I lived in Caracas in 1950 and 1951, during which time I had an opportunity to visit all twenty states, all the major cities, and every oilfield and refinery. One by-product of this sojourn was my book Petroleum in Venezuela, published by the University of California Press in 1954. I visited Venezuela again during 1956. Over the past decade I have had good opportunities to follow closely the extraordinarily rapid political, social, and economic changes that have characterized Venezuela's recent history, either from my United States government posts dealing with Latin American affairs (1952-3, 1955-7) or from my academic employment as Professor of Modern Latin American History (1953-5, and 1957 to the present time). I also keep up a steady correspondence with my many good Venezuelan friends.
Particularly because of the dynamic quality of her modern history, Venezuela is an extremely fascinating country to study. Many revolutionary developments are so recent that it is too early to see them in proper perspective. Consequently I make no pretence that my assessment of Venezuela is in any way definitive. It is my opinion that the key to understanding contemporary Venezuela is to appreciate the inexorable, but for the most part non-violent, social revolution that has been sweeping that nation since the end of the Second World War. In this process the class structure is being altered; wealth and property are being redistributed; the economy is being transformed; institutions are undergoing drastic changes, and political processes have come under the control, for the first time, of genuine reform elements.
In many respects Venezuela's reformers have set an example which revolutionary leaders elsewhere might well be advised to follow. For her leaders have generally tried to steer the country through its 'revolution of rising expecta-