Dragon in the Tropics: Hugo Chavez and the Political Economy of Revolution in Venezuela

Article excerpt

DRAGON IN THE TROPICS: HUGO CHAVEZ AND THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF REVOLUTION IN VENEZUELA

Javier Corrales and Michael Penfold

(Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2011), 195 pages.

Dragon in the Tropics by Javier Corrales, professor of political science at Amherst College, and Michael Penfold, professor of political economy at the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administracion in Caracas, is a slim but informative description of the Chavez regime and how it has evolved. The book provides a compelling overview of Chavez's handling of Venezuela's domestic politics, economy and foreign policy.

The authors argue that Venezuela under Chavez is neither a full democracy nor a dictatorship, but rather a mixed regime with elements of both political systems. They note the presence of elections, but also unfair electoral conditions, cronyism, voter intimidation and an absence of term limits, which secures Chavez's hold on power. The book argues that the transformation of Venezuela from democracy to a mixed regime cannot be explained by oil wealth alone. …