, the chains that oppress Venezuela as an inheritance of the powerful who destroyed the motherland. I swear that I will completely dedicate my work to the Bolivarian ideology, to the popular organization, to popular mobilization, to popular power, to never abandon the struggle; every day and every night that I have left with the Bolivarian circles in the Bolivarian web, in the Bolivarian current, in the Bolivarian forces and in the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement 200 that today is born again after 19 years, by the will of the Venezuelan people. I swear that I will fight without rest for the defense of the revolution, even if I have to sacrifice my life, for the glory of Venezuela. I swear that we will consolidate forever the Bolivarian revolution and the motherland of our children. I swear.[5]

Bolivarian Youth[edit]

The Bolivarian Youth is a revolutionary anticapitalist youth organization inspired by the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. The Bolivarian Youth was founded in Miami by young socialists with the aim of defending the revolutionary process in Latin America and spread the cause of socialism in the United States. Its main purpose is to educate and mobilize revolutionary minded young people. Just like the circles the Bolivarian Youth movement has grown widespread in South and North America, Europe and Australia. These groups are usually born from local Bolivarian Circles except in Colombia where they are mainly established and managed by the FARC-EP.[6]


According to a study by Brigham Young University scholars, the "Bolivarian circles" also help the government identify opponents, who are then denied services.[7]


  1. ^ a b UNHCR
  2. ^ Morsbach, Greg. (BBC, 12 Jun 2002). "Chavez accused of fostering militia links". Retrieved 13 Jun 2006.
  3. ^ Sanchez, Alvaro ("Venezuela Analysis," 30 Sep 2003). "Bolivarian Circles: A Grassroots Movement". Retrieved 14 Nov 2005.
  4. ^ [1] Bolivarian Circles in Australia
  5. ^ A version of Bolívar's oath had also been used by Chávez at the foundation of the "Ejército de Liberación del Pueblo de Venezuela" on 17 December 1982. See
  6. ^ Bolivarian Youth in Colombia established by the FARC
  7. ^ Dependent Civil: Society: The Círculos Bolivarianos in Venezuela, Kirk A. Hawkins Brigham Young UniversityDavid R. Hansen Brigham Young University found at, Wall Street Journal (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: 16 Jun 2006. p. A1.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]