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Boliburguesía (English: Bolibourgeoisie, a portmanteau of the words Bolivarian and Bourgeoisie) is a term describing the new bourgeois created by the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chávez and Chavismo, made up of people who became rich under the Chavez administration.[1][2] The term was coined by journalist Juan Carlos Zapata, to "define the oligarchy that has developed under the protection of the Chavez government".[3]

Corruption among the Boliburguesía and Chavez-administration sympathizers has moved millions of dollars with the complicity of public officials, with some becoming rich under the guise of socialism.[4][5] The general secretary of opposition party Acción Democrática says that corruption in the financial industry[5] and other sectors[6] was tied to functionaries of the administration.[5]


During Hugo Chávez's tenure, he seized thousands of properties and businesses while also reducing the footprint of foreign companies.[7] Venezuela's economy was then largely state-run and was operated by military officers that had their business and government affairs connected.[7] Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Harold Trinkunas, stated that involving the military in business was "a danger", with Trinkunas explaining that the Venezuelan military "has the greatest ability to coerce people, into business like they have".[7] According to Bloomberg Business, "[b]y showering contracts on former military officials and pro-government business executives, Chavez put a new face on the system of patronage".[7]


Government officials[edit]

Alejandro Andrade who was appointed Minister of Finance by President Chávez was accused of using public funds by opposition deputy Ismael García and was described as participating in a "network of corruption" by the United States Department of State. Andrade travels to the United States through a private Learjet 45 worth $10 million that is registered in Delaware.[8] He had invested in horses for show jumping, having a horse farm attributed to Andrade's firm in South Carolina. Alejandro's son, Emanuel, was also sponsored by his father and is a decorated show jumping jockey and own multiple horses that are worth up to millions of dollars and studs that can earn profits from breeding.[8][9] Andrade also hired a public relations firm, Starting Gate Communications, an organization that specializes in equestrian activities for his son.[8]

The brother of PSUV politician Jesse Chacón, Arné Chacón, established a stable in Florida called Gadu Racing Stable Corp. and had horses compete in races in the United States until he was arrested in 2009. Brother of Ronald Sanchez the National Superintendent of Securities of Venezuela, Tomás Sánchez had a second stable, Rontos Racing Stable Corp., created that was signed by the same Gadu agent two months later. Ronald Sanchez was also accused of being involved in an extortion scandal in Miami by Venezuelan banker, Thomas Vasquez, in a testimony involving the case.[8] The Rontos Racing Stable Corp. also own an apartment in the Trump Towers Miami building that was quoted at $625,000 in 2011.[8][10]

Business executives[edit]

Ricardo Fernandez Barrueco, was a "modest business entrepreneur" in Caracas until he helped Chávez circumvent oil strikes initiated in 2002. In less than ten years, he had gained a net worth of $1.6 billion and created a combination of about 70 companies. He owned businesses in Panama, Ecuador and the United States and in 2008, he bought multiple financials institutions. In Miami, Fernandez bought a luxury apartment in the Jade at Brickell Bay, a home to many celebrities. In late 2009, Fernandez was arrested in Venezuela for unknown reasons and had his companies nationalized by President Chávez. He was released from prison in May 2014.[8]

Víctor Vargas Irausquín is a Venezuelan banker who assisted the Chávez administration raise funds to finance Venezuela's budget. According to the United States Department of State, with Vargas' assistance of the Venezuelan government with funds, he was "said to have made a profit of those negotiations" and was described as "a banker whose star has risen greatly during the Chávez presidency". Vargas was also assisted by the Venezuelan government for abiding by their policies during Venezuelan banking crisis of 2009–10, when more than a half-dozen private banking institutions were closed.[8]

The Chávez family[edit]

Members of the Chávez family live in a suburb of Barinas, Hugo Chávez's birthplace, occupying a mansion that is enclosed off from the public by walls topped with razor wire.[11] Asdrubal Chávez, Hugo Chávez's cousin, is vice president of production and trade of PDVSA and is in charge of the majority of oil contracts. Chávez's brothers also hold positions in the Venezuelan government. Argenisis is the president of the state-run energy company CORPOELEC and Hannibal is the mayor of Sabaneta. In 2004, the Drug Enforcement Administration estimates showed that the family was possibly worth $140 million. In 2013, it was estimated that the Chávez family had liquid assets of about $550 million in multiple international bank accounts.[11]

