We Created Chávez
A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution
Publication Year: 2013
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.
Published by: Duke University Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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This book, like the revolutionary process it documents, would not be possi-ble without the blind faith and irrational support of many. My dissertationcommittee—Wendy Brown, Mark Bevir, Nelson Maldonado-Torres, KirenChaudhry, and Pheng Cheah—let me make what must have seemed liketwo terrible decisions: to move to Venezuela for no apparent reason and to...
Map of Venezuela
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Introduction. What People? Whose History?
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When we got to La Piedrita, they already knew we were coming. If not forthe phone call they received from a trusted comrade, then from the videocameras lining the perimeter of this revolutionary zone that jealously guardsits autonomy from all governments, right or left. If not from the cameras,then from the network of eyes dispersed across the community, always alert...
One. A Guerrilla History
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Nationally recognized Venezuelan journalist and former head of the Pa-triotic Junta that overthrew the dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez, FabricioOjeda rose and walked calmly to the podium. This towering figure of re-sistance solemnly recounted having stood above a grave in the Cemetery ofthe South—later to become a symbol of extrajudicial killings during the...
Two. Reconnecting with the Masses
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The Venezuelan guerrilla struggle was dashed to pieces on the surprisinglytreacherous rocks of the masses. After initially riding the tiger of massiveanti-Betancourt sentiment, the guerrillas, for a number of reasons not en-tirely within their control, saw their support dissipate rapidly in the late1960s. Leoni’s government, recognizing that it was largely Rómulo Betan-...
Three. Birth of the ‘‘Tupamaros’’
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They were called Ñangaras. As the Metropolitan Police flooded up theAvenida Sucre and surrounded the first blocks of the Monte Piedad neigh-borhood of 23 de Enero, which perch strategically on a blu√ overlookingthe ostensible seat of Venezuelan political power, the young residents ofBlock 5 were prepared. They crept swiftly up the dark and narrow stairway,...
First Interlude. The CaracazoHistory Splits in Two
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Previous chapters have shown that the history of popular struggle in Vene-zuela began long before Chávez and that immediate dissatisfaction with thelimited, elite representative democratic regime that emerged after 1958 gaverise to a sporadic wave of resistance—sometimes powerful, frequently dis-persed—first expressed on the national level during the guerrilla war of the...
Four. Sergio’s Blood: Student Struggles from the University to the Streets
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In mid-1993, the Venezuelan political system was in a veritable free fall. TheCaracazo—predictable for some of its participants but utterly astonishingfor elites intoxicated by their own myths—was followed soon after by a pairof attempted coups in February and November 1992. While the nominallysocial democratic ruling party Democratic Action (ad) succeeded in closing...
Five. Manuelita’s Boots: Women between Two Movements
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Three dozen conspirators forced their way into the Government Buildingin Bogotá, intent on assassinating Simón Bolívar. Through a characteristiccombination of folly and misinformation, the Liberator himself dismissedthe warnings of his long-time mistress Manuela Sáenz, convinced that theconspirators had backed out of their widely known plan. When the attack...
Six. José Leonardo’s Body and the Collapse of Mestizaje
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Long before Toussaint L’Ouverture, what was quite possibly the first se-rious rebellion by black slaves in the Americas nearly became a genuinerevolution. But the first shot in this protracted war against conquest andslavery was fired in 1499 by Venezuela’s indigenous population at PuertoFlechado, whose name derives from the torrent of arrows that rained down...
Second Interlude. Every Eleventh Has Its Thirteenth
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There is perhaps only one event more revealing than a coup, and that is acoup that, while initially successful, is eventually reversed.∞ Any coup servesto draw back the veil of polite society (however threadbare) to reveal thelines of force that traverse it, and a reversed coup is an even more powerfulrevelation of where, precisely, social power lies. It is in this sense that the...
Seven. Venezuelan Workers: Aristocracy or Revolutionary Class?
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It is the forty-fifth anniversary of Venezuela’s return to formal democracy,and the country is in the grips of an unprecedented economic and politicalcatastrophe: an oil industry lockout has dragged on for more than 60 days,crippling the country in an ill-conceived e√ort to again oust Chávez wherethe coup had failed. Leftists worldwide are initially hesitant, unsure of...
Eight. Oligarchs Tremble! : Peasant Struggles at the Margins of the State
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As the Conservative Party’s Central Army approached Santa Inés, rumorsspread like the prairie fire that Federal general Ezequiel Zamora himselfwould later unleash on the enemy: the Federal troops, so went the rumors,were badly outnumbered and poorly supplied. Only Zamora was calm:‘‘You haven’t seen what I have done, and what I am doing, to receive the...
Nine. A New Proletariat? : Informal Labor and the Revolutionary Streets
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The Chávez regime is perched precariously between two crises as the anti-Chavista opposition—discredited politically in the defeated April coup—prepares to flex its economic muscle in the run-up to the oil lockout tobegin in December. Popular reaction to such open threats is resounding,giving rise to a migration paralleling that of 13-a, the day Chávez was re-...
Conclusion. Dual Power against the Magical State
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In many ways, this people’s history has been a history of the dispersal of apeople: the failure of the Venezuelan guerrilla war, a struggle that repre-sented the people in its aspirations but never in its constituency, led to adispersal of popular forces. This dispersal then gave rise to a period in whicha multiplicity of movements and struggles developed autonomously across...
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Page Count: 346
Illustrations: 17 photographs, 1 map
Publication Year: 2013