Murder, street brawls, marital squabbles, infidelity, official corruption, public insults, and rebellion are just a few of the social layers Reuben Zahler investigates as he studies the dramatic shifts in Venezuela as it transformed from a Spanish colony to a modern republic. His book Ambitious Rebels illuminates the enormous changes in honor, law, and political culture that occurred and how ordinary men and women promoted or rejected those changes.
In a highly engaging style, Zahler examines gender and class against the backdrop of Venezuelan institutions and culture during the late colonial period through post-independence (known as the “middle period”). His fine-grained analysis shows that liberal ideals permeated the elite and popular classes to a substantial degree while Venezuelan institutions enjoyed impressive levels of success. Showing remarkable ambition, Venezuela’s leaders aspired to transform a colony that adhered to the king, the church, and tradition into a liberal republic with minimal state intervention, a capitalistic economy, freedom of expression and religion, and an elected, representative government.
Subtle but surprisingly profound changes of a liberal nature occurred, as evidenced by evolving standards of honor, appropriate gender roles, class and race relations, official conduct, courtroom evidence, press coverage, economic behavior, and church-state relations. This analysis of the philosophy of the elites and the daily lives of common men and women reveals in particular the unwritten, unofficial norms that lacked legal sanction but still greatly affected political structures.
Relying on extensive archival resources, Zahler focuses on Venezuela but provides a broader perspective on Latin American history. His examination provides a comprehensive look at intellectual exchange across the Atlantic, comparative conditions throughout the Americas, and the tension between traditional norms and new liberal standards in a postcolonial society.
Venezuela's most prominent community television station, Catia TVe, was launched in 2000 by activists from the barrios of Caracas. Run on the principle that state resources should serve as a weapon of the poor to advance revolutionary social change, the station covered everything from Hugo Chávez’s speeches to barrio residents' complaints about bureaucratic mismanagement. In Channeling the State, Naomi Schiller explores how and why Catia TVe's founders embraced alliances with Venezuelan state officials and institutions. Drawing on long-term ethnographic research among the station's participants, Schiller shows how community television production created unique openings for Caracas's urban poor to embrace the state as a collective process with transformative potential. Rather than an unchangeable entity built for the exercise of elite power, the state emerges in Schiller's analysis as an uneven, variable process and a contentious terrain where institutions are continuously made and remade. In Venezuela under Chávez, media activists from poor communities did not assert their autonomy from the state but rather forged ties with the middle class to question whose state they were constructing and who it represented.
This study views the economic transformation of Duaca, Venezuela into a major coffee export center in the late nineteenth century. Yarrington examines the rise of the peasantry to prosperity, yet they later lost their stature as the local elite allied itself with the state to restructure society and coffee production on its own terms in the twentieth-century. The book is a pioneering study on peasant studies, export-led development, the relationship of state and society, and the consolidation of nation-states in Latin America.
This special issue employs the tools of history, anthropology and ethnology to address the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized in Venezuela. It examines various aspects of the Venezuelan oral-based cultures—including religion, gender, and trade—and argue that the indigenous and black populations were never "cultural islands"—neither before nor after European penetration. "Colonial Transformations in Venezuela" also provides a much-needed ethnohistorical approach to tropical Amazonia in general. In light of current debates over the nature of the colonial occupation and the ecological potential of the tropical forest as a site for human complexity and development, the papers gathered in this special issue bring new kinds of arguments and important new data to these issues. The articles also indicate important new lines of research for the understanding of native histories in a modern age of global connections.
Contributors include Rodrigo Navarrete, H. Dieter Heinen. Alvaro Garcia-Castro, Rafael A. Gassón, Silvia M. Vidal, Lilliam Arvelo, Franz Scaramelli, Kay Tarble, and Nelly Arvelo-Jiménez
No president today is more controversial than Venezuela's Hugo Chávez Frías. Elected in a landslide in 1998, he promised a peaceful revolution. That peaceful dream became a nightmare when Chávez was overthrown in a coup d'état in 2002. Surprisingly, he was brought back to power by his supporters, mostly barrio dwellers, within forty-eight hours. Although Chávez continues to be dogged by controversy, he stays in power because of these supporters who see themselves as active participants in a democratic revolution.
