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Hugo Chavez and the Decline of an "Exceptional Democracy"

Edited by Steve Ellner and Miguel Tinker Salas

This authoritative book offers a comprehensive assessment of contemporary Venezuela. Analyzing the multifaceted phenomenon of Hugo Chávez, leading scholars move beyond his flamboyant style to focus on the concerns of popular social and political movements. The book challenges the misleading notions that for several decades glorified Venezuelan "exceptionalism" and minimized the role of important actors. After setting the historical and socio-economic contexts, the contributors explore racial issues, social and labor movements, electoral politics, economic and oil policy, and United States support for the Venezuelan opposition. Underscoring the complexity of Chávez and his popularity, the book highlights the need to avoid simplistic assessments of the past and present and offers a clear-eyed understanding of Venezuelan reality today.

Contributions by: Christopher I. Clement, Steve Ellner, Maria Pilar García Guadilla, Daniel Hellinger, Jesús María Herrera Salas, Edgardo Lander, Dick Parker, Miguel Tinker Salas, and Cristóbal Valencia Ramírez
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 236Size: 6 1/8 x 9 1/2
978-0-7425-5455-9 • Hardback • December 2006 • $99.00 • (£65.00)
978-0-7425-5456-6 • Paperback • December 2006 • $35.00 • (£23.95)
978-1-4616-4664-8 • eBook • December 2006 • $33.00 • (£22.95)
Steve Ellner is professor at the Universidad de Oriente, Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. Miguel Tinker Salas is Arango Professor of Latin American History and Chicano/a studies at Pomona College.
Introduction: New Perspectives and the Chávez Phenomenon
Part I: Theoretical, Historical, and International Background
Chapter 1: The Venezuelan Exceptionalism Thesis: Separating Myth from Reality
Chapter 2: Venezuelan Social Conflict in a Global Context
Part II: Oil and Economic Policy
Chapter 3: U.S. Oil Companies in Venezuela: The Forging of an Enduring Alliance
Chapter 4: Chávez and the Search for an Alternative to Neoliberalism
Part III: Labor and Race
Chapter 5: Trade Autonomy and the Emergence of a New Labor Movement in Venezuela
Chapter 6: Ethnicity and Revolution: The Political Economy of Racism in Venezuela
Part IV: Social Movements
Chapter 7: Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution: Who Are the Chavistas?
Chapter 8: Social Movements in a Polarized Setting: Myths of Venezuelan Civil Society
Part V: Electoral Politics, Social Change, and U.S. Reaction
Chapter 9: When "No" Means "Yes to Revolution": Electoral Politics in Bolivarian Venezuela
Chapter 10: Confronting Hugo Chávez: United States "Democracy Promotion" in Latin America
The authors of this edited volume provide a generally positive portrayal of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and the reforms he has introduced since he was first elected in 1998. Recommended.

The sociology and history in the book are . . . illuminating.
George Philip; Journal of Latin American Studies

This collection of articles . . . is probably the best English-language introduction to the profound changes taking place in Venezuela in the past 10 years.
Estudios Interdisciplinarios De America Latina Y El Caribe

Steve Ellner and Miguel Tinker Salas meet the need for a measured and accessible synthesis of the arguments around the decline of Venezuelan 'exceptional' democracy and the concomitant rise and presidency of Hugo Chávez. . . . The contributions are all of high quality. . . . Achieves its goal of introducing contemporary Venezuela to a student audience. . . . The volume successfully stimulates discussion and covers relevant topics at an accessible level for today's universities, colleges, and schools, while it is also more widely valuable to the inquiring general public.
Michael Derham; Hispanic American Historical Review

With the rise and presidency of Hugo Chavez, Ellner finds himself uniquely positioned to commentate on and explain the drivers of contemporary change and political evolution in Venezuela, where he has lived for over 30 years. Unlike many of those currently writing on the country and its president, he brings an objective and informed perspective, one that transcends subjective accounts and the current polarization of assessments. More importantly, his writing and explanatory frameworks are accessible and engaging, making his latest book both an excellent introduction for those bewildered and new to the Chavez phenomenon and also an invaluable read for long-term observers of Venezuela and the South American region more broadly.
Bulletin of Latin American Research

An excellent overview of the collapse of Venezuelan democracy, the rise of Hugo Chávez, and what Venezuela looks like under Chávez.
Judith Ewell, The College of William and Mary

Sets the Chávez phenomenon in historical context

Offers a critical analysis of widely accepted notions concerning Venezuelan history and politics

Provides a close view of recent developments in social and labor movements in Venezuela and their interaction with political actors

Examines how decisions taken in the oil industry have shaped Venezuelan politics, both historically and today

Traces the historical origin of Venezuelan racism, in the process refuting the notion that it is an invention of President Chávez and his movement

Analyzes Venezuela's electoral democracy under Chávez, focusing on social cleavages and the role of international agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy