Populism in Venezuela
By Ryan Brading
Routledge – 2012 – 208 pages
Populism in Venezuela analyses the emergence, formation, reproduction and resistance to a left-wing populist project in a major world oil producer.
For readers who seek to understand the historical, economical and sociological contexts that gave rise to a 38 year-old mestizo-mulato Lieutenant Colonel who stormed the presidential palace in a bloody coup d’état in 1992, subsequently returned to the same palace in 1998, but this time, as a democratically elected President, and has been in power since, this book is the right place to start. In spite of opposition attempts to oust President Hugo Chávez and his political machinery from power, this ‘socialism of the twenty-first century’ hegemonic project has succeeded in creating an institutional structure designed to improve the lives of the previously excluded population. An in-depth fieldwork study of a Cuban healthcare programme named Barrio Adentro (deep in the slums) in Venezuela’s poor and rural areas, and the nonviolence Manos Blancas (white hands) opposition student movement - provides a descriptive and analytical account of people’s problems from both sides in a deeply polarised society. The concluding chapter of this book examines Chávez’s intention to stay in power until 2031.
An original resource for scholars, students and general readers; this book not only furthers our understanding populism in Venezuela but also provides a sound method to analyse populist practices in other contexts.
"At the centre of debates on populist politics in Latin America, this book’s combination of impressive knowledge and careful argument will make it a touchstone reference for understanding Venezuela’s contemporary transformation. It offers fresh and vital new insight on the past, present, and future of the Bolivarian project."
—Adam David Morton, The University of Nottingham
"Ryan Brading brings an original and imaginative perspective to an issue of fundamental concern to discourse analysis: the role of the state and ideology in legitimizing current Venezuela’s military populism. The result is a highly suggestive work which will have to be confronted on one level or another by any future study of populism in Latin American societies. It is a book that well worth the reading.
—Luis Ricardo Davila, Harvard University
"This book provides a rigorous and well-researched study of one of the most important national-popular regimes that have emerged in Latin America over the last fifteen years: Chavez's Venezuela. Brading's work constitutes a remarkable contribution to the understanding of one of the most original political movements of our time, and it is bound to become a necessary reference for the scholars working in the field of Latin American politics."
—Ernesto Laclau, Northwestern University
Introduction. 1. Populism, Theories, and Logics: A Theoretical and Methodological Approach. 2. The Venezuelan State: Its Formation, Consolidation and Decline. 3. The Process of Deinstitutionalizing the Power Structure and Institutionalizing Venezuela’s Bolivarian Project. 4. A Healthcare Program in Excluded Areas: A Community Participative Model Constructs Healthcare with Cuban Medics in Venezuela. 5. The Anti-Bolivarian Student Movement: New Social Actors Challenge the Advancement of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Radicalism 6. Indefinite Re-election, Gerrymandering, Chávez’s Cancer, Grand Missions and a United Opposition Force. Conclusion.
Ryan Brading is Post-Doctoral Fellow at University of Essex, UK.