As a former Catholic priest who has lived in Venezuela for the past twenty years and spent eight of those years in a cardboard-and-tin shack in one of Caracas' barrios, Charles Hardy is in a unique position to explain what is taking place. Cowboy in Caracas: A North American's Memoir of Venezuela's Democratic Revolution gives the reader insight into the Venezuelan reality, using an anecdotal presentation drawn from the writer's personal experiences.
Since 2006, Venezuela has had the highest homicide rate in South America and one of the highest levels of gun violence in the world. Former president Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013, downplayed the extent of violent crime and instead emphasized rehabilitation. His successor, President Nicolás Maduro, took the opposite approach, declaring an all-out war on crime (mano dura). What accounts for this drastic shift toward more punitive measures?
In Deadline, anthropologist Robert Samet answers this question by focusing on the relationship between populism, the press, and what he calls “the will to security.” Drawing on nearly a decade of ethnographic research alongside journalists on the Caracas crime beat, he shows how the media shaped the politics of security from the ground up. Paradoxically, Venezuela’s punitive turn was not the product of dictatorship, but rather an outgrowth of practices and institutions normally associated with democracy. Samet reckons with this apparent contradiction by exploring the circulation of extralegal denuncias (accusations) by crime journalists, editors, sources, and audiences. Denuncias are a form of public shaming or exposé that channels popular anger against the powers that be. By showing how denuncias mobilize dissent, Deadline weaves a much larger tale about the relationship between the press, popular outrage, and the politics of security in the twenty-first century.
Is socialism dead since the fall of the Soviet Union? What is the way forward for the Left? D. L. Raby argues that Cuba and, above all, Venezuela provide inspiration for antiglobalization and anticapitalist movements across the world. Another World Is Possible, but only through an effective political strategy to win power on a popular and democratic basis.
Raby argues passionately that the way forward for progressives is not the dogmatic formulae of the Old Left, nor in the spontaneous autonomism of Antonio Negri. Instead, it is to be found in broad popular movements with bold leadership. Examining key leaders, including Hugo Chávez and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, Raby shows that it is more necessary than ever to take power, peacefully where possible, but in all cases with the strength that comes from popular unity backed by force where necessary. In this way it is possible to build democratic power, which may or may not be socialist depending on one's definition, but which represent the real anti-capitalist alternative for the twenty-first century.
Doña Barbara: A Novel
Rómulo Gallegos University of Chicago Press, 2012 Library of Congress PQ8549.G24D613 2012 | Dewey Decimal 863.62
Rómulo Gallegos is best known for being Venezuela’s first democratically elected president. But in his native land he is equally famous as a writer responsible for one of Venezuela’s literary treasures, the novel Doña Barbara. Published in 1929 and all but forgotten by Anglophone readers, Doña Barbara is one of the first examples of magical realism, laying the groundwork for later authors such as Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa.
Following the epic struggle between two cousins for an estate in Venezuela, Doña Barbara is an examination of the conflict between town and country, violence and intellect, male and female. Doña Barbara is a beautiful and mysterious woman—rumored to be a witch—with a ferocious power over men. When her cousin Santos Luzardo returns to the plains in order to reclaim his land and cattle, he reluctantly faces off against Doña Barbara, and their battle becomes simultaneously one of violence and seduction. All of the action is set against the stunning backdrop of the Venezuelan prairie, described in loving detail. Gallegos’s plains are filled with dangerous ranchers, intrepid cowboys, and damsels in distress, all broadly and vividly drawn. A masterful novel with an important role in the inception of magical realism, Doña Barbara is a suspenseful tale that blends fantasy, adventure, and romance.
Hailed as “the Bovary of the llano” by Larry McMurtry in his new foreword to this book, Doña Barbarais a magnetic and memorable heroine, who has inspired numerous adaptations on the big and small screens, including a recent television show that aired on Telemundo.
Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez was the first anti-neoliberal presidential candidate to win in the region. Electing Chávez examines the circumstances that facilitated this pivotal election. By 1998, Venezuela had been rocked by two major scandals—the exchange rate incidents of the 1980s and the banking crisis of 1994—and had suffered rising social inequality. These events created a deep-seated distrust of establishment politicians. Chávez’s 1998 victory, however, was far from inevitable. Other presidential candidates also stood against corruption and promised a clean break from politics as usual. Moreover, business opposition to Chávez’s anti-neoliberal candidacy should have convinced voters that his victory would provoke a downward economic spiral.
