Venezuela

Venezuela

Venezuela

Venezuela

Synopsis

Venezuela stands out as one of Latin America's most influential, yet controversial countries, leading students to want to know more about the nation and its outspoken president. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to ground an understanding of the contemporary nation, "Venezuela" provides the reader with an overview of the Venezuelan story from 1499 to the present.

The study provides a comprehensive look at all aspects of life in this South American powerhouse, discussing the nation's geography, history, government and politics, economy, society, and culture. Specific attention is directed to topics such as industry, labor, religion, ethnicity, women, etiquette, literature, art, music, and food, among many others. In addition, the book examines the controversy surrounding Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. Written in an accessible and engaging tone, this volume is ideal for high school and undergraduate students--and essential for library shelves."

Excerpt

Venezuela is not just oil any more than Angola is just diamonds. Hugo Chávez no more represents the ideas and aspirations of every individual Venezuelan anymore than Barack Obama shares identical ideologies with every person in the United States. Economics and politicians, however, for good or ill, come to represent nations in ways that oversimplify complex histories and realities. When we know little of a nation’s history or reality it is all too easy to form an opinion about that country based on nothing more than a story in a newspaper or a 30-second segment on cable news. Reporters call what they write stories. The word “story” in English also implies fiction. Reporters clearly do not intend to write fiction when they write their stories. The word is apt, nevertheless, because the stories only reflect one person’s interpretation of a select body of evidence that can never be, because of the story’s brevity, representational of an entire nation’s reality. When we, as teachers, scholars, students, or businesspeople, draw general conclusions from those brief stories, we, in a sense, create the lens through which we understand an entire country, and that understanding is more unintentionally fictional than factual.

We intend to help you move past an understanding of Venezuela as a story and toward nuanced insight into Venezuela as a nation. Trying to understand Venezuelan reality within the context of interrelated struggles over modernization, Westernization and Western power, race, class, gender, politics, economics, culture, and oil is what this book is about. In the following chapters, we will do our best to pull all of those threads apart and examine them carefully to help readers understand why Venezuela is truly unique and why it is important in the world we live in today—why it is so much more than oil and headlines.

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