Ciccariello-Maher, George. We Created Chavez: A People's History of the Venezuelan Revolution.

Author:Zentella, Yoly
Position:Book review
 
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Ciccariello-Maher, George. We Created Chavez: A People's History of the Venezuelan Revolution. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013.

Espin, Vilma., Asela de los Santos, and Yolanda Ferrer. Women in Cuba: The Making of a Revolution within the Revolution. New York: Pathfinder Press, 2012.

Today many engage in dialogue and participate in protests and demonstrations against racism, injustice, and police brutality. Some acknowledge this abuse as historical. We Created Chavez: A People's History of the Venezuelan Revolution and Women in Cuba. The Making of a Revolution within the Revolution take different approaches on the same topic; power of the people. It is the people who make revolutionary change and create leaders, not the converse. Both books make clear the importance of politicization, an element that if absent can cause grassroots-driven movements to die. Consider, for example, the fate of the Mexican Revolution, an emotional uprising, yet lacking politicization.

We Created Chavez explores the story of "a history from below" (p. 9). This history is "driven by the struggles and the self-activity of the people themselves, a struggle by the people over what it means to be the 'people' versus 'a history from above'" (p. 9). Perspectives from above can easily lead "to the exaggeration of [Hugo] Chavez's role" (p. 9). To counteract this possibility, the author explores the decades-long story of the Bolivarian Revolution, which did not begin in 1998, but was instead a product of struggles unleashed during the 1950s. Following the 1958 overthrow of military dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez, the so-called transition to democracy initiated by Romulo Betancourt marked a people's struggle for human rights and justice. Although heralded as the "father of Venezuelan democracy," Betancourt kept the country under a state of emergency during much of his tenure (p. 11). Repressive measures accelerated a guerilla war. This was a factor in the disenchanted gravitating toward an electoral process that offered promises to "revolutionize the state" and address popular demands (p. 12). The result was the 1989 Caracazo [Caracas Riots], which were met with government repression.

In addition to an introduction, nine chapters, and a conclusion, We Created Chavez has two interesting interludes. These vignettes are Venezuelan historical "qualitative leaps," frameworks for ideas and analyses, focusing on the people, the 1989 Caracazo, and the 2002 rebellion that...

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