In Electing Chávez, Leslie C. Gates examines how Chávez won over voters and even obtained the secret allegiance of a group of business “elite outliers,” with a reinterpretation of the relationship between business and the state during Venezuela’s era of two-party dominance (1959-1998). Through extensive research on corruption and the backgrounds of political leaders.
Gates tracks the rise of business-related corruption scandals and documents how business became identified with Venezuela’s political establishment. These trends undermined the public’s trust in business and converted business opposition into an asset for Chávez. This long history of business-tied politicians and the scandals they often provoked also framed the decisions of elite outliers. As Gates reveals, elite outliers supported Chávez despite his anti-neoliberal stance because they feared that the success of Chávez’s main rival would deny them access to Venezuela’s powerful oil state.
Oil has played a major role in Venezuela’s economy since the first gusher was discovered along Lake Maracaibo in 1922. As Miguel Tinker Salas demonstrates, oil has also transformed the country’s social, cultural, and political landscapes. In The Enduring Legacy, Tinker Salas traces the history of the oil industry’s rise in Venezuela from the beginning of the twentieth century, paying particular attention to the experiences and perceptions of industry employees, both foreign and Venezuelan. He reveals how class ambitions and corporate interests combined to reshape many Venezuelans’ ideas of citizenship. Middle-class Venezuelans embraced the oil industry from the start, anticipating that it would transform the country by introducing modern technology, sparking economic development, and breaking the landed elites’ stranglehold. Eventually Venezuelan employees of the industry found that their benefits, including relatively high salaries, fueled loyalty to the oil companies. That loyalty sometimes trumped allegiance to the nation-state.
North American and British petroleum companies, seeking to maintain their stakes in Venezuela, promoted the idea that their interests were synonymous with national development. They set up oil camps—residential communities to house their workers—that brought Venezuelan employees together with workers from the United States and Britain, and eventually with Chinese, West Indian, and Mexican migrants as well. Through the camps, the companies offered not just housing but also schooling, leisure activities, and acculturation into a structured, corporate way of life. Tinker Salas contends that these practices shaped the heart and soul of generations of Venezuelans whom the industry provided with access to a middle-class lifestyle. His interest in how oil suffused the consciousness of Venezuela is personal: Tinker Salas was born and raised in one of its oil camps.
Based on three extensive surveys carried out by research teams from Caracas, Mexico City, and Santiago, In Search of a Home investigates the nature of owners, tenants, sharers, and landlords and exploring the relationships between them.
Sometimes referred to as the first published manual of guerrilla warfare, Bernardo de Vargas Machuca’s Indian Militia and Description of the Indies is actually the first known manual of counterinsurgency, or anti-guerrilla warfare. Published in Madrid in 1599 by a Spanish-born soldier of fortune with long experience in the Americas, the book is a training manual for conquistadors. The Aztec and Inca Empires had long since fallen by 1599, but Vargas Machuca argued that many more Native American peoples remained to be conquered and converted to Roman Catholicism. What makes his often shrill and self-righteous treatise surprising is his consistent praise of indigenous resistance techniques and medicinal practices.
Containing advice on curing rattlesnake bites with amethysts and making saltpeter for gunpowder from concentrated human urine, The Indian Militia is a manual in four parts, the first of which outlines the ideal qualities of the militia commander. Addressing the organization and outfitting of conquest expeditions, Book Two includes extended discussions of arms and medicine. Book Three covers the proper behavior of soldiers, providing advice on marching through peaceful and bellicose territories, crossing rivers, bivouacking in foul weather, and carrying out night raids and ambushes. Book Four deals with peacemaking, town-founding, and the proper treatment of conquered peoples. Appended to these four sections is a brief geographical description of all of Spanish America, with special emphasis on the indigenous peoples of New Granada (roughly modern-day Colombia), followed by a short guide to the southern coasts and heavens. This first English-language edition of The Indian Militia includes an extensive introduction, a posthumous report on Vargas Machuca’s military service, and a selection from his unpublished attack on the writings of Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas.
The Wakuenai of the upper Rio Negro region in southern Venezuela employ a form of singing called malikai for ceremonies of childbirth, initiation, and healing. This ritual chanting is a rich amalgam of myth and music, and serves as a means of integrating individuals into a vertical hierarchy of power relations between mythic ancestors and human descendants. Jonathan Hill here shows how the musical and semantic transformations of everyday discourse in malikai integrate the everyday world into a poetic process of empowerment.
