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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.
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George Ciccariello-Maher is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Drexel University.Review:
"We Created Chávez provides a systematic, bottom-up approach to Venezuelan politics from 1958 to the present. It offers a much-needed new perspective on Hugo Chávez's rise to power. Writing in a lively style and demonstrating a thorough command of the issues and personalities in recent Venezuelan history, George Ciccariello-Maher has produced a book essential to understanding the phenomenon of 'Chavismo,' which has attracted widespread interest throughout the world."—Steve Ellner, author of Rethinking Venezuelan Politics: Class, Conflict, and the Chávez Phenomenon
"In the United States, accounts of Venezuela have been fixated on the figure of Hugo Chávez. We Created Chávez breaks with this obsession, instead showing the dynamic and contradictory relationship that exists between Venezuela's president and the social forces that gave rise to and sustain the government. It is required reading for anyone wishing to understand the internal dynamics of social change underway in Venezuela today."—Miguel Tinker Salas, author of The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela
“Ciccariello-Maher’s history of the Venezuelan left is essential to understanding the Chávez era.” (Dorothy Kronick The New Republic)
“Terrific.” (Greg Grandin The Nation)
“[A] crisply written social and political history of the critical decades leading up to Chávez's election in 1998. . . . For those who want to see the revolution continue, Ciccariello-Maher has made a critical contribution to our understanding, which is in and of itself enough to recommend this book without reservation. But more than that, We Created Chávez brilliantly demonstrates how social history scholarship can mine the lived experiences of rank-and-file activists and radical leaders for precious stones, and then set those gems in a visible and rigorous theoretical frame that allows us to see history in motion.” (Todd Chretien Socialist Worker)
“I've been looking for this book for years.” (Steve Henshall Socialist Review)
"In addition to providing readers with an irreplaceable genealogy of the Revolutionary Left in Venezuela and its role in the making of the present, We Created Chávez deftly illustrates the tensions between constituent and constituted power that make the Bolivarian Revolution a dialectical process rather than a presidential term in office. We Created Chávez is also a masterful contribution to a thankfully growing body of work responding to dominant portrayals of the Bolivarian process in Venezuela enraptured or enraged by the figure of el Comandante.” (Donald V. Kingsbury Theory & Event)
“In We Created Chávez, George Ciccariello-Maher offers a masterful ‘people’s history’ of Venezuela.... Through Ciccariello-Maher’s analysis, a Venezuela easily and often ignored both by academia and by the popular press becomes visible. It is this Venezuela from which post-Chávez popular politics will be forged; Ciccariello-Maher offers valuable insight into what the coming years may bring.” (Erica S. Simmons Latin American Politics and Society)
"We Created Chavez is likely to be a point of reference for anyone seeking to assess chavismo as a seminal case of popular resistance to neoliberal globalization, as well as its relevance to twenty-first-century socialism." (Daniel Hellinger Hispanic American Historical Review)
"If . . . you want an engaging book that, in the service of a revolutionist mythos, narrates the actions and ideas of many people often neglected by scholars, you may appreciate We Created Chavez." (Jonathan Eastwood American Historical Review)
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