Though Hugo Chávez denounced hypocritical socialists and criticized those who bought luxury vehicles such as Hummers, he and his family acquired multiple vehicles during his presidency,[12][13] including aircraft such as the Bombardier Challenger 605 and Gulfstream G550[14] and automobiles like the Bentley Mulsanne and Chevrolet LUV D-Max, as well as multiple Hummers and Mercedes-Benz vehicles.[15]

It is estimated that the Chávez family owns 17 estates totaling more than 100,000 acres.[11] Each estate cost between $400,000 and $ 700,000, with the estates having their own roads. According to state legislator and Chávez critic, Wilmer Azuaje, members of Chávez's family live in mansions in Alto Barinas and children of the family have their own waiting staff in their school's dining hall.[11]


Cell phones made of precious metals and decorated with gems are reportedly popular among the boliburgueses.

In Florida, boliburgueses are favored clients of real estate businesses, private jet companies, luxury car dealers, fine horse breeders and luxury stores.[8] According to a business owner of a electronics store at the Bal Harbour Shops of Miami Beach, the success of selling luxury electronics made of valuable metals and gems is attributed to boliburgueses, with some buying gold iPads and gold cellular phones priced between $8,000 and $45,000.[8]

Boliburgueses had also bought luxury automobiles from foreign countries, including luxury Hummer SUVs and Rolls Royce cars.[13]

The scandal known as the Maletinazo also generated criticism, in which the government of Hugo Chávez was alleged to be sending state oil money from PDVSA to finance the political campaign of now president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina.[16]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]


  1. ^ (Spanish) Valery, Yolanda (2 December 2009). "Boliburguesía: nueva clase venezolana". BBC Mundo. Retrieved 15 August 2010. 
  2. ^ Romero, Simon (16 February 2010). "Purging Loyalists, Chávez Tightens His Inner Circle". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ (Spanish) "Auge y caída de un boliburgués". 24 November 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2010. La boliburguesía –un término acuñado por el periodista Juan Carlos Zapata para definir a la oligarquía que ha crecido bajo protección del gobierno chavista– consituye hoy una "nueva clase social" de empresarios y políticos que se han servido de la falta de control del Parlamento, Fiscalía y Contraloría, para enriquecerse y hacer toda suerte de negocios, algunas veces de dudosa solvencia moral 
  4. ^ (Spanish) "Henry Ramos Allup: Corrupción millonaria de boliburguesía con la complicidad de funcionarios". 1 November 2009. Retrieved 15 August 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c (Spanish) "Henry Ramos: Sin "bolifuncionarios" no habría "boliburguesía"". El Nacional. 30 November 2009. 
  6. ^ (Spanish) "Ramos Allup denunció a 11 empresarios pertenecientes "boliburguesía". Globovision. 30 November 2009. 
  7. ^ a b c d Smith, Michael; Kurmanaev, Anatoly (12 August 2014). "Venezuela Sees Chavez Friends Rich After His Death Amid Poverty". Bloomberg Business. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Reyes, Gerardo; Ocando, Cato (4 August 2013). "Boliburgueses y el encanto del Imperio". Univision. Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "EMANUEL ANDRADE". Starting Gate Communications. Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  11. ^ a b c d Baverstock, Alasdair; Foster, Peter (14 April 2013). "Venezuela: the wealth of Chavez family exposed". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  12. ^ Romero, Simon (30 October 2007). "Venezuela’s Gas Prices Remain Low, but the Political Costs May Be Rising". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  13. ^ a b (Spanish) "'Llegó el Presidente y mandó a parar'". 10 October 2007. 
  14. ^ "Hugo Chavez had a millionaire empire". Univision. 5 March 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  15. ^ Rueda, Alfredo. "Los coches de Hugo Chávez". Auto Bild. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  16. ^