Made-from-Bone provides the first complete set of English translations of narratives about the mythic past and its transformations from the indigenous Arawak-speaking Wakuénai of southernmost Venezuela. The central character throughout these primordial times is a trickster-creator, Made-from-Bone, who survives a prolonged series of life-threatening attacks. Carefully recorded and transcribed by Jonathan D. Hill, these narratives offer scholars of South America and other areas the only ethnographically generated cosmogony of contemporary or ancient native peoples of South America.
In 1935, after the death of dictator General Juan Vicente Gómez, Venezuela consolidated its position as the world's major oil exporter and began to establish what today is South America's longest-lasting democratic regime. Endowed with the power of state oil wealth, successive presidents appeared as transcendent figures who could magically transform Venezuela into a modern nation. During the 1974-78 oil boom, dazzling development projects promised finally to effect this transformation. Yet now the state must struggle to appease its foreign creditors, counter a declining economy, and contain a discontented citizenry. In critical dialogue with contemporary social theory, Fernando Coronil examines key transformations in Venezuela's polity, culture, and economy, recasting theories of development and highlighting the relevance of these processes for other postcolonial nations. The result is a timely and compelling historical ethnography of political power at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary reflections on modernity and the state.
For much of the twentieth century, unions played a vital role in shaping political regimes and economic development strategies, particularly in Latin America and Europe. However, their influence has waned as political parties with close ties to unions have adopted neoliberal reforms harmful to the interests of workers.
What do unions do when confronted with this “loyalty dilemma”? Katrina Burgess compares events in three countries to determine the reasons for widely divergent responses on the part of labor leaders to remarkably similar challenges. She argues that the key to understanding why some labor leaders protest and some acquiesce lies essentially in two domains: the relative power of the party and the workers to punish them, and the party's capacity to act autonomously from its own government.
Populism and Performance in the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela explains how supporters of the emergent socialism of Hugo Chávez negotiated terms of national belonging and participatory democracy through performance. By foregrounding populism as an embodied act, Angela Marino draws attention to repertoires of populism that contributed to what is arguably the most significant social movement in the Americas since the Cuban Revolution.
Based on ethnographic and archival research, Marino focuses on performances of the devil figure, tracing this beloved trickster through religious fiestas, mid-century theater and film, and other media as it both antagonizes and unifies a movement against dictatorship and neoliberalism. She then demonstrates that performance became a vehicle through which cultural producers negotiated boundaries of inclusion and exclusion in ways that overcame the simplistic logic of good versus evil, us versus them. The result is a nuanced insight into the process of building political mobilization out of crisis and through monumental times of change.
The book will interest readers of Latin American politics, cultural studies, political science, and performance studies by providing a vital record of the revolution, with valuable insights into its internal dynamics and lessons towards building a populist movement of the left in contentious times.
Queen for a Day connects the logic of Venezuelan modernity with the production of a national femininity. In this ethnography, Marcia Ochoa considers how femininities are produced, performed, and consumed in the mass-media spectacles of international beauty pageants, on the runways of the Miss Venezuela contest, on the well-traveled Caracas avenue where transgender women (transformistas) project themselves into the urban imaginary, and on the bodies of both transformistas and beauty pageant contestants (misses). Placing transformistas and misses in the same analytic frame enables Ochoa to delve deeply into complex questions of media and spectacle, gender and sexuality, race and class, and self-fashioning and identity in Venezuela.
Beauty pageants play an outsized role in Venezuela. The country has won more international beauty contests than any other. The femininity performed by Venezuelan women in high-profile, widely viewed pageants defines a kind of national femininity. Ochoa argues that as transformistas and misses work to achieve the bodies, clothing and makeup styles, and postures and gestures of this national femininity, they come to embody Venezuelan modernity.
El Sistema is a nationwide, state-funded music education program in Venezuela. Founded in 1975 by economist and musician José Antonio Abreu, the institution has weathered seven jolting changes in government. Hugo Chávez and, after his death, the incumbent president Nicolás Maduro enthusiastically included the institution into the political agenda of the socialist project and captured the affective power of music for their own aims. Fueled by the oil boom in the 2000s, El Sistema grew over the years to encompass 1,210 orchestras for children and youth in Venezuela, reached almost 1 million people out of the 30 million in the country, and served as a model in more than 35 countries around the world.
