Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution
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The authoritative first-hand account of contemporary Venezuela, Hugo Chávez places the country’s controversial and charismatic president in historical perspective, and examines his plans and programs. Welcomed in 1999 by the inhabitants of the teeming shanty towns of Caracas as their potential savior, and greeted by Washington with considerable alarm, this former golpista-turned-democrat took up the aims and ambitions of Venezuela’s liberator, Simón Bolívar. Now in office for over a decade, President Chávez has undertaken the most wide-ranging transformation of oil-rich Venezuela for half a century, and dramatically affected the political debate throughout Latin America.
In this updated edition, Richard Gott reflects on the achievements of the Bolivarian revolution, and the challenges that lie ahead.
The government, for its part, insisted that there had been widespread fraud. The National Electoral Council (CNE) took note of their claim, and began an intense scrutiny of the signature lists. After much argument, the CNE pronounced that only 1,911,000 signatures were legitimate. Of the rest, 375,000 were judged to be invalid, and 1,200,000 were considered to be of doubtful legitimacy. To achieve the 20 per cent figure required for the recall referendum, some 525,000 of the ‘doubtful’ signatures
on our side, especially, my dear friends, that 60 per cent of Venezuelans – this is something else you are not going to believe – who live in a critical state of poverty. ‘It’s unbelievable, but it’s true: in twenty years in Venezuela more than $200 thousand million just evaporated. So, where is the money? President Castro asked me. In the foreign bank accounts of almost everyone who has been in power in Venezuela, civilians and soldiers, who filled their pockets, protected by the power they
At the turn of the century in Caracas, after an outside concert by the band, the European-oriented Venezuelan gentry would repair for a social cup of chocolate, then one of the country’s chief products, to ‘La India’, the Caracas equivalent of Sacher’s or Demmel’s in Vienna. Nowadays ‘La India’ is a company, not a coffee house, the Venezuelan subsidiary of the General Foods Corporation, a powerful United States transnational company. Its manager, Bill MacClarence, is a graduate of the Harvard
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lack of financial control of wealthy states outside the continent. Lula had long been a regular and much soughtafter visitor to Davos, but this time he avoided the Swiss Alps to take up his position alongside Chávez as a leader of the progressive forces of Latin America. He reflected on the extraordinary changes taking place in Latin America, and he praised the way in which people had chosen suitable presidents to confront the crisis. ‘We were not put here by the local elites or the Pentagon’,