THE CONSTITUTION OF THE
BOLIVARIAN REPUBLIC OF VENEZUELA
The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was drafted in mid-1999 by a constitutional assembly that was created by popular referendum. This 1999 Constitution was adopted in December 1999, replacing the 1961 Constitution. It was primarily promoted by the current President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez and thereafter received strong backing from diverse sectors, including figures involved in promulgating the 1961 constitution such as Luis Miquilena and Carlos Andrés Pérez. This constitution is referred to as the "Constitución Bolivariana" (the "Bolivarian Constitution") because it is descended ideologically from the thinking and political philosophy of Simón Bolívar and Bolivarianism.
The Constitution of 1999 was the first constitution ever approved by popular referendum in Venezuelan history, and summarily inaugurated the "Fifth Republic" of Venezuela due to the socioeconomic changes foretold in its pages, as well as the official change in Venezuela's name from the República de Venezuela ("Republic of Venezuela") to the República Bolivariana de Venezuela ("Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela"). Major changes are made to the structure of Venezuela's government and responsibilities, while a much greater number of human rights are enshrined in the document as guaranteed to all Venezuelans – including free education up to tertiary level, free quality health care, access to a clean environment, right of minorities (especially indigenous peoples) to uphold their own traditional cultures, religions, and languages, among others. The 1999 Constitution, with 350 articles, is among the longest and most comprehensive constitutions in the world.1