Sonorous Worlds is an ethnography of the young Venezuelan musicians who participate in El Sistema, many of whom live in urban barrios and face everyday gang violence, state repression, social exclusion, and forced migration in response to sociopolitical crisis. This book looks at how these youth engage with what the author calls “enchantment,” that is, how they use musical practices to escape, rupture, and critique dominant structures of power. Stainova’s focus on artistic practice and enchantment allows her to theorize the successes and failures of political projects through the lens of the everyday transformations in people’s lives.
Winner of the Fernando Coronil Prize for best book about Venezuela, awarded by the Venezuelan Studies Section of LASA.
In cultural history, the 1950s in Venezuela are commonly celebrated as a golden age of modernity, realized by a booming oil economy, dazzling modernist architecture, and nationwide modernization projects. But this is only half the story. In this path-breaking study, Lisa Blackmore reframes the concept of modernity as a complex cultural formation in which modern aesthetics became deeply entangled with authoritarian politics. Drawing on extensive archival research and presenting a wealth of previously unpublished visual materials, Blackmore revisits the decade-long dictatorship to unearth the spectacles of progress that offset repression and censorship. Analyses of a wide range of case studies—from housing projects to agricultural colonies, urban monuments to official exhibitions, and carnival processions to consumer culture—reveal the manifold apparatuses that mythologized visionary leadership, advocated technocratic development, and presented military rule as the only route to progress. Offering a sharp corrective to depoliticized accounts of the period, Spectacular Modernity instead exposes how Venezuelans were promised a radically transformed landscape in exchange for their democratic freedoms.
Amazonian indigenous peoples have preserved many aspects of their culture and cosmology while also developing complex relationships with dominant non-indigenous society. Until now, anthropological writing on Amazonian peoples has been divided between “traditional” topics like kinship, cosmology, ritual, and myth, on the one hand, and the analysis of their struggles with the nation-state on the other. What has been lacking is work that bridges these two approaches and takes into consideration the meaning of relationships with the state from an indigenous perspective.
That long-standing dichotomy is challenged in this new ethnography by anthropologist José Kelly. Kelly places the study of culture and cosmology squarely within the context of the modern nation-state and its institutions. He explores Indian-white relations as seen through the operation of a state-run health system among the indigenous Yanomami of southern Venezuela.
With theoretical foundations in the fields of medical and Amazonian anthropology, Kelly sheds light on how Amerindian cosmology shapes concepts of the state at the community level. The result is a symmetrical anthropology that treats white and Amerindian perceptions of each other within a single theoretical framework, thus expanding our understanding of each group and its influences on the other. This book will be valuable to those studying Amazonian peoples, medical anthropology, development studies, and Latin America. Its new takes on theory and methodology make it ideal for classroom use.
Tell Me Why My Children Died tells the gripping story of indigenous leaders' efforts to identify a strange disease that killed thirty-two children and six young adults in a Venezuelan rain forest between 2007 and 2008. In this pathbreaking book, Charles L. Briggs and Clara Mantini-Briggs relay the nightmarish and difficult experiences of doctors, patients, parents, local leaders, healers, and epidemiologists; detail how journalists first created a smoke screen, then projected the epidemic worldwide; discuss the Chávez government's hesitant and sometimes ambivalent reactions; and narrate the eventual diagnosis of bat-transmitted rabies. The book provides a new framework for analyzing how the uneven distribution of rights to produce and circulate knowledge about health are wedded at the hip with health inequities. By recounting residents' quest to learn why their children died and documenting their creative approaches to democratizing health, the authors open up new ways to address some of global health's most intractable problems.
Venezuela’s Bolivarian Democracy brings together a variety of perspectives on participation and democracy in Venezuela. An interdisciplinary group of contributors focuses on the everyday lives of Venezuelans, examining the forms of participation that have emerged in communal councils, cultural activities, blogs, community media, and several other forums. The essays validate many of the critiques of democracy under Chávez, as well as much of the praise. They show that while government corporatism and clientelism are constant threats, the forms of political and cultural participation discussed are creating new discourses, networks, and organizational spaces—for better and for worse. With open yet critical minds, the contributors seek to analyze Venezuela’s Bolivarian democratic experience through empirical research. In doing so, they reveal a nuanced process, a richer and more complex one than is conveyed in international journalism and scholarship exclusively focused on the words and actions of Hugo Chávez.
