Since being elected president in 1998, Hugo Chávez has become the face of contemporary Venezuela and, more broadly, anticapitalist revolution. George Ciccariello-Maher contends that this focus on Chávez has obscured the inner dynamics and historical development of the country’s Bolivarian Revolution. In We Created Chávez, by examining social movements and revolutionary groups active before and during the Chávez era, Ciccariello-Maher provides a broader, more nuanced account of Chávez’s rise to power and the years of activism that preceded it.
Based on interviews with grassroots organizers, former guerrillas, members of neighborhood militias, and government officials, Ciccariello-Maher presents a new history of Venezuelan political activism, one told from below. Led by leftist guerrillas, women, Afro-Venezuelans, indigenous people, and students, the social movements he discusses have been struggling against corruption and repression since 1958. Ciccariello-Maher pays particular attention to the dynamic interplay between the Chávez government, revolutionary social movements, and the Venezuelan people, recasting the Bolivarian Revolution as a long-term and multifaceted process of political transformation.