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Venezuelan Politics in the Chávez Era: Class, Polarization, and Conflict

Steve Ellner and Daniel Hellinger, editors
Venezuelan Politics in the Chávez Era: Class, Polarization, and Conflict
ISBN: 978-1-58826-108-3
ISBN: 978-1-58826-297-4
2003/259 pages/LC: 2002073985
A related title: Rethinking Venezuelan Politicsby Steve Ellner.

"An excellent introduction to the Chávez phenomenon, the most fascinating and significant development in Latin America in the early years of the twenty-first century."—Richard Gott, Journal of Latin American Studies

"Deftly captures the conflicts and contradictions of the complicated, populist process of 'chavismo,' and with it some of the contradictions of the current world order.... The reader of this excellent collection of essays will come away with a clearer understanding of the lack of clarity of the politics of the Chávez era."—Fred Rosen, Science & Society

"Provides anyone with an interest in Venezuelan politics an impressive multi-faceted analysis of the period since the disturbances in Venezuela in February 1989."—David Leaman, Latin American Research Review

"This book is required reading for Latin Americanists and particularly for anyone interested in contemporary Venezuelan politcs.... The editors have provided compelling evidence that social scientists should once more take a hard look at the class conflict model and its ability to explain political change."—David J. Myers, Latin American Politics and Society

"[An] extremely valuable and balanced overview of Venezuela under the erratic reign of President Hugo Chavez, this timely book provides much of the essential background that has, so far, been notably absent in the policy debate."—Foreign Affairs


The radical alteration of the political landscape in Venezuela following the electoral triumph of the controversial Hugo Chávez calls for a fresh look at the country's institutions and policies. In response, and challenging much of the scholarly literature on Venezuelan democracy, this book offers a revisionist view of Venezuela's recent political history and a fresh appraisal of the Chávez administration.


Steve Ellner is professor of economic history at the Universidad de Oriente in Venezuela. His many publications include The Latin American Left: From the Fall of Allende to Perestroika (coedited) and Venezuela's Movimiento al Socialismo: From Guerrilla Defeat to Electoral Politics. Daniel Hellinger is professor of political science at Webster University. He is author of Venezuela: Tarnished Democracy and coordinating editor of Post-Bonanza Venezuela, a special issue of Latin American Perspectives.


  • Prologue: Venezuela's Permanent Dilemma—J.V. Lombardi.
  • Introduction: The Search for Explanations—S. Ellner.
  • Political Overview: The Breakdown of Puntofijismo and Rise of ChavismoD. Hellinger.
  • Social Polarization and the Populist Resurgence in Venezuela—K. Roberts.
  • Hugo Chávez Frías: His Movement and His Presidency—M. López Maya.
  • Democracy in Uniform: Chávez and the Venezuelan Armed Forces—D.L. Norden.
  • Economic Policy and the Rise of Hugo Chávez—J. Buxton.
  • Subversive Oil—B. Mommer.
  • State Reform Before and After Chávez's Election—A.E. Alvarez.
  • Organized Labor Movement and the Challenge of ChavismoS. Ellner.
  • Civil Society: Institutionalization, Fragmentation, Autonomy—M.P. García-Guadilla.
  • The Hugo Chávez Phenomenon: What Do "the People" Think?—P. Márquez.
  • Conclusion: The Democratic and Authoritarian Direction of the Chavista Movement—S. Ellner and D. Hellinger.