Contributors Carolina Acosta-Alzuru Julia Buxton Luis Duno Gottberg Sujatha Fernandes María Pilar García-Guadilla Kirk A. Hawkins Daniel Hellinger Michael E. Johnson Luis E. Lander Margarita López-Maya Elizabeth Gackstetter Nichols Coraly Pagan Guillermo Rosas Naomi Schiller David Smilde Alejandro Velasco
Teodoro Petkoff and the other members of the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) in Venezuela had aroused the ire of the orthodox communist leaders by claiming to be both authentic communists and true nationalists, not bound by the dictates of either the Moscow or Maoist/Beijing wings of the party. To infuriate the traditionalists even further, Petkoff and his associates succeeded in being more than isolated critics, as MAS quickly eclipsed the traditional Venezuelan Communist Party and became that country's leading leftist group.
The author places MAS in its international national, and historical contexts in order to determine the extent to which it is a unique communist party, as it claims to be. He traces the theory of "national democratic revolution, " which MAS rejects, back to Lenin, and discusses the Latin American left's reevaluation of that thesis. Ellner examines the guerrilla movement in Venezuela, the student movement of the late 1960s, and the emergence of the "New Left" in other countries, especially noting their influence on the formation of MAS. He also discusses the group's role in Venezuelan elections and it's relations with the other parties.
Chavistas are the local leaders and activists in Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, working to establish democracy through government-sponsored social missions, community self-governance, and popular collectives. We Are the State! tells the story of their grassroots activism. In perspectives gleaned from participant observation with barrio residents in workplaces, communal kitchens, city-wide forums, and grassroots meetings and assemblies, as well as family and recreational events, anthropologist Cristobal Valencia vividly recounts tensions between activists, local officials, and the wealthy opposition.
The author offers an anthropological analysis of the state, social movements, and democracy as lived experiences of the poor, gendered, and racialized residents of two parishes in Caracas, Venezuela, and Afro-Venezuelan communities nearby. Ethnographic research reveals the shift in relationships of power and the evolving political practices among the Chavistas, the Chávez government, and the opposition. Examining the subjective experiences of barrio residents in everyday processes of state formation, this book provides a new perspective on the Chavistas, arguing that they are a broad-based social movement and driving force behind a revolution struggling to transfer state power to organized civil society.
Through his intense engagement with the constantly changing social, political, and economic dynamics, Valencia dramatically challenges top-down understandings of the state and power in Venezuela. He shows the unequal relationships between sectors of civil society, and he shows state formation as a process enmeshed in the struggles for social justice, demonstrating that the state is a sociopolitical entity that acts through civil society, rather than above it.
Since being elected president in 1998, Hugo Chávez has become the face of contemporary Venezuela and, more broadly, anticapitalist revolution. George Ciccariello-Maher contends that this focus on Chávez has obscured the inner dynamics and historical development of the country’s Bolivarian Revolution. In We Created Chávez, by examining social movements and revolutionary groups active before and during the Chávez era, Ciccariello-Maher provides a broader, more nuanced account of Chávez’s rise to power and the years of activism that preceded it.
Based on interviews with grassroots organizers, former guerrillas, members of neighborhood militias, and government officials, Ciccariello-Maher presents a new history of Venezuelan political activism, one told from below. Led by leftist guerrillas, women, Afro-Venezuelans, indigenous people, and students, the social movements he discusses have been struggling against corruption and repression since 1958. Ciccariello-Maher pays particular attention to the dynamic interplay between the Chávez government, revolutionary social movements, and the Venezuelan people, recasting the Bolivarian Revolution as a long-term and multifaceted process of political transformation.
In this vivid ethnography of social movements in the barrios, or poor shantytowns, of Caracas, Sujatha Fernandes reveals a significant dimension of political life in Venezuela since President Hugo Chávez was elected. Fernandes traces the histories of the barrios, from the guerrilla insurgency, movements against displacement, and cultural resistance of the 1960s and 1970s, through the debt crisis of the early 1980s and the neoliberal reforms that followed, to the Chávez period. She weaves barrio residents’ life stories into her account of movements for social and economic justice. Who Can Stop the Drums? demonstrates that the transformations under way in Venezuela are shaped by negotiations between the Chávez government and social movements with their own forms of historical memory, local organization, and consciousness.
