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Historically, there has been no universally accepted definition as to the proper use of the terms Bolivarianism and Bolivarian within all the countries in the region. Many different leaders, movements and parties have indistinctly used them to describe themselves throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries.
People who have called themselves bolivarianos claim to follow the general ideology expressed in Bolivar's texts such as the Carta de Jamaica and the Discurso de Angostura. Some of Bolivar's ideas include forming a union of Latin American countries, providing public education, and enforcing sovereignty to fight against foreign invasion, which has been interpreted to include economic domination by foreign powers. An example of such a union was Gran Colombia, a block of countries consisting of Venezuela, Colombia, Panamá, and Ecuador.
In recent years, its most significant political manifestation is in the government of Venezuela's president Hugo Chávez, who since the beginning of his presidency has called himself a bolivarian and applied several of Bolivar's ideals to everyday affairs. That included the 1999 Constitution , which changed Venezuela's name to República Bolivariana de Venezuela, and other ideas such as the Bolivarian Schools and the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela. Often, the term Bolivarianism is used specifically to refer to Chávez's rule.
The Colombian insurgent group FARC has, in recent years, also considered itself to be inspired by Bolivar's ideals and by his role in the 19th century independence struggle against Spain. It has also publicly declared its sympathy towards Hugo Chávez and his Bolivarian Revolution, both of which have officially tended to reject such gestures, despite accusations to the contrary. It is known that some individual Venezuelan bolivarianos do actively sympathize with the FARC in return, but it is not an automatic nor common occurrence.
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