Fernandes portrays everyday life and politics in the shantytowns of Caracas through accounts of community-based radio, barrio assemblies, and popular fiestas, and the many interviews she conducted with activists and government officials. Most of the barrio activists she presents are Chávez supporters. They see the leftist president as someone who understands their precarious lives and has made important changes to the state system to redistribute resources. Yet they must balance receiving state resources, which are necessary to fund their community-based projects, with their desire to retain a sense of agency. Fernandes locates the struggles of the urban poor within Venezuela’s transition from neoliberalism to what she calls “post-neoliberalism.” She contends that in contemporary Venezuela we find a hybrid state; while Chávez is actively challenging neoliberalism, the state remains subject to the constraints and logics of global capital.
Alan L. MCPHERSON Harvard University Press, 2003 Library of Congress F1418.M373 2003 | Dewey Decimal 327.7308
In 1958, angry Venezuelans attacked Vice President Richard Nixon in Caracas, opening a turbulent decade in Latin American-U.S. relations. In Yankee No! Alan McPherson sheds much-needed light on the controversial and pressing problem of anti-U.S. sentiment in the world.
Examining the roots of anti-Americanism in Latin America, McPherson focuses on three major crises: the Cuban Revolution, the 1964 Panama riots, and U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic. Deftly combining cultural and political analysis, he demonstrates the shifting and complex nature of anti-Americanism in each country and the love-hate ambivalence of most Latin Americans toward the United States. When rising panic over "Yankee hating" led Washington to try to contain foreign hostility, the government displayed a surprisingly coherent and consistent response, maintaining an ideological self-confidence that has outlasted a Latin American diplomacy torn between resentment and admiration of the United States.
However, McPherson warns, U.S. leaders run a great risk if they continue to ignore the deeper causes of anti-Americanism. Written with dramatic flair, Yankee No! is a timely, compelling, and carefully researched contribution to international history.
Table of Contents:
Introduction Anti-Americanism as Historical Problem
1. The Road to Caracas Or, Richard Nixon Must Get Stoned 2. Cuba, 1959 Revolutionary Anti-Americanism and U.S. Panic 3. Panama, 1964 Conservative Anti-Americanism and U.S. Pragmatism 4. Dominican Republic, 1965 Episodic Anti-Americanism and U.S. Containment
Epilogue Toward Global Anti-Americanism
Abbreviations Notes Selected Sources Acknowledgments Index
Reviews of this book: McPherson examines the years from 1958 to 1966, when anti-Americanism was a prominent theme in inter-American diplomacy, to deliver a helpful reminder that anti-Americanism is not a new phenomenon nor a product only of the Middle East--and that it has been confronted quite effectively in the past, at least when its sources were sought out and taken seriously. He provides several vivid case studies, starting with the attacks on Vice President Richard Nixon in Caracas and continuing on to Cuba, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. Together, these examples show the variability and ambivalence of anti-Americanism; they also emphasize the importance of U.S. policies that respond to its challenges rather than dismissing it as a cynical invention of alienated elites...This well-written and balanced book should be required reading in the White House, in Langley, and around Foggy Bottom. --Foreign Affairs
Alan McPherson has not only made a valuable contribution to the literature on U.S.-Latin American relations but, more importantly, he has provided a superb analysis of anti-Americanism by identifying its variability, its ambivalence, and the U.S. resilience in confronting the challenge during the critical years framed in this book. In his sophistication and in his writing he demonstrates all the attributes of a seasoned historian. --Lester D. Langley, author of The Americas in the Modern Age
McPherson expertly extends the field of U.S. foreign relations into social and cultural history. In his analysis of U.S. relations with Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Panama, he deftly avoids the trap of writing international history solely with the 'view from Washington' perspective. I unequivocally recommend it. --Stephen Rabe, author of Eisenhower and Latin America
This timely, deeply researched, analytically rigorous, and handsomely written study probes the many anti-Americanisms that have bedeviled U.S. relations with Latin America. Why do they hate us?' is an urgent question today. McPherson impressively demonstrates that it has profound historical roots that can inform caring policymakers eager to prevent global violence. --Thomas G. Paterson, author of Contesting Castro
McPherson opens a revealing window on the heretofore elusive phenomenon of anti-Americanism. In so doing he takes his place in the front ranks of younger scholars writing about U.S. foreign relations. --William Walker, Florida International University